On Friday morning, TJC President Dr. Juan E. Mejia led the College’s convocation in preparation for the 2019-2020 academic year.
From the outset of Friday’s convocation, Mejia set an upbeat, energetic tone for the College’s faculty and staff and began his keynote speech by recalling the inspiring and prophetic words of TJC’s first president, G.O. Clough, when the College began in 1926:
“The future of the institution will, in a measure, depend upon you … Shall it be truth, honor and integrity, or shall it be carelessness and indifference? Shall it be earnest, conscientious work, or shall it be any way to get credit? My vision and my hope for the Tyler Junior College of tomorrow depend upon the earnest, sincere and ambitious students of today.”
Mejia said, “At our commencement ceremonies, we hear these words that talk about the genesis of our beloved institution, and here’s the magic about these words: This is not about an institution somewhere else in our state or country. These words were written about this place, our home, our College.
“There were visionary leaders in our region who believed in the need for educational opportunities. So, in 1926, courageous men and women came forward as vanguards and said, ‘Let’s create a junior college that will be among the very best in the country.’”
Mejia said Clough’s words will continue to resonate as TJC rolls out its upcoming strategic plan.
“You are the authors and architects of the East Texas miracle,” he said. “Think of what our region would be without the creation of our beloved institution. We have over 93 years of stellar service, and we don’t have to envy anyone. We get to walk among giants, we get to experience authentic leadership, and now witness the signature of authenticity through the great things this College has brought forward for generations and therefore positively impact families to eternity.
“The nucleus of society is the family, and the family can be impacted by one person that we connect to.”
Mejia then listed his personal values: mission, empowering, ethical, legacy and accountability.
“This is what I believe,” he said. “I believe in the mission of junior colleges, and most importantly, I believe in the mission of Tyler Junior College. TJC is the catalyst for positive change in our community.”
Mejia then laid out his plans as the College works on its strategic plan, with faculty and staff working as “One TJC,” moving forward in a united front, always with a surgical precision focus on how best to serve our students and our communities.
He listed the strategic plan’s core values: unity, caring, integrity, empowering and excellence.
“These values resonate with us,” he said, “this is who we are.”
Roueche serves as guest speaker
Guest speaker was Dr. John Edward Roueche, director of the Center for Community College Leadership, Kansas State University.
Roueche, a longtime educator and community college authority, addressed the importance of relating to students and leading them to success.
“I try to remember that all of us aren’t just in the business of teaching history and English,” he said. “The most important thing for us to remember is that we are in the student development business. What matters is if students can walk into your classroom or office and feel really welcome there – that you’re glad to see them, that they feel comfortable being there, and that you are glad to see them. Teaching is really about counseling and advising and relating to the student as a human being. It’s like a saying I heard so long ago that said, ‘Students don’t care how much they learn until they learn how much you care.”
He earlier served as president of the Roueche Graduate Center, National American University, from 2012 to 2017. He served as the Sid Richardson Regents Chair and as professor and director of the Community College Leadership Program at The University of Texas at Austin from 1971 to 2012.
Since 1970, Roueche has spoken to more than 1,300 colleges and universities on topics of teaching and leadership excellence. He is the author of 37 books and more than 175 articles and chapters focused on leadership, teaching, and learning. He has served as Principal Investigator for more than $40 million in projects funded by major American foundations during his years of service at UT Austin.
TJC faculty award presentations
Faculty Senate President Tim Gill presented faculty awards.
This year’s Endowed Chair for Teaching Excellence Awards recipients were:
• Jae Jerkins, professor, humanities and philosophy – The Thomas Shelby, Jr. Endowed Chair for Teaching Excellence
• James Ledet, coordinator/professor, public administration and criminal justice – The George W. Pirtle and El Freda Taylor Pirtle Endowed Chair for Teaching Excellence
• Regan Minkel, English professor – The Dorothy Fay and Jack White Endowed Chair for Teaching Excellence
The Mattie Alice Scroggin Baker Excellence in Teaching Award winner was Frank Kimlicko, music professor. Runners-up were Traci Borum, English professor, and Geoffrey Willbanks, government and economics department chair and government professor.
The Adjunct Excellence in Teaching Award winner was Amy Dawson, adjunct theater professor.
The big finale
To end the convocation festivities on a high note, the 195-member TJC Apache Band marched into the gym to their “Apache Beat,” and then performed “Come Fly with Me” and “Rocketman/Major Tom” from this year’s halftime show, “Intergalactic.”