UT Tyler

UT Tyler 40th Anniversary

Dr. James H. Stewart

President Emeritus, 1972 – 1981

Dr. Stewart became the first president of what is now The University of Texas at Tyler and created an institution that is known for its academic excellence, renowned faculty and state-of-the-art facilities.

He received his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees from North Texas State College and later worked as an assistant to the president there until moving to Tyler in the early 1970s when Tyler State College was in its infancy.

Texas legislators created Tyler State College in 1971 as a two-year, upper-division coeducational institution of higher education. On June 10, 1971, Gov. Preston Smith signed Senate Bill 419 officially creating Tyler State College.

Dr. Stewart was appointed the first president of what is now UT Tyler and served from 1972 – 1981. Officials renamed the school Texas Eastern University four years later and in 1979 it became part of The University of Texas System.

Dr. Stewart may be the only university president in the country to serve an institution under three different names.

At the time of his retirement, the university had grown to more than 250 employees, state appropriations of $5,696,263 and enrollment of 1,900 students. The university offered 48 undergraduate degrees and 14 graduate degrees. Commencement recognized 183 students the semester Dr. Stewart announced his retirement.

Under his leadership, the university was accredited by the Texas Education Agency. Specific programs were accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory and the Texas Board of Nurse Examiners.

Achievements During His Presidency:

  • Developed the only public degree-granting institution of higher education in the 14-county East Texas Planning Region.
  • Developed a fully-accredited institution.
  • Built a functional, efficient and aesthetically desirable campus and physical plant.
  • Worked with the Texas Legislature to seek appropriations for the university.
  • Established a higher education program based on academic excellence.
  • Hired initial faculty and staff.
  • Assembled the first Curriculum Committee.
  • Prepared and submitted course offerings to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
  • Received ‘candidate status’ from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools on July 1, 1973.
  • Received first legislative budget appropriation of $750,000 for Tyler State College for 1972-1973.
  • Established in the first full academic year, 1973-1974, 140 course offerings (16 of which were graduate course); 506 fall semester student enrollment; 56 employees; legislative appropriations at $1,535,591.
  • Recognized the first graduating class of nine in spring 1974.
  • Obtained legislative support to rename the institution Texas Eastern University.
  • Worked to secure a permanent location for the university and moved it to its present location in 1976, a park-like setting of more than 200 acres.
  • Led the university through four major construction contracts totaling more than $21 million. Buildings constructed were:
    • Administration Building
    • University Center
    • Health and Physical Education Building (HPE)
    • Physical Plant
    • Power Plant
    • Hudnall-Pirtle-Roosth Building (HPR)
    • Robert R. Muntz Library
  • Developed the Nursing School and a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
  • Increased enrollment from 176 in spring 1973 to 1,900 in spring 1981.


  • Dr. Stewart was named President Emeritus of UT Tyler in 2005.
UT Tyler