Leaders from Tyler Junior College and The University of Texas at Tyler signed an agreement Monday to create the TJC & UT Tyler Promise Transfer Scholarship.
Beginning this fall, the new scholarship will enable TJC graduates who have been successful in one of the College’s Promise programs to further pursue their higher education at UT Tyler.
In support of this new partnership, the James I. Perkins Family Foundation originally intended to announce a gift to fund an initial 25 scholarships at $8,000 each.
During Monday’s event, the Perkins family made a surprise announcement of an additional 25 scholarships, for a total gift of $400,000.
Jim Perkins said, “We are so pleased to help establish this new scholarship, which recognizes the partnership of two fine institutions in support of student success: Tyler Junior College and The University of Texas at Tyler. With this gift, we honor the leadership of Dr. Juan Mejia and Dr. Kirk Calhoun. We believe that others will join us in giving to ensure that more of our students complete their higher education right here in the city of Tyler.”
Front, from left: Mitch Andrews, TJC vice president of institutional advancement; Dr. Archie Tucker II, UT Tyler senior vice president of university advancement; second row, Dr. Juan E. Mejia, TJC president and CEO; Dr. Kirk A. Calhoun, UT Tyler president; and David Barron, UT Tyler vice president of enrollment management.
TJC President and CEO Dr. Juan E. Mejia said, “We are truly grateful to the Perkins family for their continuing generosity and vision. As they initiated a partnership with TJC to establish the first community Promise program in the state of Texas, they are again casting a vision and creating a pathway for TJC graduates to continue their higher education.”
The Rusk TJC Citizens Promise was established in February 2014 as a collaboration between the James I. Perkins Family Foundation, Citizens 1st Bank, Rusk ISD, TJC and the TJC Foundation.
The Rusk Promise covers up to two years at TJC for Rusk students who graduate in the top half of their class with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Qualifying students must also reside in Rusk ISD and must have attended Rusk High School for grades 11 and 12.
The success of the Rusk Promise inspired the partnership between TJC and seven East Texas communities to create the broader TJC Promise. Communities currently participating in the TJC Promise program include Chapel Hill, Grand Saline, Lindale, Mineola, Tyler, Van and Winona. Community contributors have given approximately $20 million in dedicated, endowed funding to provide scholarships to students as part of the TJC Promise program.
The TJC Promise has been a success throughout the East Texas region. TJC Promise participants sign up during their freshman year in high school and agree to achieve certain standards to ensure they are college ready. If successful, participants will not pay for two years of tuition and fees at TJC and benefit from the dedicated support of Success Coaches that help them navigate their collegiate experience. Promise participants have the opportunity to pursue a variety of educational opportunities at TJC through more than 120 technical and workforce preparation programs and traditional course work that allows them to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
The first class of TJC Promise participants came to the College during fall of 2020, and data supports that these students outperform their first-time-in-college (FTIC) counterparts at TJC in areas such as GPA, persistence, retention and completion.
“We welcome the high-achieving students who transfer from TJC,” said UT Tyler President Kirk A. Calhoun, MD, FACP. “Through our partnership, we continue the promise that began at TJC, which is to make a quality education more affordable and accessible. Our sincere gratitude goes to the Perkins family for its generous support that allows both institutions to recruit and retain excellent students.”
Mitch Andrews, MPA, TJC vice president of institutional advancement and executive director of the Tyler Junior College Foundation, said, “The Perkins family inspires us all. Our hope is that other contributors will be motivated by their generosity and give to fund scholarships for TJC Promise graduates who continue to achieve their educational goals at UT Tyler.”