TJC to award college's first bachelor’s degrees at December commencement

TJC to award college's first bachelor’s degrees at December commencement

From Tyler Junior College.

For the first time in its history, Tyler Junior College will award bachelor's degrees during fall commencement ceremonies set Friday, Dec. 8.

In the 10 a.m. ceremony, three graduates will cross the stage and receive TJC's first Bachelor of Science degrees in dental hygiene: Amanda Camp of Lufkin, Shannon Kassaw of Palestine, and Michelle Trammell of Tyler.

TJC is the first and only community or junior college in Texas authorized to offer a Bachelor of Science degree.

In early 2015, TJC leaders put a plan in motion to pursue legislative approval for the degree. Legislative action was granted in late 2015, after then-State Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, State Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, and Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, sponsored companion bills in the Texas Legislature to create the program.

Numerous resolutions from throughout East Texas supported this visionary direction.  

Following the legislative designation, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board subsequently approved the program; and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools/Commission on Colleges, accredited the College as a Level II, baccalaureate-granting institution. TJC began offering this degree in the fall 2016 semester.

During the 85th Texas Legislative session in 2017, State Sen. Bryan Hughes and Reps. Clardy and Schaefer expanded the legislative approval to have TJC designated as one of the state's four Legacy colleges, regarding community colleges awarding baccalaureate degrees. In addition to TJC, Legacy colleges are: Brazosport College, Midland College and South Texas College.

Dr. Juan E. Mejia, TJC provost and vice president for academic and student affairs, who previously served as vice president for academic affairs at South Texas College, another one of the four legacy colleges, said, "Our entire region is to be commended for its commitment to higher education and for coming together to make this historic day possible."