This year’s adult recipient of the Wilbur Award is Liz Patterson, Assistant Vice President for Student Success at Texas A&M University-Texarkana. Liz is responsible for many departments on campus and as a Texarkana native, is focused on telling “our story” and encouraging others to stay here and participate in making Texarkana better for all. Liz is responsible for Success Center tutoring, transfer students, TRIO programs focused on providing services for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, academic advising, first-year experiences, and also assists with the PATH mentorship program for men of color.
What makes Liz worthy of the Wilbur award is the way in which she encompasses all of our community’s key values: educational excellence, cultural riches, community beauty, personal well- being of citizens, and working smart for our best collective future. While working with and for Liz, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard her say “whatever is best for the student.” Everything that our department does is for the better of each and every student on our campus.
Liz is a constant and consistent voice for students when upper administration meets to incorporate new ideas, procedures, and policies that will directly impact students and their academic career. Liz truly believes in supporting all students in higher education and eliminating any and all “hurdles” in any process, policy, or procedure. If something can be better for students, Elizabeth Patterson is all for it, no matter if it means more work on her part. She has a heart for serving students and people, especially those at TAMU-T and in the Texarkana area.
As a Texarkana native, Liz embodies Texarkana’s cultural riches, and she makes sure others know about them. If there was a “Texarkana History” degree, Liz would teach the courses and run the program. She knows where Texarkana has been and she knows where it’s going. Liz is involved in the Texarkana area- she believes in taking part in what Texarkana has to offer through its rich and thick history and she wants to be part of the reason why future Texarkana is better for others; she shares her experiences and shares her opinion on what Texarkana has to offer: Texarkana is bold. Texarkana is fierce. Texarkana is strong. Texarkana strives to be better each day, just like Liz Patterson.
Anyone who has met Liz knows her personality is contagious and she brightens up a room as soon as she sets foot in it. The joke around TAMU-T is you can hear her infectious laugh as soon as you walk off of the elevator on the third floor of the University Center. As you can imagine, the world of Higher education has been gloomy during the COVID-19 pandemic- things have been tough. If there has been a beacon of light during this dark time, it has been Liz and her outlook on trying times. As a leader, she reminds us, “it’s not where we are, but where we’re headed.” I believe we would all benefit from a Liz Patterson pep-talk: keep your head down, do your best, surround yourself with do-ers, work hard and play hard. Be the best version of you. Not only for yourself, but for others. Liz has a heart made of gold and she consistently works behind the scenes to make things better for others without wanting praise of acknowledgement in return. She is very rarely seen, but people often feel her presence in the work that is done at TAMU-T through student success initiatives. It’s time to give Liz Patterson a pat on the back, to show our gratitude for her in the Texarkana area–to acknowledge her as a true beauty of this community.
Leadership Texarkana’s Wilbur Awards have been given annually since 1992, in memory of community servant and historian Wilbur Smith. Celebrating the power of one to positively impact our community, the Wilbur Awards are given in three categories, honoring adults, youth, and organizations to individuals and groups whose demonstrate exemplary leadership in the community and a commitment to working together for community excellence.