UT Tyler Palestine Campus: A Critical Partnership
From its inception, The University of Texas at Tyler Palestine Campus benefited from the collaboration of dedicated individuals from UT Tyler, Palestine and the Texas Legislature.
Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples was among the first to support this partnership between UT Tyler and the Palestine community. As a state representative at the time, he helped garner funding and support from the State Legislature for the university branch.
“The UT Tyler Palestine Campus is a tribute to what one community’s dream can become when we work together,” Commissioner Staples said. “Now the region can see the benefits of its investment as top-quality graduates enter the workforce and serve in their communities.
“Education is the first step to success for East Texans and a key to economic development for East Texas communities,” he said. “The UT Tyler Palestine Campus utilizes the latest technology and exceptional faculty to maximize learning opportunities for students serious about continuing their education.”
The partnership between Palestine, UT Tyler, the Legislature and The University of Texas System is a journey that began more than 14 years ago when civic leaders like Dr. Lee Roy Mathis discovered a need for local training and education to help meet the nursing shortage.
Dr. Mathis and other community leaders met with Dr. Mabry and then State Rep. Staples to discuss the possibilities. And in 1995, UT Tyler extended a nursing program to Palestine.
The campus officially opened in 1995 with 20 students enrolled in the undergraduate nursing program, located in borrowed space from Trinity Valley Medical Center and Trinity Valley Community College. It was later moved into a renovated dress factory, where it still operates.
By 1997, the College of Business Administration and the College of Liberal Arts joined the successful nursing program. Today, the UT Tyler Palestine Campus offers courses in nursing, business, education, health and kinesiology and history, with an enrollment average of about 175 students.
The dream for an expanded campus began to take shape after an economic development study in 2002 pointed out a great need for higher education opportunities in the region, UT Tyler Palestine Development Council chair David Barnard said. A campus development council was formed and a land committee selected the site for the new Palestine campus in 2004.
Community leaders worked with legislators like Staples for state tuition revenue bonds and financial help from the UT System.
And in 2005, organizers launched Paving the Way. The response far exceeded their expectations.