Building on a Promise

by Emily Battle
Senior Editor/Writer, UT Tyler

A college education opens doors of opportunity and creates a foundation for lifetime achievement and fulfillment. Committed to helping East Texas students shape their destinies, The University of Texas at Tyler is working closely with area community colleges to make four-year degrees more accessible and affordable.

UT Tyler is partnering with Tyler Junior College to support the seamless transfer of students from the TJC Promise Program to the university’s Patriot Promise. Both Promise programs provide assistance with tuition and fees to help students reach their educational goals.

In another major partnership, the university is working with Kilgore College to offer students a four-year university experience through the UT Tyler Longview University Center. Students will have access to resources from both institutions as part of a dual admission initiative.

The university hopes to partner with other local community colleges to support student success in higher education. “We are excited to work together with the community colleges of East Texas, which are vital to the educational system,’’ said UT Tyler President Kirk A. Calhoun, MD, FACP. “These partnerships will help provide pathways for more students in the region to experience the life-changing benefits of a college education.’’


At TJC, students can earn scholarships covering tuition and fees and receive dedicated support services by achieving the standards of the TJC Promise program during all four years at a participating East Texas high school and while attending TJC. Eligible students can then meet the requirements of the UT Tyler Patriot Promise program to receive financial assistance and support services while pursuing their bachelor’s degree. The partnership is designed to help more students attain their educational goals, resulting in more graduates entering the 21st century professional workforce.

“Through the TJC Promise and the UT Tyler Promise, we have an opportunity to increase the degree attainment level in a sustainable way,’’ said TJC President and CEO Dr. Juan E. Mejia. “Since we launched the Rusk promise program ten years ago, we have demonstrated how transformative opportunities like this are for students and the community.’’

TJC has a history of providing exceptionally high performing transfer students to UT Tyler. Students participating in the TJC Promise Program also outperform their non-participating student counterparts. “We truly celebrate the participating school districts, including Chapel Hill, Grand Saline, Lindale, Mineola, Tyler, Van, and Winona, for partnering with TJC. We remain committed to a college-going culture, and the result is an enrollment at TJC of over 12,000 strong,” Mejia added.

The UT Tyler Patriot Promise Scholarship covers tuition and mandatory fees for full-time freshmen and transfer students who are Texas residents and whose family income is $80,000 or less. Originally established for freshmen only, the program recently expanded to include transfer students as the result of an endowment created by UT System.

“UT Tyler is pleased to work together with TJC to help incoming transfer students flow directly into a four-year degree program,’’ said UT Tyler Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Amir Mirmiran. “Our hope is for all students to be able to achieve their academic goals, regardless of their level of income.’’


UT Tyler and Kilgore College entered an agreement to provide students in the greater Longview community with a four-year university experience through the UT Tyler Longview University Center. The agreement includes seamless pathways from dual credit and associate degree programs offered by Kilgore College to bachelor’s degree programs offered by UT Tyler. To accommodate the partnership objectives, improvements will be made to Longview University Center facilities with funding from the Texas Capital Construction Assistance Projects program.

The partnership marks the continuation of a long history of collaborations between UT Tyler and Kilgore College. “The University of Texas at Tyler is eager to join forces with Kilgore College to benefit the greater Longview community,’’ said Longview University Center Director Dr. Rodney Ellis. “This new partnership will capitalize on the strengths of both institutions to provide clear pathways for students to earn a four-year degree.’’

The agreement is the result of ongoing discussions with educators, employers, students, and economic developers about the educational needs of the community. “It’s a deep thread in our mission as an institution to promote partnerships through outreach to area schools and universities,” said Kilgore College President Dr. Brenda S. Kays. “It’s always exciting when two educational institutions can work together for the benefit of students. We look forward to gathering data and working with appropriate community partners to assess the regional workforce needs and plan for appropriate program offerings at the Longview University Center.”


UT Tyler also has formed meaningful collaborations beyond the region, including that with Houston Community College. Students completing the Associate of Science in Engineering Science at Houston Community College can then earn Bachelor of Science degrees at the UT Tyler Houston Engineering Center, located at the Houston Community College Alief-Hayes campus. The students can major in mechanical, electrical, or civil engineering, or construction management.


UT Tyler offers more than ninety undergraduate and graduate degree programs to nearly 10,000 students, with a mission to improve educational and health care outcomes for East Texas and beyond. The university’s top three bachelor’s degree programs are nursing, management and marketing, and health and kinesiology. 

The university has doctoral programs in clinical psychology, nursing, nursing practice, pharmacy, education, and human resource development. It has begun accepting applications for its first class of Doctor of Medicine (MD) students in fall 2023. Due to a generous gift, the first class will receive four-year scholarships to cover full tuition.

UT Tyler students have opportunities for travel study, internships, and involvement in faculty research to enhance their classroom learning with real-world experiences. Extracurricular experiences include 100 student organizations, eight national Greek fraternities and sororities and 17 NCAA Division II men’s and women’s sports.

Designated by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education as a doctoral research institution and by U.S. News & World Report as a national university, UT Tyler has campuses in Tyler, Longview, Palestine, and Houston. To learn more about the university, visit