Paris Junior College
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PJC announces 2022 Distinguished Alumni
Paris Junior College will celebrate its 98th Homecoming Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 3-5, and a major weekend highlight is the Distinguished Alumni Award Luncheon planned for Saturday, Nov. 5.
The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed on alumni and friends by the College, and Paris native Dr. J. Craig Stephens and PJC alumnus Dr. Charles M. Cook will be recognized.
“This year PJC will recognize and celebrate two men who have had remarkable careers and are very deserving to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award,” said Dr. Pam Anglin, PJC President.
Stephens was born April 18, 1936 in Paris to the late Dr. John A. Stephens and Charlotte Crook Stephens. After attending schools in Paris, he graduated from Texas A & M University. He studied medicine at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, interned at Marion County General Hospital in Indianapolis, Ind., and did his radiology residency at Baylor Hospital in Dallas.
While heading the Department of Radiology at McCuistion Regional Medical Center in Paris for 30 years, Stephens also served as Radiology Instructor at PJC. He retired from medicine in 1997 and became a semi-professional photographer. Growing to love and explore the West, he authored the book, “When Too Old to Hunt, Try Drive by Shooting.” Stephens’ favorite retirement activity is participating in the Plaza Art Gallery. One of his prized possessions is the Athletic Hall of Fame certificate awarded to his uncle, George Stephens, who was a member of the PJC football team when he passed away.
A member of Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church in Paris, Stephens taught religious education for over 35 years. He was a past president of several organizations including the Lamar Delta Medical Society, Lamar County Chamber of Commerce, Lamar County A&M Club, the Artist Guild of Lamar County, and McCuistion Hospital Medical Staff. He was on the Texas A&M Lamar Delta Scholarship Board and was an Eagle Scout. During the Vietnam War, he served as a medical officer in the U.S. Air Force based in Omaha, Neb.
Stephens spends his summers in Estes Park, Colorado, where he continues to pursue hiking and photography. Travel has slowed since losing the love of his life, Jean, in February, 2021, but his life now revolves around friends and family in Paris and in Colorado. The continued success of all things in Paris are important to him and much of that revolves around the long-term success of Paris Junior College, truly a historic treasure to him.
Much like Stephens, Cook grew up less than two blocks from Paris Junior College, a campus where he says he learned to ride his bike, roller skate, play tennis and basketball, and ultimately started his college career. PJC prepared him for the University of Texas where he graduated with highest honors and membership in Phi Beta Kappa in 1972.
After UT, Cook went to the University of Houston for a teaching fellowship in History. He received his master’s degree and teaching certificate from UH and began teaching economics and government for Houston Independent School District in 1975. In 1978, he was hired to teach History at Houston Community College and returned to UH to get his doctorate in Administration of Higher Education.
From 1994 to 1999, Cook worked at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board as Director of Instruction for the Community and Technical Colleges Division. There he was able to visit and work with two-year colleges across the state, including PJC.
In 1999, he returned to Houston Community College (HCC) as the Vice Chancellor for Instruction, a post he held until 2014. Cook then served as the Provost/Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Austin Community College until his retirement from higher education in 2021. He has served many years helping to make Texas community colleges thrive.
PJC Homecoming activities kick off with the parade on Thursday, Nov. 3. It leaves campus at 4 p.m., circles the downtown Paris square, then returns and is followed by pep rally in the Hunt Center.
On Friday evening, Nov. 4, the President’s Reception will be held in the McLemore Student Center Ballroom from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. All alumni, supporters and retired faculty and staff of the college are invited to take attend.
Saturday, the Distinguished Alumni Award Luncheon will be held at the Love Civic Center beginning at 11:30 a.m. to honor the two special friends of the college. Tickets for the luncheon are $25. Basketball games at the Hunt Center, 4:00 p.m. for the women and 6 p.m. for the men, as well as the crowning of the Homecoming King and Queen, cap the weekend. For tickets or more details about homecoming festivities, contact PJC Institutional Advancement/Alumni Affairs Director Baleigh McCoin, Director at (903) 782-0276 or [email protected].
Dr. J. Craig Stephens, longtime PJC friend and supporter, is shown with the Hall of Honor certificate awarded his uncle, George Stephens. He will be honored on Saturday, Nov. 5.
Dr. Charles M. Cook, class of 1969, will receive his award at the PJC Distinguished Alumni Luncheon on Saturday, Nov. 5.
Paris Junior College — located in Paris, Texas, about 100 miles northeast of Dallas — has been a part of the Lamar County community since 1924.
Paris Junior College offers Associate in Arts, Associate in Science and Associate in Applied Science degrees, as well as Certificates of Proficiency in technical/workforce fields. The college has expanded its academic curriculum through the years to encourage associate degree and university transfer candidates. Since establishing its first vocational program — jewelry and watchmaking in 1942 — the college has been aggressive in adding technical/workforce programs that will benefit students entering the workforce.
The campus of 54 tree-shaded acres includes 20 major buildings and residence halls and provides students a unique and pleasant environment for learning.
Paris Junior College also operates centers in Sulphur Springs, Texas, and in Greenville, Texas.
To be the educational provider of choice for the region.
Paris Junior College is a comprehensive community college serving the region’s educational and training needs while strengthening the economic, social and cultural life of our diverse community.