Leaders of more than 100 Texas higher education institutions honored Jim and Margaret Perkins from East Texas by naming them recipients of the Texas Higher Education Distinguished Service Award.
The Perkins’ were co-nominated for the award by Tyler Junior College and Stephen F. Austin State University. The nomination referred to their establishment in 2006 of the James I. Perkins Family Foundation, which was created to support students, institutions of higher education, and the communities in East Texas. The Perkins family has generously supported the Tyler Junior College Foundation, SFA’s College of Education, The University of Texas at Tyler, UT Austin’s Law School, and East Texas Baptist University.
In accepting the award, Jim Perkins stated, “Margaret and I are honored to receive this recognition from such prestigious organizations representing institutions of higher education and applaud their collaborative efforts to promote higher education in the great State of Texas.”
As supporters of education, the Perkins’ collaborated with TJC and created a scholarship program in 2014 for local high school graduates that has grown into the “TJC Promise” now serving six communities in the East Texas region. They also supported Lon Morris College, prior to its closure in 2012, in assisting with the establishment of a partnership with TJC. That partnership allowed students from Lon Morris to transfer seamlessly to TJC. An additional transfer partnership and scholarship program, which benefits from Jim and Margaret’s support, assists students attending East Texas Baptist University.
“Jim and Margaret Perkins are dear friends, and they continue to be wonderful champions for students and communities from throughout Texas. They have provided visionary leadership, strong financial support, and personal time and energy for significant initiatives that will have a lasting positive impact for generations to come. They are staunch supporters of Tyler Junior College and of our region’s universities, and it was an honor to join them as they received this most prestigious recognition,” said Juan E. Mejia, President & CEO of Tyler Junior College, and Executive Committee Board Member for the Texas Association of Community Colleges.
From left: State Sen. Bryan Hughes, Jim Perkins and Margaret Perkins.
Mrs. Perkins is a former junior high and high school English and history teacher. She also served as a librarian, substitute teacher, and member of the Rusk Independent School District Board and is a Bank Director. Mr. Perkins, a former SFA Regent Chairman, is president and chairman of the board of Citizens 1st Bank-Tyler, and a practicing attorney. They both have received the T.B. Butler Award as Outstanding Citizens, Tyler Junior College’s Black and Gold Award, and the UT Tyler Galaxy Award.
“Jim and Margaret are long-time champions of SFA, where Jim served as a member of its first Board of Regents and, together, they provide extraordinary support to the James I. Perkins College of Education with its mission of preparing competent, successful, caring and enthusiastic professional educators from diverse backgrounds,” said Steve Westbrook, interim president, Stephen F. Austin State University. Westbrook added, “In addition, our JacksTeach program receives financial support from the Perkins’ and assists STEM students obtain secondary STEM teaching certifications while earning degrees in their respective disciplines.”
“Jim and Margaret Perkins are long-standing friends of The University of Texas at Tyler,” said President Kirk A. Calhoun, MD, FACP. “They are faithful and generous supporters who are deeply committed to the education of East Texas. This recognition of their service is well deserved.”
“We’re grateful for Jim and Margaret Perkins’ support of students in East Texas and the positive impact they contribute to the higher education community through their extraordinary generosity,” said J. Blair Blackburn, president of East Texas Baptist University and secretary of the Board of Directors of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas. “Their faithful partnership has blessed ETBU students who have transferred from our educational partner Tyler Junior College. The Perkins’ commitment to the Promise scholarship program ensures the next generation of servant leaders are equipped for their callings and ready to lead in their respective fields. We are pleased to join our college and university colleagues each year in recognizing the philanthropic work of outstanding Texans like the Perkins through the presentation of this award.”
Both Jim and Margaret value and promote the importance of education and life-long learning. The Perkins family is active in numerous civic and community activities in the East Texas Region, including the Nacogdoches Opportunity for Better Learning Experience (NOBLE) program, the Rogers Palmer Performing Arts Center for East Texas, the Literacy Council of Tyler, East Texas Communities Foundation, Northeast Texas Health Center, East Texas Black Nurses Association, Regents Academy in Nacogdoches, Grace Community School, and the Nacogdoches ISD Education Foundation. Jim is also a past president of the UT Austin Law Alumni Association.
Distinguished Service Award recipients are selected by the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT), the Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors (CPUPC), and the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC). The award has been presented 43 times in the past 45 years.
ICUT, a nonprofit association, is the voice for Texas' fully accredited private colleges and universities. For over 50 years, it has fulfilled its mission of helping policymakers recognize the importance and value of higher education's independent sector by successfully articulating the sector's needs and aspirations.
Since 1983, CPUPC has met to advance Texas’ public senior colleges and universities as they pursue their respective goals of academic excellence, student career preparation, innovative research and community service. The nonprofit council comprises chief executive officers of the Texas public general academic universities, system offices, health-related institutions, and the three two-year state colleges in the Houston area.
The Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) is an organization representing Texas public community college member districts, community college presidents and chancellors. For over seven decades, the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) has focused on their primary mission of improving statewide educational opportunities in community colleges through advocacy and policy change. For more information, visit their website at tacc.org.