The Texarkana College Foundation will host a dedication ceremony on Wednesday, November 5 at 10 a.m. to name the Texarkana College Health Sciences Center in honor of the late Dr. William R. Patterson. Patterson was instrumental in the establishment of Texarkana College’s Associate Degree Nursing program in 1959, the first accredited associate nursing degree program in Texas and one of the first in the entire Southwest. He is also credited for founding the Texarkana College Foundation, which will accept the $1 million gift from his son- and daughter-in-law, Cary and Lois Patterson, at the dedication ceremony.
“Dr. Patterson is remembered today as one of the greatest pioneers Texarkana College has ever known,” Texarkana College President James Henry Russell said. “He had a deep concern for wanting Texarkana College to be first class and his legacy is one of devotion, determination and humility. It is fitting that our new health sciences facility be named in his honor. Without his vision years ago, our Associate Degree Nursing program would not exist today. Thousands of students have had their dreams come true by having access to this program, and as a result, our community’s health care system is full of its graduates. We can never thank him or his family enough for the dedication he showed toward Texarkana College.”
Along with the formation of the nursing school, Patterson served on the Texarkana College Board of Trustees from 1957 through 1981, longer than any other board member. In 1981, he was appointed by the Governor of Texas to serve as a member of the Texas Coordinating Board of Colleges and Universities (now the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board), where he served for six years. Then, in 1987, he returned to fill an open seat on the Board of Trustees, where he served until his death in 1989. After Patterson’s death, an endowed scholarship fund was established in his memory to be given to non-traditional students.
Before serving in the U.S. Air Force, Patterson attended Texarkana College. After his military service, he entered dental school at Washington University in St. Louis. After graduating from dentalschool, he received a master of science degree in radiation biology from East Texas State University at Commerce.
“It is with deep gratitude that we honor the Patterson family with the naming of this
building,” said Katie Andrus, Executive Director of the Texarkana College Foundation.
“However, the contributions of the Patterson family are not limited to the nursing program alone. They encompass the betterment of Texarkana College as a whole and the support of higher education in our region.”
While preparing for the ceremony, Andrus was going through College archives and
historical articles about Dr. Patterson and found a 1987 Texarkana Gazette about his service with Texarkana College and his 29-year dedication to the nursing program. The following words from Dr. Patterson were quoted in the article and Andrus believes they still resonate today:
The greatest gift a parent can give a child is to plant the seed of intellectual curiosity in him or her. It is an asset that will never depreciate, a gift that in their later years will be their most prized possession. The gift is here on this [Texarkana College] campus and is easily available.
To date, the donation from Cary and Lois Patterson is the largest single gift the
Texarkana College Foundation has ever received.
The dedication ceremony will take place on the grounds of the new Health Science
Center facing the Nelson Administration building. A reception will follow the ceremony.