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May 21, 2010

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

UT Tyler Hosts Grand Opening Ceremony for Palestine Campus

UT Tyler Palestine Campus building

The University of Texas of Tyler will proudly open its new building in Palestine, President Rodney H. Mabry announced.

The public is invited to the grand opening at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 23 at 100 University Boulevard on Loop 256 and U.S. 287.

Featured ceremony speakers will include Todd Staples, Texas Commissioner of Agriculture; State Rep. Byron Cook; and Palestine community leaders Dr. Lee Roy Mathis, Cad Williams and David Barnard.

The ceremony will culminate a nearly three-year community fundraising campaign. The UT Tyler Palestine Campus Development Council launched the Paving the Way Campaign to raise funds to supplement the $7 million in Tuition Revenue Bonds authorized by the Texas Legislature to construct a new building.

The Paving the Way Campaign raised more than $2.3 million toward the construction of the 17,484-square-foot facility that houses five classrooms, a library, computer lab, offices, student lounge and conference room.

“We are so proud to be a part of Palestine and the Anderson County area.  I congratulate the citizens of this community for seeing the need to further develop the UT Tyler Palestine Campus and then having the tenacity to make it a reality. We’re especially thankful to Cad Williams, David Barnard and Phil Jenkins for their success with the fundraising campaign, and we also thank Dr. Lee Roy Mathis and the late Dr. Lucy Mathis for helping to bring UT Tyler to Palestine,” said President Mabry.

In honor of his work with UT Tyler and for higher education in Anderson County, the new building is named Mathis Hall.

“When we began this campaign, our goal was to help create an expanded campus that would become a landmark for our community. I believe we’ve achieved that. Mathis Hall is a true testament to this community’s commitment to education and the future of the Anderson County area,” Barnard said.

At the request of Palestine leaders, UT Tyler extended its nursing program to Palestine in 1995. The UT Tyler Palestine Campus officially opened with 20 students in borrowed space in the Trinity Valley Medical Center and Trinity Valley Community College. A year later after the program outgrew that space, it relocated to a former sewing factory at 1820 West Spring Street.

The Palestine community funded the renovation of two classrooms and a nursing skills lab. In 1997, the university added courses in business administration and liberal arts to the Palestine Campus.

As the campus continued to grow, then State Rep. Todd Staples helped win approval of a special line item in the 1999 state budget. A second phase of renovations added two more classrooms and a computer lab.

That same year, Mathis, who was Memorial Hospital Foundation Board Chairman, gifted the campus with $1.2 million for nursing scholarships.

The 2007 Texas Legislature initiated the current phase of enhancements with the $7 million TRB funds.

The campus serves students from eight surrounding counties.

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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