The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

First chancellor leaves his mark on district

By Rodrigo Valverde/reporter

Projecting his optimistic attitude wherever he was as well as his strong leadership skills, becoming the first chancellor of TCC was one of the many highlights of an outstanding legacy for Joe B. Rushing.

Rushing grew up in Comanche, Texas, but he and his mother moved to the small town of Blanket with his grandparents after his father died when Rushing was 6 years old.

Joe B. Rushing adjusts his cap as he prepares for one of several graduations he presided over.
Joe B. Rushing adjusts his cap as he prepares for one of several graduations he presided over.

While attending Howard Payne University and with the world at the brink of war, Rushing enlisted in the Army. He served his country for four years and another 21 years in the reserves.

After his time in the military, Rushing returned to Howard Payne and married in 1946. He later got his master’s degree at what is now Texas A&M-Commerce and then his doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin.

In 1960, Rushing became the founding president of Broward College in Florida and stayed there until 1965 when he got a call from the TCC board telling him that voters had just approved the formation of a new college. He was invited to meet with them so they could offer him the position of president of the new college.

Rushing had no intention of moving back to Texas but asked for a few days to think about it. He accepted the job two days later, resigning from Broward.

Former TCC administrator Don Newbury and colleague to Rushing for 14 years said Rushing was eager to return.

“He wanted to come back to Texas, I’m sure, because he loved starting something new the way he did so in Florida starting a new campus, which has been an outstanding success over the years,” Newbury said. “But it was also a chance to come back to Texas near his roots.”

Rushing wasted no time making plans for how to fulfill what the college should become. Newbury said Rushing was very conservative in terms of keeping tuition as low as possible, and the administration didn’t want anyone turned away because of lack of funds.

“One of his dreams was to enroll students of every color, every class and everyone who could profit from education,” Newbury said.

A fond memory Newbury has was from the first year the college was open when administrators thought they were still a year away from having a graduation ceremony with only new college students having enrolled.

Joe B. Rushing
Joe B. Rushing

“A student came in with 30 credit hours from another college and filed for graduation, and Rushing said, ‘Let’s have one,’” Newbury said. “The faculty got robes. The student got a robe. Dr. Rushing made some remarks, the student came marching in to ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ on the sound system, he got his diploma and we sat down and had a sandwich and a Dr Pepper. That was the first graduation ever held at TCC.”

When trying to determine his greatest accomplishment for the college, Rushing told The Collegian in 2006, “From a personal perspective, setting the course of action, understanding what the college could be, setting up the organization, surrounding myself with smart people and letting them do their jobs would make the list.”

Newbury describes Rushing as the kind of man who garnered respect wherever he went, firm when he had to be but always good for a story, a laugh, a smile and truly an open door policy.

“The phrase I remember the most that he would say so very often, particularly when a thorny issue would come up is, ‘Well, I’m an incurable optimist. I think we could get past this,’” Newbury said.

After 24 years at TCC, Rushing retired and currently lives in Lampasas near his ranch. At 94, he still takes classes at a nearby campus whenever he can because of his love of learning.

“He was serious about studying and has really continued to be a great student even into his 90s,” Newbury said. “He loves people and is as well-rounded as anyone I’ve ever known.”

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