TJC’s 90th Anniversary gala raises $445,000 for new scholarship program

Nov 07, 2017 by

Sharah Johnson, Marilyn Glass Abegg and Barbara Bass

In honor of its 90th anniversary, Tyler Junior College hosted the most ambitious fundraising event in its history – raising more than $445,000 for the new TJC Promise.

The TJC Promise is a bold, new initiative that will provide an earned scholarship to eligible high school students within the College’s tax district, including Chapel Hill, Grand Saline, Lindale, Tyler, Van and Winona.

Beginning in 2020, qualifying graduates can receive up to two years of tuition and fees at TJC.

More than 250 College supporters attended the gala, held May 5 at Willow Brook Country Club, including TJC board of trustees members, civic leaders and superintendents of six East Texas
school districts.

The TJC Apache Belles and TJC Jazz Band entertained guests during the event. The Apache Band and Apache Belles celebrate their 70th anniversary this year.

Before dinner, guests were invited to a 1926-themed reception celebrating the founding year of TJC. Guests were then seated in various dining rooms within the club and entertained during the dinner hour by TJC performing groups, including a classical saxophone quartet, a classical guitar ensemble, and a soprano with pianist. Following dinner, guests went to the main ballroom for desserts, coffee, a program, fireworks and dancing.

“The outpouring of support for the 90th celebration and the new TJC Promise was amazing,” said Donna Metke, wife of TJC President Dr. Mike Metke, who served as chair of the celebration.
“Tyler is such a giving community. The fact that we far surpassed our $250,000 fundraising goal shows we care about each other and the promise for our youth to have access to further
their education.”

Harold Beaird

In 2014, the Rusk TJC Citizens Promise was created in partnership with Citizens 1st Bank, the James I. Perkins Family Foundation and TJC, offering TJC scholarships to qualifying Rusk High School seniors.

In fall 2016, 1,226 high school freshmen in the TJC tax district signed the pledge for the TJC Promise. They will be the inaugural class of TJC Promise Scholars in 2020.

Students earn the TJC Promise scholarship by meeting certain standards during their high school

years based on academic achievement, persistence and community service. The scholarship standards promote positive behaviors to ensure that students are on the path to success in high school, college and beyond.

“I believe this is the most important educational initiative undertaken in East Texas,” notes Dr. Metke. “It is a true game changer.”

Backed with an extraordinary $5 million commitment from an anonymous lead donor, the College’s goal is to raise $20 million in private gifts to underwrite a dedicated endowment to support the TJC Promise.

The gala event was generously underwritten by Southside Bank, enabling all monies raised to go directly to the Promise scholarship program.

“This is a chance for many students to have an opportunity for higher education,” says Southside Bank President Lee Gibson, “and the benefits to the community just multiply as
a result.

“It encourages future generations
to gravitate toward higher education after high school. An educated workforce brings new businesses to town. It’s a boost to our tax base. The TJC Promise is a win-win-win for the communities involved. ”

Tisa Hibbs, Billy Hibbs Jr., and Jeannie Hibbs

For information on giving opportunities for the TJC Promise, please visit



Features, Summer 2017

About the author

Tracy Torma is a staff writer for The Apache.