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
The residence hall under construction at College Park will be
named in honor of former Arlington Mayor and Tarrant County Judge Tom J.
Vandergriff. College Park is scheduled to open in August 2012.
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.
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.