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Longest serving TAMUCT professor shares his thoughts as the university celebrates 15 year anniversary

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Posted at 7:22 PM, Apr 29, 2024

KILEEN, TexaS — In 2009, what was then Tarleton State University Central Texas, became Texas A&M Central Texas and opened its doors to the community.

It was a new adventure for Dr. Jerry Jones who’s been teaching here for decades.

”I’m the longest serving employee of the university,” Dr. Jones said.

“I started here in 1996 and it was a private school at the time, University of Central Texas.”

He stayed on as the institution went from private to state and has been building the history, arts and science programs under the A&M banner — cementing the history professor into the history of the school.

”Almost nowhere else could you go and actually build a program,” Dr. Jones said.

“If you’re a faculty member and you go to a more established university, you fit into an existing program.”

With the folks graduating this semester A&M Central Texas has awarded close to 11,000 bachelor's and master's degrees in everything from business and cybersecurity to social work and nursing,

University officials told 25 News that four new programs are in development pending approval.

”It’s really filled a vacuum in this community for having a state supported university,” Dr. Jones said.

Since Dr. Jones has been here from the beginning, he has seen the positive impact university has had in the community.

He shared a story with 25 News about why one of his history students chose Texas A&M Central Texas.

”She had a fantastic history teacher in middle school who was one of our graduates, who got his teacher certification from us,” Dr. Jones said.

"That’s how what we do every day can have ripple effects.”

Texas A&M Central Texas is providing a pathway to higher education to Central Texans that would otherwise miss out because they can’t afford a private institution.

Some graduates stay local after they get their degree to take what they’ve learned and put it back into the community through teaching or finding good paying jobs that allow them to contribute more to the local economy.