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March 25, 2010

Media Contact: Beverley Golden
News and Information
The University of Texas at Tyler
903.566.7303 or 903.330.0495 (cell)

UT Tyler Honors Tyler and Palestine Leaders at Annual President's Dinner

The University of Texas at Tyler recognized six community leaders from Tyler and Palestine at the 2010 President’s Dinner, President Rodney H. Mabry announced.


Dr. Lawrence L. Anderson and Dr. Svetislava “Sasha” J. Vukelja are recipients of the 2010 Patriot of the Year Award. The Tyler couple is recognized for their strong commitment to education and their philanthropy.


UT Tyler presented the first 2010 Inspiring Excellence Awards to Herb Buie of Tyler and Palestine leaders Cad Williams, David Barnard and Phil Jenkins. This award recognizes those who have given extraordinary measures of their time, energy and support to the university.

“We are so grateful to these wonderful friends of UT Tyler. They have given unselfishly to enhance the University. It is their generosity that has provided, among so many things, an endowed chair to attract a faculty scholar, endowed scholarships and the outstanding new facility for the Palestine Campus,” Mabry said.

Encouraged and mentored by the late A.W. “Dub” Riter, the Andersons have become known for their vision, energy and leadership to higher education.

Currently serving as co-chairs of the UT Tyler Inspiring Excellence Campaign, the Andersons are establishing a $1 million endowed chair in education at UT Tyler. This endowed chair will allow the university to recruit an outstanding scholar to lead the Reading Initiative, which is one of the two cornerstones of the new Learning Institute that is centered in the College of Education and Psychology.

The Andersons donated funds in 2002 toward a reading endowment at UT Tyler not only to impact the university but also to honor the work of Dr. Gary Wright, professor of reading and coordinator of the reading program.


“Education has always been one of our passions, along with reading. We wanted to do something in the community that would have the biggest impact on the largest number of kids,” said Larry Anderson.

Their long-standing support to UT Tyler includes three endowed presidential scholarships and numerous gifts such as the Lawrence Anderson and Svetislava Vukelja Presidential Scholarship for Veterans and the Anderson-Vukelja Scholarship. The Drs. Anderson and Vukelja Lecture Series Endowment makes it possible for the Distinguished Lecture Series to continue bringing some of the most influential individuals in the country to Tyler.

The Anderson’s appreciation for the arts and culture extends to the UT Tyler Cowan Center Performance Excellence Endowment, Cowan Center Circle Executive Producer level of support as well as Friends of the Arts and President’s Associates memberships. They also donate to the UT Tyler Patriot Club Athletics and the Patriot Golf Classic.

Buie is a vital leader at UT Tyler as a member of not only the Development Board, where he served as chair, but also as a current member of the executive committee of that board.

He and his wife, Melvina, are strong supporters of the university. They have made a significant commitment to the Inspiring Excellence Campaign and have established two nursing doctoral scholarships.

Their support also includes the Cowan Center Performance Excellence Endowment, President’s Associates, Patriot Golf Classic, Friends of the Arts and athletics program.

Williams, Bernard and Jenkins turned what some might have considered a pipe dream into a reality. Using forward thinking from the beginning, they enlisted then State Rep. Todd Staples to help obtain $6.3 million in tuition revenue bonds and $700,000 provided by the UT System for a new building on the UT Tyler Palestine Campus.

In addition to this accomplishment, conceived and ran a $2.6 million fundraiser to provide the remainder of the funds needed for the new building as well as the land on which stands.

One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 90 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 6,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.


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