The leaders of the University of Texas at Arlington and Tarrant County College see their institutions as the engines powering economic development in the county and North Texas.

UT-Arlington on May 10 received a major financial boost to push its efforts into overdrive. Jennifer Cowley, UT-Arlington president, announced a $12 million donation from oil billionaire Kelcy Warren for the university’s new resource and energy engineering program that launches in the fall.

“The new program will fuel faculty and research excellence and provide our engineering students with life-changing opportunities for educational and career success,” Cowley told business leaders gathered on the floor of the College Park Center. “It is his generous support that will ensure that UTA becomes a national leader in energy education and research.”

Cowley announced the donation — the largest in the institution’s history — during the Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural State of Higher Education event, where TCC Chancellor Elva LeBlanc touted the agility and adaptability of community colleges.

Warren, a 1978 graduate of UT-Arlington, was honored to give back to his alma mater, he said.

“Texas faces a critical need for highly skilled graduates who can manage energy resources, and this innovative REE (resource and energy engineering) program will help meet that demand,” Warren said in a statement.

Meeting the demands of the workforce is key for LeBlanc. She touted TCC’s partnerships with businesses, K-12 education systems and traditional four-year universities as how her college is preparing students for their future careers and helping workers who are changing careers.

“We respond to our business partners by continuously adapting and implementing pathways,” LeBlanc said. “That keeps students progressing efficiently toward completion and aligns with career opportunities.”

Combined, TCC and UT-Arlington have an economic impact of more than $25 billion, said Michael Jacobson, president and CEO of the Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce. 

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Jacob SanchezEnterprise Reporter

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise reporter for the Fort Worth Report. His work has appeared in the Temple Daily Telegram, The Texas Tribune and the Texas Observer. He is a graduate of St. Edward’s University....