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January 6, 2009

Media Contact: Beverley Golden
News and Information
The University of Texas at Tyler
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Palestine Mayors Invest in UT Tyler Palestine Campus Campaign

Editor’s Note: This story is provided to UT Tyler by Abegg & Associates on behalf of the Paving the Way Campaign. The campaign is raising funds to enhance the new UT Tyler Palestine Campus facility.

Carolyn Salter, Bob McKelvey, Jackson Hanks, Jack Selden, and George Foss all have two things in common.  They have all served as mayors of Palestine.  And, they have all made significant contributions to the UT Tyler Palestine campus expansion campaign.  Collectively they have contributed $150,000 to the Paving the Way campaign.   

“These mayors have come together and are contributing from their own pockets to invest in the community’s future,” said campaign chairman Cad Williams.  “They are helping to pave the way for the expanded academic facility on the UT Tyler Palestine campus.  This  expansion project will have far reaching effects on the growth and development of our community,” added Williams.  

According to current mayor Dr. Carolyn Salter, “Palestine is positioned to become a great city.  The recent strategic planning process by the Palestine Economic Development Corporation highlighted higher education and indicated how critical higher education is to our community’s growth.” 

Mayor Salter pointed out that less that 15% of Palestine area residents have a bachelors degree or higher. 

“This really impacts our ability to be competitive in the economic development arena.  When institutions of higher education are present in a community, the bar is set higher for high school students,” added Salter.

Mayor Salter also reported that city manger Dale Brown and city  councilman Steve Presley have been involved in planning for the new building and assisting the UT System with site development.  “The city is committed to seeing projects like this come to fruition,” stated Mayor Salter. 

Mayor Salter, a general practice physician, and her husband Dr. Michael Gorby, an internal medicine physician, moved to Palestine in 1991. “Michael and I have received a lot from this community and we feel it is important to give back,” expressed Mayor Salter.

Bob McKelvey, now a local business owner, has been involved with UT Tyler Palestine since its inception 13+ years ago. “I am really excited to see this facility coming to fruition,” said McKelvey. “It will have a tremendous effect on Palestine’s commerce and prosperity,” he added.

McKelvey is a member of the UT Tyler Palestine Development Council, a group dedicated to raising the funds necessary to build the academic facility. According to McKelvey, “the concept seemed like a pipe dream.”

“The UT Tyler Palestine Campus started out in donated space and was operated on one-third of a floor at Trinity Valley Hospital. The first permanent site was in a former dress factory across from the city civic center,” reported McKelvey. According to former mayor Jackson Hanks,

“McKelvey has been on the phones since day one, raising money for the project.” 

Former Mayor Hanks also says he believes the campus is a vital part of Palestine’s economic growth and survival. 

“In my humble opinion, for a community to become the best it can be, having a four-year college campus is simply the most important ingredient,” he said. 

Hanks has a law practice in downtown Palestine and says his gift to the
Paving the Way campaign for the construction of the academic facility is because it will have a direct effect on Palestine’s growth and economy. 

“There is a certain level of entertainment required by college students that Palestine does not currently have. There are businesses in metro areas that are looking for small towns with growth potential to invest in,” added Hanks.

Both of these retired public officials say the UT Tyler—Palestine Campus will do wonders to boost the economy and prosperity of the Palestine area. “Just think about the work opportunities we will have when there is a more highly educated work force centered in our area.  Employers look at community stats to determine if an area has the sort of work force needed to sustain their business,” Hanks said. “It is very possible that in the future, Palestine will start attracting companies that require more sophisticated employment. Companies that will want to take advantage of the well educated, young professionals we will be producing right here.”

Another former mayor, Jack Selden, is also a fervent believer in the importance of providing educational opportunities. “Every child has the potential to be a Nobel Prize winner, find a cure for cancer, or be president of the United States.  However, if they don’t have the proper educational exposure, these opportunities are lost,” Selden expressed. “My wife, who was also an educational enthusiast, joined me in our support of this expansion project for the UT Tyler Palestine campus.  We always believed that education is the bedrock of our society and this campus is critical to the educational opportunities of all potential students in this region,” added Selden.

Former mayor George Foss points out, “if you look at the short history of the presence of UT Tyler Palestine and how important it has been to our community, this is a good indicator of how unbelievably successful the expanded campus will be.”  

“I am thrilled to be a part of this project and make a contribution to the campaign.  I think we are all going to be amazed at how much growth and activity we will have as a result of the expanded UT Tyler Palestine presence in this region,” said Foss.  

According to UT Tyler Palestine Development Council Chairman, David Barnard, “we have raised $2,274,846.59 in gifts and pledges for the Paving the Way expansion campaign. We still need to raise about $325,153.41 to meet our goal,” reported Barnard.  “State allocations from the Texas Legislature and the University of Texas System amount to $7 million for the expansion project,” he added. 

“Broad based support from across our community to help
Pave the Way for this expansion and for our future is extremely important,” said Barnard.  For additional information about the expansion plans and ways you can be involved, contact any of the three co-chairmen Cad Williams, David Barnard, or Phil Jenkins.  

Questions also may be addressed to Susan Harris at the UT Tyler Palestine Campus, 903.727.2308.


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