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Dr. George F. Hamm- The University of Texas at Tyler 40th Anniversary, 1st president of UT Tyler

UT Tyler 40th Anniversary

Dr. George F. Hamm

Former President HammPresident Emeritus, 1981 – 1998

Dr. Hamm created a legacy of growth at The University of Texas at Tyler that saw an increase of students and the expansion of the university’s campus. He was committed to building and retaining faculty excellence and brought to UT Tyler scholars from leading universities around the nation.

He received his bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State University and his master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Wyoming.

In 1962, he began his career in higher education as the dean of students at Arizona State University. He later became the vice president of student affairs. He was appointed president of UT Tyler in 1981, where served for 16 years leading the university through an era of dynamic expansion and broadening its commitment to intellectual development, academic excellence and community service.

Under his leadership, the Texas Legislature approved four-year status for UT Tyler.

When he announced plans for retirement, Hamm described his years at UT Tyler as the best and happiest years of his professional life. According to him, the university had grown significantly in stature because of its ever increasing numbers of generous benefactors.

He  was responsible for raising significant gifts to benefit the growth of UT Tyler.

Dr. Hamm died October 10, 2010 following a short illness. He was 79. 

Achievements During His Presidency:

  • Secured approval for establishment of the College of Engineering, the first at a state university in East Texas.
  • Worked to create UT Tyler’s campuses in Longview and Palestine.
  • Established new master’s degree programs in nursing, history, mathematics and political science.
  • Built UT Tyler’s first on-campus student housing (University Pines). The complex was one of the first in Texas built entirely with private funds.
  • Established the Eisenhower International Golf Classic in 1987 to benefit international scholarship programs. The event spanned 13 years and brought to East Texas such stars as Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman, Payne Stewart, Fred Couples, Annika Sorenstam and Chi Chi Rodriguez.
  • Raised private gifts to supplement university funds for construction of the R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center.
  • Established the Distinguished Lecture Series, which has featured such speakers as Henry Kissinger, Coretta Scott King and William F. Buckley.
  • Cultivated exchange programs with universities in France, Japan, Germany, Poland and Mexico as part of his commitment to expanding global educational opportunities.
  • Played a large role in the organization of the Tyler Sister Cities program. Current sister city relationships established with his support and encouragement include Yachiyo City, Japan and Jelenia Gora, Poland.
  • Established the first endowed chair (Sam A. Lindsey Chair).
  • Established the first Endowed Professorship through gifts from the Spence and Pirtle families.
  • Established first Endowed Fellowship of Excellence. In addition, Dr. Hamm created numerous endowed presidential scholarships during his presidency.
  • Increased enrollment from 1,830 to 3,300 students. Increased faculty from 82 to more than 200.

Awards

  • Dr. Hamm was named President Emeritus of UT Tyler in 2003.
  • George F. Hamm Endowed Chair in Arts and Humanities was created by friends of the university.
  • U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall sponsored a congressional resolution in 1998 commending Dr. Hamm for his leadership and vision.
  • Texas College awarded him an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 1997 for his enduring efforts with Texas College/United Negro College Fund.
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