Tarleton president’s inauguration address: Investment, Research, Opportunity


STEPHENVILLE (February 28, 2020) — Three bold initiatives. Three priorities for a transformative tomorrow. Three major announcements at this morning’s inauguration ceremony for Tarleton State University’s 16th president, Dr. James L. Hurley.

• A scholarship program, dubbed the Tarleton Promise, to extend funding beyond state and federal aid for high-performing students with extreme financial need. Value of the investment could top $6 million annually.

• A Center for Research, Innovation and Economic Development to strengthen faculty-led student research and spur regional growth and job creation.

• A comprehensive capital campaign — $100 million — to multiply student success initiatives; advance scholarship, faculty and staff development; and improve campus infrastructure.

Dr. James L. Hurley

These ambitious undertakings, Hurley said, move Tarleton closer to becoming the premier comprehensive regional university dedicated to education, service and research. “We are fulfilling the mission and dream of our founder, John Tarleton, and meeting the great need for educational opportunity. We’re eliminating barriers and building bridges.”

Beginning this fall, Federal Pell Grant students in the top 25 percent of their high school class, or GPA equivalent, will be eligible for Tarleton Promise funding to cover the remaining cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board for up to four years. Nearly 60 percent of Tarleton students receive some form of financial assistance. Almost 40 percent are Pell Grant eligible.

Private donations, along with support from the Tarleton State University Foundation, Inc. and the Chancellor’s Century Council, will help fund the new scholarship.

“As a first-generation college graduate, Dr. Hurley understands the financial roadblocks to a higher education and is dedicated to helping students overcome them to achieve a university degree,” said Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp. “He understands firsthand that a higher education improves lives for generations.

“The Texas A&M University System not only has great expectations of President Hurley, but great confidence in him. He’s the right man at the right time for the right job.”

In his address, Hurley emphasized Tarleton’s social and economic responsibility to drive regional innovation and job creation, and that the university will continue to strategically grow its research portfolio.

“It is our desire to be the foremost university in faculty-led student research at the comprehensive regional level,” he said. “Creation of the Center for Research, Innovation and Economic Development is a step in that direction.”

Hurley thanked Tarleton family and friends for their generosity through the years and asked for ongoing support as the university launches the largest capital campaign in its 120-year history.

“We need your time, talent and treasure to become the premier comprehensive regional university in the nation,” he said. “Together, we can and we will!

“The three bold initiatives announced here today solidify our status as a national university that continues to provide life-changing, hope-lifting opportunities to the region we serve. There’s no limit to what we can accomplish.

“As the university’s 16th president, I want students from all circumstances and walks of life to have the opportunity to call Tarleton home,” he said.

Hurley began his tenure at Tarleton in August 2019, providing vision for a comprehensive curriculum serving more than 13,000 students in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian, RELLIS-Bryan and online. Prior to Tarleton, he was president of Tusculum University in Greeneville, Tenn.

In his first seven months, he has partnered with area school districts to create pathways to Tarleton and initiated a Guaranteed Award Program for qualifying seniors. He signed a new memorandum of understanding with Tarrant County College and celebrated the opening of a shared space on the fifth floor of TCC’s Trinity West Fork Building in downtown Fort Worth, and discussion is ongoing for the second building of Tarleton’s Fort Worth location along Chisholm Trail Parkway.

Effective July 2020, the Tarleton Texans join the Western Athletic Conference and transition to NCAA Division I athletics. The move will raise the university’s profile and grow the value of a Tarleton degree.

To watch the ceremony, visit http://tarletonstate.us/watch-inauguration.

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