Emily Bush • Staff Writer
Do students pay for Tidwell to play golf? The simple answer is no. President Dr. Michael Tidwell does not use funds from students’ tuition bills to pay for his country club visits.
“Expenses such as [social club memberships] are not paid with tuition dollars or state funds,” UT Tyler Vice President for Marketing and Chief Communications Officer Lucas Roebuck said in an email interview. “Instead, they are paid from Lindsey funds, an endowment created in 1982 by a gift from Louise Lindsey Merrick to honor her father, Sam A. Lindsey. Among the many purposes of the endowment, the funds are to be used to ‘promote the growth and increase the opportunities’ available at UT Tyler.”
Roebuck went on to say that Tidwell’s social club memberships “must be approved by the UT System executive vice chancellor for academic affairs,” just like the memberships of other UT System academic presidents.
The reason why Tidwell’s country club visits are paid is because these visits help develop relationships with potential donors because these relationships “are key to successfully earning impactful gifts.” On the outside, these visits may seem like a break for the president. In reality, he is earning donations by becoming closer with the donors.
Now that we have the “why” out of the way, let’s get to the numbers.
As calculated in 2019-2020, Tidwell used $454 for an annual fee at the Austin Club, a social club in Austin, (for when he meets with Texas legislators and UT System board members) and $545.06 for a monthly fee at the Willow Brook Country Club in Tyler, totaling $6,994.72 for one year at both clubs.
Other staff members do the same, such as Dr. Howard Patterson, UT Tyler’s athletic director. Patterson used $2,727.96 for an annual fee at Tyler's Hollytree Country Club.
These donations can be seen put to use in the buildings around campus, as the relationships Tidwell and Patterson form with benefactors often bring new buildings and other improvements to campus.