Almost half of that funding came in the form of student scholarships, with smaller amounts providing for faculty chairs and professorships, buildings and renovations and the R. Don Cowan Center for Fine and Performing Arts, among other areas.
Unlike a capital campaign, which emphasizes infrastructure, this was a comprehensive campaign with a focus on student scholarships and faculty chairs and professorships.
This was the largest campaign in university history and the first comprehensive campaign for UT Tyler.
UT Tyler President Dr. Rod Mabry said he is proud of the campaign leaders who contributed their time, effort and finances. But he also extended that pride to the community as a whole.
“I'm proudest of the philanthropic tradition of East Texans,” Mabry said. “They are just amazing as a group. There is no city or area quite like this one for its willingness to support a good cause.”
Mabry said the funds already have made a difference in helping to grow the university, particularly the scholarship funds.
“It has helped raise the standards of our students coming in,” he said. “Those honors college students are just amazing in terms of what they can do and all the many other students who benefited from scholarships.”
Dr. Larry Anderson, campaign committee chairman, said a long line of donors did a spectacular job of building out the university and providing beautiful facilities.
But it needed more faculty positions, scholarship money and endowed professorships, he said.
“We were missing (the) things that basically create a university and take it to the next level,” he said.
The $13.7 million raised for student scholarships has helped to do that. Mabry said students are much more inclined to come to UT Tyler and fully engage in the experience when they get a scholarship.
“So it makes a difference in terms of who comes and how they work,” Mabry said. “The leadership part of their potential really comes out.”
Amy Friesenhahn is one of the students who has benefited from these scholarships. Ms. Friesenhahn, 20, received a Regents Scholarship and the Bill and Glenda Barrett Scholarship and is a part of the university Honors Program and captain of the tennis team.
Although the scholarships may not have been a deciding factor, she said it proved to be the best choice financially for her and her parents.
Another core university piece this campaign sought to build was faculty. UT Tyler added at least five chairs and professorships combined through this campaign, Jerre Iversen, vice president for university advancement, said.
These chairs are very competitive positions that help a university to recruit and retain the best faculty, Iversen said. Part of the funds donated for such a position go to the faculty members' salaries, but they also can receive stipends to attend conferences, purchase equip- ment or supplies or hire graduate students for research.
Large universities can have several hundred chairs and professorships. UT Tyler has less than 20, Iversen said.
A passion for literacy and education led Anderson and his wife, campaign co-chair Dr. Sasha Vukelja, to create the Anderson-Vukelja-Wright Chair in Education through a $1 million gift.
“When you look at it, if kids particularly don't know how to read, they're basically lost …,” Anderson said. “We wanted to do something that would better equip elementary school teachers to teach the kids how to read.”
Although the sizeable contributions are important in a big campaign, every little bit helps. And 4,600 donors had a role in making this campaign successful, Iversen said.
Deanna Sims, UT Tyler's director of major gifts/advancement services, said even with the economic downturn in 2008, people continued to give and do so repeatedly.
Iversen said it was the East Texas community that made almost all of the gifts in this campaign, with the exception of $1.2 million, which came from alumni. He said that was not because alumni aren't generous, the university just hadn't been reaching out to them for donations.
“UT Tyler has been uniquely blessed over the years by having people in the community who are not alums, but who said, 'I think it's important to have a full university in our midst, and we're going to help them succeed,'” he said.
Although the campaign has officially ended, the overall fundraising efforts and the building up of the alumni program will continue.
“One of the things that I think has really helped the campaign be successful is that we have more people than ever that are aware of who we are, where we are, and what we do and why we do it,” Ms. Sims said. “People used to call UT Tyler the community's best kept secret.”