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Heroes & Friends - Dr. Rod Mabry

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Over the last several months, my good friend, Tyler Junior College President Dr. Mike Metke, and I have worked together to form a number of partnerships that will better serve our students and our community. I know this makes sense from an educational standpoint, but I also know so from personal experience, and I want to pay forward some of the help I received along the way in my own career.

I started out at a junior college. Although my sights were set on going to the University of Kentucky in the fall, I took four courses at Paducah Junior College in the summer. I had already chosen to be an economist, but my backup plan was to take political science, then law and follow a path to work in the U.S. State Department. I mention this as a reminder of how an 18-year-old college student thinks. Some really know what they want to do, some have an inkling of what they might want to do, some have a wild idea or two and some really have no idea at all. Beginning at a junior college offers many students a great opportunity to consider a wide variety of possible vocations and professions.

Dr. Metke and I recently signed a series of documents related to seamless transfer of college credit for students that attend TJC first and wish to complete a baccalaureate degree at UT Tyler. As part of the numerous transfer agreements we signed, TJC and UT Tyler were the first in the State of Texas to sign a Mechanical Engineering Transfer Compact which facilitates the transfer of TJC students into UT Tyler’s baccalaureate mechanical engineering program. In fact, this fall UT Tyler began offering introductory engineering classes on the TJC campus to help strong math and science students explore these high-demand career fields.

Nearly 50 percent of TJC’s students who transfer to another college for a bachelor’s degree come to UT Tyler, making TJC our biggest source of transfer students – and they are excellent students. TJC does a great job of preparing students and we are glad to do our part to continue in the process.

This fall, we opened and staffed a UT Tyler transfer office located on the TJC campus. We want to do all we can to help TJC students succeed at UT Tyler, and we are constantly looking for ways to increase the probability that those students who can will go on to be engineers, chemists and teachers. By having UT Tyler advising staff at TJC, we hope to help more students reach their full potential. We are proud to take TJC students and carry them on to their next destination, whether that is the world of work or further graduate education to be a research scientist, doctor, lawyer, minister or business leader. With TJC, we have a great and worthy partnership.

As someone who lives in Tyler, I am proud that our hometown community college is truly outstanding. TJC’s students are well prepared for upper division coursework. UT Tyler is designed for high-ability students. We provide all of our students – incoming freshmen and transfers alike – with rigorous academic programs that add real value and challenge our students within a positive, caring environment. And, TJC students thrive here. I believe East Texas has a true gem in TJC, and I am very proud of the work we are doing together to create solutions and build brighter futures for everyone that lives in this beautiful region.

Although far from heroes, Merle and I do fit the friend category – we already count Mike and Donna Metke as friends. I am so pleased that our respective institutions are working closely together to provide educational programs of the highest quality.

TJC Hero and Friend Dr. Rod Mabry has been UT Tyler’s president since 1998. Under his leadership, enrollment has nearly doubled to more than 6,000 high-ability students. The University has been recognized for its nursing, engineering and education programs, in which the students lead the state in pass rates on licensure exams. Continuing to meet the needs of the East Texas region by addressing the nursing shortage, UT Tyler implemented its first Ph.D. program last fall in nursing