Leading the Charge: State Sen. Kevin Eltife recognized for crucial role in bringing bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene to TJC

Feb 29, 2016 by

Last summer, Tyler Junior College was approved by the Texas Legislature to begin offering a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene, beginning in Fall 2016.

State Sen. Kevin P. Eltife was instrumental in making that long-held dream a reality.

During their July meeting, the TJC Board of Trustees honored Eltife not only for his years of service in the legislature but particularly for his tireless support of higher education.

Approximately 200 people attended the event honoring Eltife.

Eltife, R-Tyler, was elected to the Texas Senate in early 2004 and is not seeking re-election in 2016.

“He has been a great service leader for the community and a man of principle,” State Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, said.

In addition to the honorary degree, a TJC dental clinic operatory - a room for dental procedures - was named in his honor.

In addition to the honorary degree, a TJC dental clinic operatory – a room for dental procedures – was named in his honor.

State Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, who has served in Austin with Eltife the last two legislative sessions, quipped that Eltife is the worst politician in the history of Texas, because he refuses to do what is politically expedient and to tell people what they want to hear.

Eltife will tell them what they need to hear, and he has a habit of actually doing what he says he is going to do, Clardy said. He praised Eltife’s ability to work with others, his desire to find solutions, his integrity and service.

State Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, read aloud a resolution adopted by the TJC trustees that stated Eltife’s key support was instrumental in passage of the dental hygiene bill, the only measure of its type to clear the senate where other baccalaureate bills for two-year colleges failed.

The board and TJC President Mike Metke presented Eltife with an honorary associate’s degree in dental hygiene and named an operatory — a room for dental hygiene procedures — in his honor.

“Eltife’s leadership and integrity as a public servant are unsurpassed and are evident from his many accolades,” the TJC resolution read.

Some of Eltife’s awards include the Association of Texas Professional Educators “Freedom to Teach” award, the “Champion for Free Enterprise” award from Texas Association of Business, and “Legislator of the Year” award from Texas Municipal League.

Carrie Hobbs, TJC dental studies department chair, presents a pin to Eltife during the event.

Carrie Hobbs, TJC dental studies department chair, presents a pin to Eltife during the event.

In his proclamation of “Senator Kevin Eltife Day,” Tyler Mayor Martin Heines noted Eltife served the maximum of three, two-year terms as city council member and mayor; and during his tenure, Eltife helped the city eliminate its general obligation debt, attain a AAA bond rating and reduce the property tax rate.

After serving on the city council, Eltife continued his public service as a state senator representing District 1.

Responding to the many complimentary remarks from area dignitaries, including many college presidents from his district, Eltife said his mother was the driving force in his life that made him the success he
is today.

“I am embarrassed that you are here today to thank me for doing a job that has enriched my life beyond words,” he said.

“I owe all of you a thank-you for allowing me to serve in public office.”


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Features, Winter 2016

About the author

Elise Mullinix is Tyler Junior College's Editorial Manager. She can be reached at 903-510-2370 or at emul2@tjc.edu.