UT Tyler Office of News and Information

UT Tyler Announces Death of Second President Dr. George F. Hamm

October 10, 2010

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

Dr. George F. Hamm, President Emeritus of The University of Texas at Tyler, died Sunday. Hamm, 79, served as president of the university from 1981 to 1998, leading it through an era of dynamic expansion and broadening its commitment to intellectual development, academic excellence and community service.

He is survived by his wife, Janie, and children, Greg Hamm and wife, Mirielle, of Virginia and Jean Marie Glass of Tyler, and six grandchildren, Monique, Madeleine, Theresa and Catherine Hamm; and Daniel and Sarah Glass; as well as several nieces and nephews.

Hamm’s death followed a short illness. He was born June 26, 1931 in Winner, South Dakota, son of Michael and Mae (Howard) Hamm.

Hamm was a devoted member of Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Tyler. Arrangements are pending with Stewart Family Funeral Home.

In honor of his contributions to the development of UT Tyler, the UT System Board of Regents conferred on him the title of President Emeritus in 2003, stating: “One of Dr. Hamm’s most significant accomplishments was his leadership in working with the legislature and other community leaders in elevating UT Tyler to four-year status in 1997.”

When he announced plans for retirement, Hamm described his years at UT Tyler “as the best and happiest years of my professional life,” and stated, “With each succeeding year, Janie and I have accumulated greater numbers of friends and more enduring relations. The university has grown significantly in stature because of its ever increasing numbers of generous benefactors.”

Hamm was responsible for raising private gifts to supplement university funds for construction of the R. Don Cowan Center Fine and Performing Arts Center at UT Tyler. He established the university’s Distinguished Lecture Series, which has featured such speakers as Henry Kissinger, Coretta Scott King and William F. Buckley.

During his presidency, Hamm secured approval for establishment of the college of engineering, the first at a state university in East Texas. He worked to create UT Tyler’s campuses in Longview and Palestine. New degree programs included master’s degrees in nursing, history, mathematics, biology and political science. His commitment to building and retaining faculty excellence brought scholars from leading universities around the nation to UT Tyler.

Hamm’s leadership also led to construction of UT Tyler’s first on-campus student housing, the University Pines complex. The complex was one of the first in Texas to be built entirely with private funds.

In recognition of his commitment to academic excellence, friends of the university established the $500,000 George F. Hamm Endowed Chair in Arts and Humanities to advance awareness of ethical principles, social responsibilities, appreciation of the arts, and a respect for the dignity and uniquenesses of others. In addition, Hamm created numerous endowed presidential scholarships during his presidency.

One of Hamm’s ongoing priorities was expanding global educational opportunities and pursuing international relationships for the city of Tyler and the university. He cultivated exchange programs with universities in France, Japan, Germany, Poland and Mexico.

The Tyler Sister Cities Program began in 1982 in large part because of his leadership and energy. Tyler’s current sister city relationships established with his support and encouragement include Yachiyo City, Japan and Jelenia Gora, Poland.

He established the Eisenhower International Golf Classic in 1987 to benefit international scholarship programs. This event, which was continued for 13 years, brought to East Texas such stars as Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman, Payne Stewart, Fred Couples, Annika Sorenstam and Chi Chi Rodriguez.

At the national and international level, Dr. Hamm served for many years on the board of directors of Sister Cities International. At the time of his death he was a member of the board of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation.

Hamm was a graduate of South Dakota State University, where he attended on a football scholarship. He served in Uijeongbu as an officer in the U.S. Army 32nd Infantry Regiment during the Korean War. After the war he earned a doctorate in experimental psychology from the University of Wyoming.

His career in higher education administration and teaching begin in 1962 when he was named dean of students at Arizona State University. He went on to become vice president of student affairs, the position he held when he was named president of UT Tyler. Arizona State honored Hamm in 1986 with its University Centennial Medallion as a “Man Ahead of His Times”, for providing equal educational opportunities for minorities.”

U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall sponsored a congressional resolution commending Hamm in 1998 for his “unmatched leadership and vision to the university.” The resolution stated, “As president of UT Tyler, Dr. Hamm dedicated his intellect, talents and energy to build a first-rate educational institution in East Texas. His goals were for many years elusive dreams, but thanks to his vision, perseverance and leadership, these dreams have become reality.”

Locally, Hamm served on the boards of numerous organizations including the Tyler Economic Development Council, Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Greater Tyler and St. Edward’s University in Austin.

Texas College awarded him an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 1997 for his enduring efforts with the Texas College/United Negro College Fund.

He was preceded in death by two sons, Robert Joseph Hamm and Daniel George Hamm; by brothers John, Joseph, Philip, William, Michael and James; and, by sisters Margaret, Mary and Ann.

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 Last Published 1/7/11