A Truly Community Project: Contributors give generously to new Robert M. Rogers Nursing & Health Sciences Center

Aug 06, 2015 by

Tyler Junior College’s new Robert M. Rogers Nursing & Health Sciences Center isn’t just an enormous, new, state-of-the-art healthcare training facility. It’s a tribute to what happens when a community truly believes in and throws its considerable support behind the college’s mission.

The center is the most ambitious capital project in TJC’s 88-year history, and private funding resulted in the most generous giving for the college to date.

The 150,000-square-foot facility includes comprehensive skills laboratories, workplace simulation, the latest equipment, advanced technology and on-site clinicals. It provides the resources to expand TJC’s current healthcare programs and add new in demand offerings in order to meet the growing needs of Tyler’s medical industry.

Private funding for the facility came from local foundations, individuals and corporations. The most significant contribution was given by the Robert M. Rogers Foundation, for which the facility is named. Rogers was founder, chair and chief executive of TCA Cable TV, and he helped to revolutionize the national cable television industry. His family foundation has benefited many worthy projects throughout the community.

Local foundations followed the lead of the Rogers Foundation and provided substantial funding for the new facility.

Individual donors were also very supportive of the project. Ben and Elizabeth Sutton provided a generous contribution and were honored with the Ben and Elizabeth Sutton Floor within the facility. The floor features advanced skills labs for nursing, a medical technology laboratory classroom, radiologic technology X-ray lab, sonography lab, surgical technology operating room, student lounge and learning resource center and technology enhanced classrooms

The Suttons are no strangers to TJC, and Ben received the distinguished alumnus award from the TJC Alumni Association in 2014.

Elizabeth said, “Tyler Junior College was the ideal place for Ben to resume his education after serving in WWII. It was local and provided encouraging faculty and opportunities for community involvement. Without TJC, he would not have continued his studies.”

The Suttons have contributed to various initiatives at the college including the Rogers Nursing & Health Sciences Center.
“The facility is rich in educational opportunities for aspiring healthcare professionals,” she said. “We are fortunate to have had the opportunity to invest in this new resource. TJC is a legacy institution and so vital to Tyler and East Texas.”

Corporate support was also key to the success of the project including local companies such as Tyler’s Southside Bank. The bank’s donation was recognized with the Southside Bank classroom, the largest instructional space in the Rogers Nursing & Health Sciences Center.

“TJC has been an influential institution in this area, and its economic impact is constantly increasing,” said Sam Dawson, president and chief executive officer of Southside Bank, as well as a TJC alumnus. “With the growing East Texas healthcare industry, the opportunities offered through the new facility will benefit students as well as residents in and around this region. The need for healthcare in East Texas continues to grow and we believe this facility prepares students for many years to come.”

Tyler Junior College also received generous gifts from all three of the college’s governing bodies, including the TJC board of trustees, the TJC Foundation board and the TJC Alumni Association board.

Nancy Duckett Lunceford, a TJC alumna, former Apache Belle and current member of the foundation board, was one of the first board members to pledge her support and one of the first donors to the project.

“Dr. Metke gave us a presentation and I thought, ‘This is wonderful!’” she said. “I was excited for TJC and the city of Tyler and for all the students who can go there and make a contribution to the city. What a glorious opportunity for students just out of high school. I just wanted to be part of it. Think of the thousands of students who will use the facility in years to come.”

Lunceford gave to name a classroom in memory of her late husband, David. “We met at TJC. He was a football player and I was an Apache Belle. He was from Van and was the first in his family to go to college. I hope it will inspire others to do the same. I want to give an opportunity for any student to have a successful life and maybe come back and give to TJC as we have,” she said.

David Lunceford went on to play professional football, and then had a career with Exxon, which provided a generous matching gift to the RNHSC. “Exxon is wonderful,” Nancy Lunceford said. “Their matching funds program has provided support for colleges and universities all over.”

Dr. Paul Powell, who serves on the board of the Rogers Foundation, was instrumental in establishing the lead gift for the nursing and health sciences center.

“TJC is one of the outstanding institutions of Tyler and has been for many years,” Powell said. “Any foundation that is interested in Tyler should support projects like this. I would like to see private foundations in the area support one big project every year. We could do something major on an annual basis. We believe in trying to cooperate to make things better, and helping TJC is a great way to do that.”

To be part of the future of the Rogers Nursing & Health Sciences Center, contact Mitch Andrews at 903-510-2034, or mand@tjc.edu.


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Alumni, Community, On Campus, Summer 2015

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