A heart for students

Associate dean retires after 41 years at college
September 13th, 2017

Dr. Jack Long, associate dean for student affairsA lot happens in four decades. For Dr. Jack Long ’76, it has meant spending his entire career at Texas A&M College of Dentistry.

The 41-year span since earning his dental degree took him from teaching preclinical and clinical fixed prosthodontics to serving on the recruitment committee to directing the admissions and academic records office for 13 years. Since 2005, he has served as the associate dean for student affairs.

Effective this month, Long is settling into his newest status: retiree. Not surprisingly, he planned his departure date after overseeing graduation activities in May and welcoming the 2017 entering classes in August. That dedication and preparation epitomizes Long’s nature, colleagues say.

“Jack is like the Energizer bunny; He always seemed to have energy to spare for the thousands of difficult tasks in student affairs,” says Moira Allen, who retired in 2016 after serving with Long as director of student affairs. “People become teachers and work in education to make a difference to the students and teach them that they can accomplish their goals. As a teacher and administrator, Jack was committed to promoting excellence in dental education.”

Long’s heart for students has underscored every aspect of his involvement. Whether instructing future dentists, recruiting potential students, working with the admissions committee or managing myriad administrative details as associate dean, helping students achieve their career goals has been central to his activities. Each spring when the time came to celebrate graduates at commencement, Long was right there, announcing each new dentist as they crossed the stage — with nearly perfect pronunciation, to boot.

To those who only saw this loyal administrator in his professional roles, his approachable demeanor was obvious, but his sense of humor might not have been as readily apparent. Longtime friend and former co-worker Lanelle Watkins says his storytelling can be something to remember.

“He is a fan of comedy and loves to tell jokes,” Watkins says. “Sometimes when trying to relate a particularly funny tale he will have a hard time completing it because he is laughing so hard. Watching him try to finish the tale is usually more entertaining than the tale itself.”

A proud University of Texas graduate, Long congenially made his professional home among the Aggies after Baylor College of Dentistry merged with the Texas A&M University System in 1996. Somehow this was possible, even for the former UT cheerleader who led yells for the Longhorns through a championship football era.

Long will definitely make the most of his retirement. Creating new memories with family ranks high on his list, as he plans to spend more time with his wife, Karen, their two daughters and two grandchildren who live in Dallas.

— Carolyn Cox