Tarleton State University and the city of Stephenville have been partners since the day in 1899 when the school was established through the visionary gift of John Tarleton. The city and the university are inseparably linked, and the health and vitality of each depends on the success and vibrancy of the other.

Tarleton is the largest employer in Erath County and among the largest in the Cross Timbers region. With an annual budget of nearly $155 million and construction projects that raise expenditures to almost $200 million, Tarleton’s economic impact is significant. Numerous studies have shown that every dollar invested in higher education is multiplied up to eight times as it circulates throughout the community.

The university payroll and purchases stimulate local business. Our students eat at restaurants, buy gas, shop for clothes, rent houses and apartments and pump more money into the economy, creating jobs and businesses. The many camps, conferences, arts and athletic events fuel the local hotel/motel tax, contributing more dollars.

Tarleton also fuels the economy through its graduates. College-educated citizens earn more money, pay more taxes and contribute to society as leaders in their professions and their communities. This past year, we awarded more than 2,300 academic degrees. These are the professionals, the leaders, the taxpayers of the future.

A bachelor’s degree, according to U.S. statistical data, enables a person to earn about $25,000 a year, on average, more than if that person had only received a high school diploma. During a 40-year career, that means $1 million in additional earnings. For those with advanced degrees, earnings are even higher.

While earning that additional income and contributing economically to their communities, Tarleton graduates also provide the services in business, education, agriculture, health and many other careers that contribute to the prosperity of their communities. For example, Stephenville Independent School District hires a number of high quality teachers who graduate from Tarleton and enhance the success of SISD.

The core values of a Tarleton education -- integrity, leadership, tradition, civility, excellence and service – are carried by our graduates into their careers and their communities.

Tarleton is a good public citizen, as are its 1,200 employees who actively contribute to the social and cultural vitality of the community. Faculty and staff, as well as students, provide countless hours of volunteer service. Tarleton and its people contribute every day toward improving the quality of life for all residents of our community. A few examples:

• Our Southwest Regional Dairy Center, a public/private partnership, is the only one of its kind in Texas, fostering research and economic opportunities.

• The Cross Timbers Health Clinic, inspired by a Tarleton professor and aided by Tarleton research funding, assists low-income individuals in Stephenville.

• Tarleton’s Department of Kinesiology annually sponsors a Fantastic Field Day for area school children with disabilities.

• Hundreds of students participate each year in the Tarleton Round-Up, a day of service that helps Stephenville's elderly residents and others who cannot perform common chores.

• Tarleton’s renowned T.R.E.A.T. program provides equine therapy for children and others with special needs.

• Tarleton’s Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research is researching environmental and water issues and coming up with solutions that benefit the region, the state and the world.

As a good neighbor, Tarleton is committed to strengthening its relationship with Stephenville and its residents. We will foster our partnership and seek creative opportunities to move forward together – economically, socially, culturally.

We owe as much to the vision of John Tarleton and the pioneers who came before us, and to the generations yet to be born.

F. Dominic Dottavio is president of Tarleton State University.