The University of Texas at Tyler
“The greatest gift is the passion for reading.”
Dr. Svetislava J. Vukelja and Dr. Larry L. Anderson.
When Dr. Lawrence L. Anderson and his wife, Dr. Svetislava J. Vukelja, presented The University of Texas at Tyler (UT Tyler) with a $100,000 endowment, it was not just about financial support. The couple wanted to impact the University, the community, and generations of children by sharing an incredible gift—reading.
The Gary Wright Diagnostic Reading Endowment they established is invested in the Long Term Fund and funds diagnostic reading services for children.
“Education has always been one of our passions, along with reading,” Dr. Anderson said. “We wanted to do something in the community that would have the biggest impact on the largest number of kids … and we wanted to tribute Gary’s many years of service.”
Dr. Gary Wright, Professor of Reading, has been a member of the UT Tyler faculty for 33 years. He is nationally recognized for his work in diagnostic testing and helped establish undergraduate and graduate reading programs at the University.
“We are in the business of helping undergraduate students become teachers. They need to know how to teach reading,” said Dr. Wright. “Everyone understands the importance of reading—it is a very important aspect of any child’s education. A lot of children struggle because they cannot get individual attention. We try to provide that service. The gift given graciously by the Andersons helps us do that.”
The endowment provides the diagnostic and teaching materials graduate and undergraduate students need for clinical and field practicums. Dr. Wright said students work in a clinic setting on campus and go into local schools to help children who struggle with reading. The endowment has also provided materials for the program on satellite campuses.
“Expertise can be hindered by a lack of basic tools to educate and apply that expertise in the best possible way,” Dr. Vukelja said.
“(University) students are providing a public service, while at the same time gaining hands-on experience teaching these students how to read,” said Dr. Wright.
In addition to the Diagnostic Reading Endowment, Drs. Anderson and Vukelja also established an endowment to help support the UT Tyler Distinguished Lecture Series, which brings internationally prominent speakers to the campus.
In November 2006, the endowment will help bring former President George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States, to UT Tyler. Other distinguished guests in the 25-year history of the lecture series have included Henry Kissinger, Coretta Scott King, George Stephanopoulos, and long-time Israeli political leader Shimon Perez.
(Back row, from left) Dr. Gary Wright, President Rodney Mabry, Dr. Larry L. Anderson, Dr. Svetislava J. Vukelja. (Standing front) Maxi Anderson.
“In this age of the 30-second sound bite, it is exceedingly unusual to sit and listen to experts of this stature share their views of the world. We’ve lived in many big cities and never seen anything like it!” Dr. Anderson said.
“When these speakers share their views on issues, it complements what the students are learning on the theoretical level,” said Dr. Vukelja. “They can see the product of life experience and education at work. They can see people who are educated just like they are who are impacting the world!”