TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) visited UT Tyler’s campus on Monday to visit the UT Tyler Health Science Center and participate in a roundtable with local UT leadership.

Several officials attended along with Cruz, including UT Tyler President Kirk Calhoun, Tyler Mayor Don Warren, Smith County Judge Neal Franklin and Sen. Bryan Hughes.

“People have strong values, values that hold our community together,” Cruz said. “Tyler is a wonderful growing city, and I’ll tell you one of the real blessings of Tyler is the phenomenal medical community that’s here.”

Calhoun started the press conference by talking about all the expansions UT Tyler has been making on the medical front. The school held a groundbreaking in January for their new $308 million medical education building.

Photo of UT and state officials shoveling dirt at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new UT Tyler Medical Education Building.
Photo from the groundbreaking ceremony at the UT Tyler Medical Education Building

“We’ve had so much support from the UT System Board of Regents as well as from the community,” Calhoun said of the new medical school. “We would not have a medical school here in Tyler if it weren’t for the proceeds of the sale, the East Texas Medical Center Foundation providing us with an $80 million gift to get the medical school up and going, and that way we didn’t have to go to Rep. Hughes to get the Texas Legislature to get us started, we had that gift to get us started.”

Calhoun said Hughes was helpful to the university during the last legislative session by helping achieve mission-critical support for their pharmacy school and supporting an expanded nursing program.

Cruz said he was at UT Tyler to spend 10% of his time speaking, and 90% of his time listening. At one point during the press conference, school officials had a roundtable of sorts where they talked to Cruz about their residency training programs, the new nursing addition on the main campus, behavioral and mental health efforts in the region and more.

“I have a deep love for East Texas, I think this community- the values in East Texas are as strong as they are any place in the planet,” Cruz said. “This is a place where common sense is surprising common.”