UT System Regents approve naming of Vandergriff Hall at College Park
The University of Texas System Board of Regents has approved an honorific naming of the new residence hall under construction at College Park for former Arlington Mayor, Congressman and Tarrant County Judge Tom J. Vandergriff.
Mr. Vandergriff died Dec. 30, 2010, at age 84. He played a pivotal role in moving the former Arlington State College from a two-year institution to the comprehensive four-year, research University that UT Arlington is today.
In oral history interviews archived by the UT Arlington Library, Mr. Vandergriff described the state bill signing that elevated the college to a full University that would confer undergraduate and graduate degrees as “one of the most satisfying memories of my life.”
Kendell Kelton, one of Vandergriff’s granddaughters, said the bill signing culminated a hard-fought, 10-year effort.
“He considered this his most important contribution to Arlington and the surrounding region and would be most honored and humbled by this honor,” Kelton said on behalf of the Vandergriff family.
President James D. Spaniolo said the formal dedication of Tom J. Vandergriff Hall will recognize the historic contributions of the civic leader who launched UT Arlington on its path toward becoming a nationally recognized, four-year research institution.
“Vandergriff Hall will be a fitting tribute to a man who gave a lifetime of service to the University and to the city of Arlington,” Spaniolo said.
The $80 million College Park development between Pecan and Center streets is scheduled to open in August 2012 and is Arlington’s first mixed-use, residential and retail center. The project includes the 500-bed residence hall, apartments to house another 100 students and street-level retail space just north of College Park Center, the 7,000-seat events venue scheduled to be completed late this year.
The City of Arlington is a partner in the mixed-use project, having committed up to $18 million in bonds toward the interior parking structures. Downtown Arlington visitors, College Park Center patrons and First Baptist Church - Arlington visitors will share 1,800 spaces in the new garages with the University community. First Baptist contributed land toward the project.
Mr. Vandergriff served as Arlington mayor from 1951 to 1977. He is credited with securing land needed to expand what was then a two-year college to the University’s current 400-acre footprint. Mr. Vandergriff lobbied Texas lawmakers over four legislative sessions and ultimately persuaded a majority in 1959 to grant the college four-year institution status.
He worked with the late state Sen. Don Kennard to move Arlington State College from the Texas A&M System to The University of Texas System in 1965. Mr. Vandergriff also championed legislation in 1967 that created UT Arlington’s Institute of Urban Studies, now housed within the School of Urban and Public Affairs.
A gifted storyteller, Mr. Vandergriff also served as announcer at Arlington State and UT Arlington football games from the 1950s until the football program was disbanded in 1985.
A formal dedication of Tom J. Vandergriff Hall is expected in 2012.
The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of nearly 34,000 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.
The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.
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