The University of Texas at Tyler
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A centerpiece for learning,
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40th Anniversary and Still Growing

UT Tyler Celebrates 4 Decades of Growth and Excellence

Not Just Faculty … A Family

While administrators, community leaders and legislators framed the vision for this groundbreaking university, faculty members were busy filling in the details and creating an atmosphere of learning.

Dr. Patricia Gajda, history professor, said when she arrived at UT Tyler in 1974 to teach, “we had nothing . . . no curriculum.” She added, “But it was such a family atmosphere. Given the size and number of people, everybody knew everybody. We knew all the faculty, all the secretaries, all the cleaning staff. We’ve had some precious friendships.”

Dr. Gajda remembers the office space they shared early on in an apartment building across the street from the original campus. “Upstairs, the secretary worked in what was the living room. I shared the dining room as office space with a political science instructor,” she said. “A biologist was in the kitchen and scientists were in the back bedroom. We knew each other across disciplines and schools.”

Health and kinesiology professor Dr. Joyce Ballard was hired in 1975. “I came early enough to see the groundwork of the charter members,” Dr. Ballard said. “They started with nothing but enthusiasm, extremely hard work and a spirit of cooperation. They deserve to be recognized for the outstanding work. We were all working together to make the university successful.”

UT Tyler past

Dr. Marilyn Young, a business management professor, also joined the UT Tyler staff in those early years.

“We were so busy in those days and having fun at the same time,” Dr. Young said. “I remember one year being on 11 committees and loving it. I worked closely with people from other disciplines where we had lunch together and got together after class, and made lifelong friends. Anything seemed possible.”

Dr. McCoy recalled, “There was such an air of excitement because of the newness. All the faculty was working together on a common vision, with a common purpose. We had an opportunity to develop something with all of our ideas.”

The excitement was not limited to faculty.

“The students and Tyler community were very happy, proud and excited to have a university,’’ Dr. Young said. “I remember staying long after class was over and discussing theories and current events with students.”

The hard work in the early years was well worth the effort, Dr. Gajda added. “We have a remarkable school. It just has a spirit. It was great to help fashion this place.”

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