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Community resolve brought TSTC to Marshall, campus celebrating 25 years

Texas State Technical College in Marshall is gearing up for a whopper of a party as it celebrates its silver anniversary.

The school has set an open house from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28 at the school, 2650 E End Blvd S. In addition to being able to meet and talk with faculty and staff, attendees will be treated to tours and demonstrations of various programs, including 3D printing, process operations, instrumentation, computer aided machine, the lineman program, the virtual welder among others.

The Greater Marshall Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. at the visitors entrance. Cake and hot dogs will be provided.

“It’s a celebration of our 25 years in Marshall. It’s an exciting milestone,” TSTC Provost Bart Day said. “Come see us.”

How it all began

Wiley College launched in 1873 in Marshall. Thirty-nine years later, the College of Marshall was founded, later called East Texas Baptist University. In the late 80s, Marshall leaders noticed something lacking in secondary education training for area students, and by 1991, Texas State Technical College had opened an extension campus in Marshall.

“We started working on the possibility of getting a training facility in Marshall to help train and guide us. That’s when we hit upon the idea of TSTC,” said T.D. “Rusty” Howell, one of Marshall’s most prominent businessmen and on the first board of MEDCO, the Marshall Economic Development Corporation.

TSTC Marshall is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, which comes just two years after the entire system celebrated its 50th.

MEDCO

TSTC Marshall all started with a special election in 1990 to increase the sales tax. The sales tax generated $800,000 in revenue meant to create opportunities for businesses in Marshall, through MEDCO and its 5-member board.

Howell, who was elected chairman of the board, helped to rally the troops to the TSTC cause. Other community leaders on board with the proposition included MEDCO board members Sam Birmingham, Walter Bob Smith, Ed Baker and Tommy Whaley; then-county judge Richard Anderson; county commissioners; the mayor; and the chamber of commerce. MEDCO Director Donna Maisel said everyone was excited about the possibility.

“There was no technical training in this part of the state. And we needed technical training to support industry growth in our region,” explained Maisel. “The value of the workforce is one of the number one considerations in industrial and business recruitment. It’s difficult to bring in a manufacturing company if you don’t have the workforce. Because of that it is extremely important for community and future growth.”

The Marshall business and community leaders had to convince Texas State Technical College administrators and elected state officials that there was a real need for technical education in the region. For that, the community relied on prominent banker and local businessman, Whaley.

Whaley, along with attorney Doyle Curry, had connections with both Sen. Bill Ratliff and Gov. Ann Richards. They knew what (industries) needed as far as employees,” said Mac Abney, a TSTC Foundation board member and president of the prestigious accounting firm Abney and Co.

Whaley has since passed on. His son, Tommy Whaley Jr. agreed, and said his dad, who was later a regent for TSTC, was proud of helping get TSTC to Marshall.

“He had a whole lot to do with it,” Whaley said. “He wore the road out between here and Waco and Austin. It was a shot in the arm for East Texas.”

Abney believes Whaley was key to opening doors in Austin but credits the whole Marshall community for uniting with the common goal of bringing TSTC to town.

Jean Birmingham, wife of Sam Birmingham, one of the first MEDCO board members, said her husband was proud of the work MEDCO did to bring TSTC to Marshall.

“We all were proud, as citizens, and he was especially proud of the fact. It has still proved to be a good investment (for the community),” she said.

Legislating a school

On May 27, 1991, the 72nd Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1357, sponsored by former Sen. Bill Ratliff, establishing and funding the TSTC Marshall Extension Center. It was signed by Gov. Ann W. Richards in June 1991. But, pushing the bill through took political maneuvering and finesse.

Then-County Judge Richard Anderson, also a former Texas Senate member, said a lot of his work was behind the scenes.

“Rep. (Paul) Sadler needed something from the commissioners’ court,” he said. “I prepared a ratification, and we got four signatures sent to Sadler.”

While Ratliff submitted the bill in the Senate, Rep. Paul Sadler presented the bill in the House.

“It was the end of the day, Richard Anderson, the county judge at the time, called me on my cell (it was a bag phone back then) and had said the chamber wanted to get behind a TSTC branch,” Sadler said, adding that it was the last or next to last day to file a bill in the House. So, I turned right around and went back to the office to draft and file a copy of the bill.”

Sadler said it was lean session in the 72nd Legislature.

“It was the only campus approved that session,” he said. “There was a moratorium on spending. Of course there were some machinations along the way. The chairman of the higher education committee wanted to expand UT Permian Basin to a four-year institution. I traded my vote for his agreement to get the bill out of committee. I’m not sure anyone believed we would get it passed.”

Anderson said he asked a friend of his from the Texas Senate, Carl Parker from Port Arthur, to help shepherd the bill in the senate.

“We were asking $2 million to get started,” he said. “Once it’s there, it’s difficult to remove a line item, but getting it there is extremely difficult. Sen. Parker called me up. ‘Anderson, I’ve got good news and bad news. Bad news, I could not get $2 million – the good news is I got $1 million.’ Then, with that, that basically got funding established and kicked it off. It’s been a magnificent contribution to the area.”

Gov. Richards decided to sign the bill locally, Rep. Sadler said, adding that the bill for the Marshall campus was the first of his bills that she had signed, after vetoing his first bill.

“I had run on the campaign promise to not approve the lottery. She was on the phone begging me to vote for the lottery when I cast my vote [for no],” he said. “With my first bill, I said ‘if you’re going to veto me, at least sign it.’ And she did. It said ‘To Paul, my first veto, hopefully your last.’”

Eventually, Sadler got Richards to sign a bill of his. Luckily for Marshall, that bill was the extension campus.

“When the TSTC bill came around, she called and said, ‘I want us to sign this together in Marshall,’” he said.

Open for business

A couple months later, doors at the TSTC East Texas Center were open for classes, albeit in temporary buildings. Seventy-eight students were enrolled that first semester. A year later, TSTC had acquired permanent land and building that would eventually be the TSTC Marshall North Campus.

Sen. Ratliff said though the legislators pushed it through the governmental procedures, what really built TSTC Marshall was the local effort.

“What made it possible was the amount of enthusiasm from local people, willingness from MEDCO to go out and acquire property,” said Sen. Ratliff. “Something like that doesn’t happen without a strong local presence.”

In 1995, MEDCO made a $4.69 million investment in the construction of an 80,000-square-foot facility on the new South Campus. By that point, more than $10 million had been invested in TSTC Marshall from MEDCO. In 1997, the campus broke ground on the first dormitories.

Former Rep. Paul Sadler wrote the legislation during the 76th Texas Legislature seeking the elevation of the extension center to a stand-alone campus. Ratliff sponsored the legislation, and then-Gov. George W. Bush signed it in 1999. In 2002, TSTC Marshall received full accreditation from the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges.

Today, with a well-established campus in place, TSTC has graduated more than 3,000 men and women into the workforce. What started with 78 students has grown to 608 students enrolled for the fall 2017 semester. Maisel said that when industries come to look over Marshall as a potential site, they visit MEDCO, which is on the TSTC campus.

“It’s almost an immediate tour and allure to consider Marshall,” said Maisel. “TSTC is one of the best investments MEDCO ever made in this community. It has brought a return many times over the investment made.”

Howell agreed.

“MEDCO has done a good job in the community,” Howell said. “The success of an education facility is similar to the success of a business that if you can’t or don’t have a market for the product that you merchandize to the public then you’re not a success, and we wanted a goal for TSTC to have jobs for a minimum of 90 percent of the graduates, and they have done that. They have exceeded that.”

Marshall campus timeline

  • May 27, 1991 – The 72nd Legislature passes Senate Bill 1357 by State Sen. Bill Ratliff, establishing the Marshall Extension Center and provides funding for the center in the appropriations bill.

  • September 1, 1991 – TSTC Waco opens the Marshall Extension Center, also known as the TSTC East Texas Center.

  • August, 1992 – The Marshall Extension Center holds its first classes in temporary quarters in the Marshall Exploration Building.

  • 1993 – The Marshall Extension Center holds classes in the North Campus, a former Gibson’s store.

  • 1995 – The Marshall Extension Center begins construction of a new “South” Campus with $5.4 million in funds from the Economic Development Administration and the Marshall Economic Development Corporations, making the total investment in TSTC’s East Texas Center equal $10 million.

  • July, 1996 – The Marshall Extension Center dedicates its new 80,000-square-foot facility, the first on the new South Campus.

  • 1997 – The Marshall Extension Center offers on-campus housing for 100 students. The Marshall Higher Education Financing Corporation provides funding for the project.

  • June 19, 1999 – The Gov. George W. Bush signs House Bill 1049 making the Marshall Extension Center a stand-alone college under the TSTC System.

  • September 1, 1999 – The Marshall Extension Center separates from TSTC Waco and becomes an independent campus, known as TSTC Marshall.

  • 2002 – TSTC Marshall receives full SACS Accreditation for all programs offered at the Marshall Campus.

  • Summer 2011 – TSTC Marshall opens new “TNT Building,” Transportation and Technology Building to house the Industrial Maintenance, Diesel Equipment, and Welding Technology Programs.

  • November 2012 – TSTC Marshall converts their outdoor pavilion into a new 7500 square foot Multipurpose Activity Center by enclosing the pavilion and adding a heating and cooling system for the building.

  • September 1, 2013 – TSTC Marshall opens a new extension center, TSTC North Texas in Red Oak, TX.

  • January 13, 2014 - TSTC North Texas begins holding classes.

Awards

  • 2009 The Coordinating & Development Corporation presents the Technical Education Award to TSTC Marshall – Aug. 27, 2009

  • 2010 MarCom Gold Award presented to Encore Multimedia and TSTC Marshall for their “Veterans TV Spot.”

  • 2011 MarCom Honorable Mention Award presented to Encore Multimedia and TSTC Marshall for their “Updating Status TV Spot.”

  • 2011 MarCom Platinum Award presented to Encore Multimedia and TSTC Marshall for their “Before and After TV Spot.”

  • 2012 The Marshall Chamber of Commerce and MEDCO (Marshall Economic Development Corporation) Shining Star Award presented to TSTC Marshall – May 16, 2012.

  • 2013 The Washington Monthly College Guide and Rankings names TSTC Marshall as the #45 out of 50 top ranked national two year colleges – September 6, 2013.

To view the original article on the Marshall News Messenger website, please click here.