Betty Hagins: 45 years is not long when you spend it with family

September 12th, 2017

Betty HaginsWhen you spend the majority of your waking hours with your co-workers, you become family. At least that’s how Betty Hagins, executive assistant in the Office of Finance at Texas A&M College of Dentistry, sees it. Considering she has spent approximately 93,600 hours with her colleagues, she may be right. 

“Everyone is family to me,” she says. “We’ve shared so much together — marriages and births.”

Hagins has maintained a lot of those relationships over the years even after people have left the college, and she has many fond memories of her time with her colleagues, but one stands out among the others.

“When my first grandchild was born, Dorothy Duff — who retired from the dental school — organized a ‘grandma shower’ for me,” she says. “Everyone bought gifts for the baby. It was really, really special.”

Hagins’ career with the college began Sept. 5, 1972.

After taking a five-year sabbatical from work to stay home with her young sons, Hagins was ready to re-enter the workforce. A friend who had started working in the health sciences library, which is adjacent to the college, mentioned that the dental school was hiring.

“I was attracted to the job because I liked the idea of working with the students,” she says.

During her time at the dental school, Hagins has seen more than just college name changes. She’s seen shifts in leadership, office spaces and even processes.

“When I started, the department was on the first floor where the periodontics department now sits,” Hagins says. Back then, it was just called the “business office,” and all accounting was done by hand using 3-ply carbonless paper.

At the time, she was assistant to John Hodges and was responsible for everything from cashing checks and managing mail to typing her supervisor’s correspondence and processing student tuition. While the latter was assumed by the Texas A&M Health Science Center in 2009, she continued to perform tasks to be of service to students.

“I love my work,” Hagins says. “I love working with the students. My hope was to always make it a positive experience.”

According to this alumnus, it seems she succeeded.

“What a wonderful lady,” Dr. Phillip Campbell, former department head of orthodontics, wrote in a recent email. “Betty accepted my tuition payments when I was a first-year resident in orthodontics in 1972. Talk about loyalty: Betty is the epitome of loyalty to our wonderful dental school!”

As time went on, change came with each new era, and Hagins was right there, ready to embrace it.

“Betty is the consummate professional,” says Juanna Moore, associate dean of finance. “Every time one of our processes or programs changed, and there were many, she rolled up her sleeves and learned the system.

“During her 45 years of service, she handled or assisted with just about anything and everything that happened in the business office, and carried herself with grace and dignity. She arrived every morning with a smile on her face and her head held high. I will miss her both professionally and personally, as over time she became a very good friend.”

Hagins loved her work so much that she didn’t retire earlier, not even when her husband retired in 1992.

“Every year I kept pushing my retirement back,” she says.

Although her time at the dental school is special, she does wish she would have traveled more with her husband, Lloyd, who passed away in 2015. Post-retirement, she plans to catch up on lost time with regard to travel. Between trips, activities with her grandchildren and church will fill her days.

While a busy schedule is on the horizon, Hagins says she will miss her dental school family.

“I’ll miss the camaraderie and the people,” she says. “I love work. I’ve worked all my life, but it’s time to do something else with this next chapter in my life. I think the time is right.”

— Ladawn Brock