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Howard Payne educator helped shape UTA's destiny

Lynn Little
Lynn Little played a key role in UT Arlington's move from the Texas A&M System to the UT System in 1965, the year he served as Arlington State College student government president. The photo at right is taken from the 1965 Reveille yearbook.

Lynn Little, Arlington State College class of 1965, has a truckload of treasured memories from his college days.

He helped start the fraternity now known as Delta Tau Delta. He met a pretty young coed named Mimi, who became his wife a year later. He was elected the symbol of school spirit, Johnny Reb. And then there was his role in helping shape the direction of The University of Texas at Arlington that led it to become the emerging national research institution it is today. Little says he was an "eyewitness to history" when he served as student government president in 1965. That's when the University became part of the UT System instead of Texas A&M, as it had been since 1917.

A bit of history: In 1963, a reorganization of the Texas A&M University System focused on the College Station campus, even though the enrollment at Arlington State College was larger at the time. That prompted ASC officials and student leaders, along with citizens like Arlington Mayor Tom Vandergriff, to firmly advocate separation from the A&M system. They recruited help from University of Texas alumnus and then-Governor John Connally and District 10 State Senator Don Kennard to build a team destined for success.

Thanks to their efforts, Arlington State College officially became a part of UT System in April 1965, and in 1967, its name became The University of Texas at Arlington.

"I believed as a leader, it was my responsibility to act on the views of my constituents," Little said, modestly downplaying his role. "Besides, A&M treated ASC like a stepchild. The UT System seemed more interested in helping the college grow, and there was potential for accessing some of the oil money in the Permanent University Fund to help that growth."

In addition to juggling his student activities, Little worked at a Dallas bakery during his college days. Looking back, he says he tried to do everything and, as a result, study time may have suffered. Still, he was a good student and, looking at his successful career, it becomes obvious he liked life on a college campus.

After earning his undergraduate degree in biology, Little went on to earn a Master of Science from the University of North Texas, a Master of Business Administration from UT Dallas and a Master of Public Health from the UT School of Public Health. He capped those degrees with a doctorate from UT Southwestern Medical Center, where he worked for 18 years.

He was professor and chair of the Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences when he left the medical school to become dean of the School of Science and Mathematics at Howard Payne University. He says the school, located right in the middle of Texas, is small, attracts strong, motivated students and the atmosphere is like "a big family."

He still feels a strong tie to UT Arlington and delights in get-togethers with his old roommate and his fraternity brothers.