Most educators would feel that 40 years of service and leadership to Tarrant County College and its students would be more than enough to create an enduring legacy. But then, Judith Carrier isn’t most people.
That’s why, upon her retirement in 2011 as founding president of Tarrant County Junior College’s (TCC’s original name) Southeast Campus, she personified her dedication to TCC by creating an endowed scholarship, the Dr. Judith J. Carrier Scholarship, through the Tarrant County College Foundation. The Fall 2021 semester marks the 10th anniversary of that scholarship.
True to form, she downplays her achievements and scholarship as being anything more than a natural outgrowth of her belief in service and responsibility. “It’s important to provide help to deserving students,” she said. “I hear about what they’re going through, especially now in this pandemic, and it’s heartbreaking. They are proud students who want to help themselves and their families. So those of us who can help have a responsibility to do what we can to help the students and help the school fulfill its service mission.”
Her scholarship includes a condition that is dear to Carrier’s heart—service—by requiring that the recipient volunteer a minimum of eight hours with a nonprofit group during each semester. She also asked that preference be given to students who have fulfilled a leadership role in their community, school or place of work.
Carrier’s TCC career included service as an administrator, counselor and educator. Ultimately in 1995, she became TCC’s first female campus president.
“We always had intelligent, capable women on faculty and staff. But it just never seemed to occur to some that we may have had more to offer,” Carrier said. “But by then, times were changing. And I felt a special responsibility to make the campus successful. It was a wonderful journey, and a lot of work and very intense because everything was so new. But it was wonderful.”
The campus opened in 1996 with 3,993 students and 44 full-time faculty. Despite being designed to serve up to 5,000 students, the campus maxed out within four years and its student body ranked as the second largest in TCC.
Carrier’s presidency was the logical step along her TCC career, which began in 1971 as a student counselor and associate professor of psychology on the Northeast Campus. When the Northwest Campus opened in 1975, Carrier was appointed dean of student development services, which administered all student services except financial aid.
The move to the Southeast Campus in 1996 allowed Carrier to take her second passion—community service—to a new level. During her 16-year tenure, Carrier built the College’s presence and impact in South Tarrant County, the City of Arlington and the City of Fort Worth.
“I have always been involved in organizations and business as well as service,” she said. “It was a great way to get the College’s name out there and let people know we’re there serving their students and communities.” In addition to serving as the first female president of both the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of Fort Worth, she also held leadership positions in a wide variety of social service organizations and special event venues, including being a prominent spokesperson on the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee.
Despite all her community service, Carrier said, some of her most satisfying moments involved informally interacting with students on campus. “I always thought it was important to be visible on campus, so I specifically made time to walk around and just talk to people. One time, I was picking up some trash and paper on campus and I started talking to a student. She introduced herself and said, ‘What do you do?’ I said I was the president and she was startled.”
Though Carrier retired in 2011, she maintains a lasting presence on the Southeast Campus. She is credited with bringing the $27 million, 115,000-square-foot Science & Academic Building to campus before retiring. And as a fitting tribute to her life-long service, TCC renamed the campus’ library in 2014 as the Judith J. Carrier Library.
“It isn’t about me. It’s about all of us doing something that helps. The opportunity to give is just an opportunity to serve. I feel lucky that we have these wonderful ways to do that and these wonderful people who are there to make sure that our students’ needs are met,” Carrier added.
To learn how to support TCC students through a Foundation scholarship, please visit TCC Foundation.