Presidential Honors Scholarship Program will continue its legacy of attracting top talent as a result of historic gift
Officials of Tyler Junior College announced today that TJC’s gift from Virginia and Jim Gatewood exceeds $19 million now that all components of the gift are finalized. The announcement was made during the College’s annual Scholarship Luncheon held at Green Acres Baptist Church CrossWalk Conference Center.
Earlier this year, TJC announced a “double-digit, multi-million dollar” gift from the Gatewood family; but the amount of the gift was not made public, pending the estate being settled.
The Gatewood gift is the largest in the College’s history and is also believed to be the most significant monetary gift from an individual family to a Texas community college as well as the largest gift to an institution or organization in the City of Tyler.
An extraordinary estate gift surpassing $18 million followed Mrs. Gatewood’s passing in 2017 and resulted in the creation of the James F. and Virginia Hawkins Gatewood Memorial Fund at TJC. The funds will ensure the long-term support of the TJC Presidential Honors Scholarship Program, the College’s signature program for attracting academically talented student leaders from throughout East Texas. During 2013, the Honors Program was redesigned and has grown to almost 300 students annually.
The gift also includes an almost $1 million contribution from the Gatewood-Hawkins Family Foundation to establish the Gatewood-Hawkins Foundation Workforce Scholarship Endowment. The new endowment will provide scholarships to deserving students participating in TJC’s workforce preparation programs including those in the professional and technical areas and will support students who have successfully participated in the new TJC Promise. The Promise was launched in 2016 and is a “first of its kind” program for the region that guarantees scholarship to students within the College’s tax district who, during their freshman year in high school, commit to academic achievement, persistence and community service and maintain those standards throughout their high school years. The Promise program, by instilling a college-going culture early on, will impact the lives and futures of students and the East Texas community for generations to come. Currently, more than 2,600 students are participating in the TJC Promise.
According to TJC Chancellor and CEO Dr. Mike Metke, “The Gatewoods discovered that nothing so close could take young people so far in life. They loved seeing them develop their full potential and realized that Virginia Gatewood’s donations to TJC were incredibly cost effective. It was their desire to change lives now and forever and that’s what will happen through her generosity.
“Virginia’s historic estate gift will sustain the Presidential Honors Scholarship Program, and the generous contribution from the Gatewood-Hawkins Foundation will serve our workforce of tomorrow through the new TJC Promise program.”
Over the years, the Gatewoods and their Foundation contributed more than $775,000 to TJC, funding 10 endowed scholarships and numerous annual scholarships.
After Jim Gatewood’s death in 2001, Virginia Gatewood continued his legacy of giving to TJC and endowed several scholarships in honor of prominent individuals whom she and Jim admired, including: U.S. District Judge William Steger, Dr. Ben and Maytee Fisch, Patsy Clyde, James Wynne Jr., Mary John Spence, Dr. Harold Cameron and others.
“Jim and Virginia Gatewood were always faithful supporters of TJC students,” said Mitch Andrews, executive director of the TJC Foundation. “Prior to this gift, 126 students received scholarships as a direct result of their generosity. Even in Mrs. Gatewood’s final years, she was known for taking a personal interest in the scholarship recipients, often meeting with students in her home to learn about their lives, college experiences and plans for the future.”
In honor of her late husband’s love of gardening, she provided a significant gift in 2005 to create the Gatewood Garden located behind TJC’s iconic Jenkins Hall.
In 2010, when she was awarded TJC Alumni Association’s “Black and Gold Award” to recognize her generosity to the College, Mrs. Gatewood said she viewed the couple’s contributions to the TJC scholarship programs as “giving a helping hand so that others can help themselves.”
“The extraordinary gift from the Gatewood family reflects their confidence in the quality education that students receive at TJC,” Andrews said. “We know our community realizes the value of TJC and we hope the Gatewoods’ incredible generosity will encourage others to support TJC students as we continue to fund scholarships for the new TJC Promise program.”
Established in 1926, TJC is one of the largest, most comprehensive community colleges in Texas, with more than 12,000 students enrolled per semester. Throughout its 92-year history, TJC has embodied the true sense of the term “community” and has as a cornerstone the promises of a quality education, a vibrant student life and service to its communities.
TJC offers more than 130 degree and certificate options, plus extensive customized training and adult and continuing education, and offers opportunities for students to transfer to senior universities or to gain the skills needed to go directly into the workforce. The College received legislative designation, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approval, and accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools/Commission on Colleges, as an institution eligible to award baccalaureate degrees.
TJC features a 145-acre main campus and multiple branch locations, rigorous academics, 60 national athletic championships, stellar fine and performing arts programs, modern residential facilities, and organizations and clubs that promote student diversity. The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program has named TJC as one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation.