UT Tyler president announces retirement effective in May

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The University of Texas at Tyler President Kirk Calhoun announced on Tuesday he will retire effective May 31.

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His retirement comes after 22 years of leading UT campuses in Tyler including serving as president at UT Tyler and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (UTHSCT).

Calhoun told KETK that when he first began working for the university in 1992, he was encouraged to try to stick around for at least 5 years.

Now 32 years later, Calhoun is walking away from a UT Tyler that looks much different.

“Jeanette and I arrived in Tyler when I was appointed as the new president of the UT Health Science Center at Tyler at age 49, some 22 years ago,” Calhoun said. “I was especially honored to be the inaugural president of the combined UT Tyler/UTHSCT. This has been a most unusual, incredibly lengthy and joyous span of service for a public university president.”

The university said the process for the selection of a new university president, including the appointment of a committee to advise UT System Chancellor J.B. Milliken, will be led by Tyler-native Kevin Eltife, UT System chairman of the Board of Regents.

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“There are many important initiatives at our Tyler campuses, and my colleagues and I will work to name a successor to President Calhoun who will build upon the work underway,” Eltife said.

According to UT Tyler, the medical education building that will be home to UT Tyler’s School of Medicine is set to open in 2025.

“There’s still a few things to do, but probably it is time to make sure that new, energetic leadership comes to the president’s role,” Calhoun said.

The university said in a release that collaboration and increased educational opportunity have been hallmarks of Calhoun’s tenure including expanded academic programs, partnerships with community colleges and industries and the merger of assets to create the UT Health East Texas hospital system.

Calhoun took part in combining the Health Science Center with UT Tyler and played a hand in expanding behavioral health services.

“When I came to the UT Health Science Center, we were providing zero behavioral health services, and now, we’re the largest provider in the region,” Calhoun said.

Calhoun said he is most proud of being a part of the establishment of the UT Health Hospital and the creation of the new medical school.

“Just playing a small role in that, I’ll be able to look back with satisfaction,” Calhoun said.

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Calhoun believes the university will only continue to grow.

“There’s never going to be a period where there’s not something big going on here,” Calhoun said.

“Dr. Calhoun’s long commitment to the UT Health Tyler, UT Tyler and the region will be felt for many years to come. Improving health and the human condition and educating and training generations of students has been his life’s work. We applaud his many impactful contributions,” Milliken said.

As far as where he will be, Calhoun said he has some dreams he wants to accomplish, but everyone is going to have to “wait and see.”

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