TJC Chancellor Dr. Mike Metke announced Thursday at the monthly Board of Trustees meeting that he plans to retire in early summer, 2019. Metke is the sixth President/Chancellor to lead TJC in its 92 plus year history and is in his 12th year at the helm. His retirement, effective June 30, 2019, will conclude a career of more than 44 years in education.
In a letter sent to all TJC employees, Metke noted that the time is right for transition.
“A plaque on my wall from our friends says: ‘To every thing there is a season… A time to be lost and a time to be found.’ ‘Fathers’ Day 1987.’ The second half of my life has been meaningful and joyful, with Tyler being the very best. I only wish we had arrived sooner! Time is such a thief, but we are in Tyler to stay!
“Leaving TJC is harder than I ever imagined. I started working off the farm at 14, and every time I left a job to pursue a new opportunity, my employers urged me to stay. My original goal was to be here about five years, but somehow TJC grabs hold of you and won’t let go so I’m years behind my original retirement plans. Donna and I bleed black and gold. We’ll remain involved and be TJC’s top supporters in the times and seasons ahead.”
Said TJC Board of Trustees President Mike Coker, “Dr. Metke’s legacy can be seen everywhere you look. He has done so much to increase our ability to serve more students and to significantly increase their success.”
Under Metke’s leadership, the College has completed a number of major initiatives, including the following:
- Enhanced employee benefits –
- Created an alternative retirement plan allowing employees to contribute to their own accounts and receive additional matching funds
- Began offering employees/dependents prepaid tuition that enabled employees and their children to attend TJC
- Improved wages by implementing raises to reward and retain employees
- Revitalized Presidential Honors Program
- Revamped program to attract more top 10% students
- Secured Presidential Honors Scholarship Program with the Gatewoods’ $19 million gift to the College
- Rusk TJC Citizens Promise/TJC Promise
- Launched Rusk TJC Promise program in conjunction with long-time TJC supporters Jim and Margaret Perkins
- Sixth class of Rusk High School scholars will join TJC Fall 2019
- TJC Promise launched in 2016 with six ISDs in TJC’s tax district: Chapel Hill, Grand Saline, Tyler (John Tyler and Lee), Lindale, Van and Winona
- Now over 3,000 high school students are in the pipeline
- Encourages students to earn good grades, have good attendance, maintain good behavior and participate in community service
- Largest capital campaign, successful bond proposal, community partnerships
- With state funding on the decline, secured necessary resources through capital campaign, bond election and with community partners to reduce debt and enhance facilities
- Funded renovations; built the state-of-the art Rogers Nursing and Health Sciences Center; purchased equipment; built Energy Center at TJC West; opened new locations in Rusk, Jacksonville and Lindale; built new Crossroads residence hall; and secured additional land for future expansion
- Converted obsolete dorms into new Wesley House residence halls in a faith-based partnership
- Secured donation that will enable Wise Auditorium to be renovated and expanded into the Rogers Palmer Performing Arts Center
- Overall capital assets increased 95%
- TJC Foundation assets increased tenfold from $7.5 million to $75 million
- Over 50 acres of land acquired to enable future growth and development
- Secured legislative support and funding for TJC to begin offering baccalaureate degrees
- TJC became the first community college in Texas to offer a Bachelor of Science
- Recently launched second bachelor’s degree in health care technology and medical systems
- Third baccalaureate is being planned, a bachelor’s in Public Safety
- Dual Credit and Early College programs launched
- Dual credit courses are currently offered through TJC in dozens of schools in our area, enabling high school students to take college courses
- Early College High School programs at Tyler and Chapel Hill ISDs are enabling high-achieving students who would not otherwise have the means to take college classes the opportunity to take college classes and earn college degrees
- Both programs create a college-going culture for future educational success
Metke noted, “This seems the right time. TJC is at an all-time high with the best governing board I’ve ever served and the best leadership team I’ve ever assembled. At 12,270, we have the most students in our history. More importantly, we have more of the best students ever. The College’s infrastructure, buildings, donor base, Foundation, and finances are all strong and growing. Our incredibly dedicated TJC family is like no other. All our successes result from this wonderful synergy that comes from TJC’s employees, alumni, donors, supporters and friends. TJC’s future is brighter than ever.”
Metke’s life illustrates the power of education taking a young person from a small dairy farm to places and positions he never dreamed. Metke enjoyed academic success in Wisconsin, Hawaii, and Texas before earning his doctorate at the University of Houston. He led new initiatives and set new records in each of his jobs. Mike Metke served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica; a Police Officer, School Counselor, and College Teacher in Wisconsin; a Department Chair, Dean and Vice President in Texas; and a College President in the Greater Seattle area before returning to Texas as TJC President.
Mike Metke is also an adventurer leading climbing trips to summit the highest mountains in Japan, South Korea, Costa Rica, Africa and the United States, including almost all of the states west of the Mississippi. He also led trips to South America, China, Korea, Tanzania, Zanzibar, and Europe. While at TJC, Metke organized biking events and biked hundreds of miles across East Texas, Washington State, the Big Bend region, and Arkansas. He also organized and led hikes including 75 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail, a rim-to-rim trek across the Grand Canyon, and four different Inca Trail treks to Machu Picchu in Peru.
“We’ve had incredible adventures with family and friends, both at TJC and in the world around us. Donna and I are looking forward to new adventures as well as more time with our wonderful family and friends,” Metke added.
The TJC Board of Trustees will conduct a nation-wide search for Metke’s successor.