After his introduction, Tyler Junior College’s newest president, Dr. L. Michael Metke stands quietly behind the Apache spirited audience, and simply smiles as he waits to begin his inauguration speech. Metke was honored April 4 with an inauguration that included community members, students, faculty and dignitaries from the surrounding area.
“TJC is such a premier junior college, and it’s just such an honor to be here,” Metke said. “I hope that I can be as good a president as the college deserves.”
The traditional inauguration process incorporated customary activities such as a processional, a presentation of colors, an investiture and an inaugural address.
“Inaugurations have been held for centuries. They really mark a transition, a rebirth of an institution,” Fred Peters, marketing and public information director said. “I think certainly that’s what this means to our students and the future of our college. Dr. Metke has good plans that are going to lead us to a new generation of Tyler Junior College.”
Metke actually began his presidential duties in December 2007 and many believe he has already made a difference in that short time frame.
“I believe he already has been a positive influence on TJC, with the free tuition and fee proposal [for TJC employees] that he was able to pass with the bored of trustees, and the new campuses in Lindale and South Tyler,” Student Activities Director Scott Nalley said. “I think he has already made a positive impact.”
Maria Cruces, vice president of TJC Student Senate, spoke on behalf of students to welcome Metke by acknowledging the things he has already accomplished on campus and the relationships he has formed.
“The Student Senate, the oldest organization on the TJC campus, congratulates Dr. L. Michael Metke on the occasion of this inauguration,” Cruces said. “Dr. Metke has already been busy the last few months at TJC forming focus groups as well as defeating the champion ping-pong player of Rogers Student Center.”
The Student Senate wasn’t the only organization that participated. Among the approximately 150-person audience, many clubs, organizations and teams were represented including the band, the Apache Belles, choir, football team, tennis team, golf team and almost every member of the faculty and staff.
Speaking on behalf of the faculty was Shelley Kersh, TJC Faculty Senate President, who welcomed Metke by recognizing past accomplishments as stepping-stones to the future.
“President L. Michael Metke, not only can you be an avid mountain climber, but you’ve chosen TJC as your next peak on your congressional horizon,” Kersh said. “We welcome your vision, your wisdom and your leadership. I challenge you to keep building on TJC’s legacy.”
Metke’s life has taken him on a number of journeys. He is an avid outdoorsman and has climbed six mountains, including Kilimanjaro in Africa and Fuji in Japan. He was also a Peace Corps volunteer and has traveled throughout Latin America.
“I hope that we are all a product of our own history,” Metke said. “We bring strengths and weaknesses based on who we are, and I’m hoping that some of my experiences have been helpful.”
Metke has a number of goals he hopes to accomplish for TJC over his term as president.
“I really want to bring the college together and do a master plan for the college and develop a strategic plan, which will be a road map for the future,” Metke said. “And part of that I hope to bring people together to work for the common good, to work in partnership.”
Of the goals he hopes to accomplish, there are a few specific things that he believes will improve TJC.
“I want to work in close partnership with the University of Texas at Tyler, with the area school districts and with the business community,” he said.
“And I hope that we would have a nursing and allied health building sometime during my term here.”
Community members and delegates from other institutions, learned societies and professional organizations also attended.
“It’s a great day to celebrate in the life of a sister institution,” Kilgore College President, Bill Holda said. “We’re all related to each other in higher education and anytime an institution engages in new leadership and has a bright future and so much to give the community. It’s a great day to celebrate.”
David Hudson, president of the TJC Board of Trustees, welcomed and introduced Metke as well as presented him with the Chain of Office with the assistance if Metke’s wife Donna.
“Dr. Metke will not only honor and preserve the TJC legacy,” Hudson said. “But he will take this institution in a new direction to help us meet the growing needs of our students and our community.”