Dr. Mike Metke, retired TJC chancellor and CEO, was awarded an honorary Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene (BSDH) during Friday's commencement for the TJC School of Nursing and Health Sciences.
Metke joined TJC as president in 2007 and was named chancellor and CEO in 2018. He retired in 2019.
Dr. Deana Sheppard, TJC provost and vice president for academic and student affairs, said, “Dr. Metke was instrumental in the continued success of this institution and vital to the success in making TJC one of the four legacy colleges in the state of Texas to be given the opportunity to award specialized baccalaureate degrees.”
TJC was the first junior/community college in Texas to award a Bachelor of Science degree — in this case, the BSDH. The program began in Fall 2016, with 15 inaugural students; and since then, 79 students have earned their BSDH at TJC.
“What an honor it is for me to recognize one of the most decorated administrators throughout the entire country,” TJC President and CEO Dr. Juan E. Mejia said during the presentation. “Dr. Metke has been celebrated throughout our region, and at the state and federal level. He has been a dear friend and mentor for over 30 years, and our communities are better because of his significant contributions.”
Dr. Mike Metke
Metke said, “This means the world to me. TJC is such a great place, and I never worked with finer people. We wanted to make sure that our hygienists were as valued as possible. Anywhere you go for treatment here in East Texas, it’s always our people and it’s the best dental care that you’re going to get. They really are the best.”
About the program
When TJC leaders began exploring the idea of a baccalaureate degree, no other four-year dental hygiene program existed between Dallas and Shreveport; so, President Metke and Mejia, who at that time was serving as provost and vice president for academic and student affairs, felt confident that TJC could fill an area need.
Plus, since TJC had just opened the new Robert M. Rogers Nursing & Health Sciences Center, the school had the latest equipment and technology already on site.
In early 2015, TJC leaders began pursuing approval from the Texas Legislature. Legislative action on the issue was first granted in late 2015, after then-State Sen. Kevin Eltife and State Rep. Travis Clardy filed companion bills in the Texas Legislature to create the program.
Numerous public entities, including the city of Tyler and Tyler ISD, passed resolutions supporting TJC’s drive to offer the degree; and the bills introduced by Eltife and Clardy amended the Texas Education Code to allow the Texas Education Coordinating Board to approve the program for TJC.
Both bills passed the state Legislature, and the coordinating board subsequently approved the program.
Students in TJC’s BSDH program can choose a one- or two-year track, depending on how far along they are in their studies and how quickly they want to move through the program.
Program graduates will have many new avenues for professional growth ranging from education and administration to research and public health.
“The degree opens opportunities for those in the field to advance themselves professionally,” said Carrie Hobbs, TJC dental studies department chair. “For instance, if you work for any state facility such as a prison or a public health organization, or if you want to go into marketing or administration.
“There’s also much more research being performed in dentistry, and researchers must have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Then, of course, educators are required to have at least a four-year degree to be able to teach at the college level.”
For more information, go to TJC.edu/dental.