Community College Day at the Texas State Capitol: February 7, 2017
Students from community and technical colleges across the state will converge on the Texas State Capitol on February 7 for Texas Community College Day. In lieu of our usual #TXsuccess Tuesday, we want to promote Community College Day on social media channels across the state!
Whether you’re attending or not, you can help us boost the #TXsuccess message on Community College Day! Here’s how:
Share this handout (.pdf) with students who are attending. We’re going to be giving away Amazon and Starbucks gift cards from $25-$100 to students in attendance who post using #TXsuccess and #txlege. Give them a heads up so they can be sure to participate!
If you can’t attend but your students can, make sure you share/retweet their posts on your official college channels using #TXsuccess and #txlege.
(WACO) – Technical and community colleges in Texas must continue to be proactive in meeting the needs of state and regional business and industry partners, according to workforce and economic development leaders.
“Moving forward, the colleges are going to be much more critical to our efforts,” said Jason Hilts, president and chief executive officer of the Brownsville Economic Development Council. “We don’t have enough skilled labor force. It’s not just a Brownsville or a Rio Grande Valley problem; it’s a national problem. If we are trying to create those sustainable jobs that help create a better community, we need to have a labor force that has more skills associated with it or we are not going to be able to compete for projects.”
The Texas Economic Development Division of the Office of the Governor focuses on attracting and retaining companies in aerospace, energy, information technology, petroleum refining and chemicals, biotechnology and advanced technology and manufacturing.
Some cities, such as Wichita Falls, look toward data centers to drive the economy, while Arlington aims for medical device manufacturers. The Borderplex Alliance (which includes Ciudad Juarez, Mexico; El Paso; and Las Cruces, New Mexico) touts alternative energy and defense.
“Business and industry do not have borders,” said Jaime Farias, associate vice president for workforce and continuing education at El Paso Community College.
Hilts said the jobs of the future are focusing on automation, robotics, logistics, medical and food manufacturing, aerospace and 3-D printing.
In early 2016, the Computer-Aided Drafting program at Texas State Technical College in North Texas began using a 3-D printer to prepare students for engineering, design, manufacturing and design work. TSTC offers an associate degree and level-two certificate in Computer-Aided Drafting.
Some two-year institutions have specialized centers to target job training.
Victoria College’s Emerging Technology Complex opened in June 2015 and has a 72,000-square-foot Conference and Education Center and a 42,000-square-foot Industrial Training Center. Since its opening, the college has hosted the Texas Water Utilities Association, INVISTA and other entities for meetings and hands-on training.
Del Mar College in Corpus Christi opened in 2016 a $2 million Process and Instrumentation Technology Pilot Plant on its West Campus. The facility is used in the college’s mission of educating workers for the refining, petrochemical, and oil and gas industries.
The Texas Workforce Commission offers Skills Development Fund grants for localized workforce training for technical and community colleges, economic development entities and workforce development boards. Skills Development Fund grants have helped more than 4,100 statewide employers with training for 329,000 employees since 1996, according to TWC’s “Skills Development Fund Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2015.”
TSTC received more than $2.2 million in Skills Development Fund grants through five TWC awards in Fiscal Year 2016. This translated into more than 1,000 Texas workers receiving customized training to improve their skills in instrumentation, advanced motor controls, logistics, hydraulics, troubleshooting and other tasks.
“TSTC has been a long-time partners of the TWC in the deployment of Skills Development Fund and Skills for Small Business grants that support customized workforce training for companies across the state,” said Carliss Hyde, vice president for sponsored programs at TSTC. “We are grateful to be part of the process in this successful program and anticipate nothing but continued growth in our involvement in these projects.”
El Paso Community College has used TWC funding in the past to provide training in welding, plastics mold technology, information technology and other fields. Farias said the college can stay flexible and develop training quickly with the funds. He credited the partnership the college has with the TWC, the city of El Paso and the Borderplex Alliance for coming together to help industries.
“It helps to keep retention for these companies and develops a person who has additional skills to increase productivity in that company,” Farias said.
The resources are in place for Texas’ technical and community colleges to continue adapting to an evolving global economy and to train students for tomorrow’s jobs.
Contact: Melinda Eddleman, Associate Director of Media Relations 361.698.1247 or email@example.com
(CORPUS CHRISTI, TX) –– Service men and women with the U.S. Armed Forces, and their families, make sacrifices every day. And every Veterans Day, which was Nov. 11 this year, the nation specifically recognizes veterans for their service to our country.
For Del Mar College (DMC), recognizing student veterans’ service comes with a year-round motto, “Proudly serving those who served with pride.”
“At Del Mar College, we’re committed to valuing every learner equally,” said Tammy Micallef, director of the DMC Veterans Center and retired U.S. Navy Chief with 21 service years of her own. “We believe all military service members, dependents and veterans are vital to our college’s mission of providing access to quality education, workforce preparation and lifelong learning for student and community success.”
In fact, the College has adopted a Military Community Covenant that pledges Del Mar’s support for students who have served and for their families. The initiative links local education and business partners in supporting service members and military installations. After all, the South Texas Coastal Bend Region that DMC serves is home to Naval Air Stations Corpus Christi and Kingsville and the Corpus Christi Army Depot, the nation’s largest helicopter repair facility.
“Military service members and veterans are a significant portion of our enrollment,” added Micallef.
Student veterans, their dependents and active duty members who receive Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits represent annually nearly 15% of the College’s credit enrollment, or about 1,400 students. Currently, statewide figures are unavailable for student veterans enrolled at higher education institutions, but such tracking is in development according to Texas Association of Community College officials.
For student veterans accessing their benefits, Veterans Services at Del Mar College is not just an office. It’s a place where veterans help veterans take the next step in their education.
Susan Quinn, who graduated this summer from DMC with an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science with an emphasis on Computer Information Systems, Network Administration and Information Security, first enrolled at Del Mar in 1976 to study computer technology. Quinn then joined the U.S. Navy in 1977 “because it wasn’t just a job, it was an adventure,” she said.
Quinn spent the next five years working with flight simulators training pilots how to fly jets before separating from the Navy as a Petty Officer Second Class and going to work for Halliburton in Houston. She moved back to Corpus Christi to take care of her parents and re-enrolled at Del Mar in spring 2013.
“Thanks to Del Mar’s Veterans Services and its helpful staff, I accessed resources I needed to be successful in school while still helping my parents,” Quinn said. “I learned about benefits, such as the Hazelwood Act, and secured funds to help me pay for school as well as other funds to assist with paying my bills. Veterans Services staff looked out for me, so without those benefits, I wouldn’t have been able to complete my college degree.”
Since 2010, Del Mar has dedicated two Veteran Services Offices and two Veterans Resource Centers—one on each main campus––and created a full-time “director” position as well as added four full-time, three part-time and multiple work-study employees to support the needs of student veterans.
Micallef noted, “The Veteran Services Offices and Veterans Resource Centers represent the College’s commitment to making student veterans as proud of their educational achievements as DMC is of their service to our country,” adding that Quinn even served as a work-study student while attending Del Mar.
Since 2012, Del Mar’s Veterans Resource Centers have logged 15,000 visits from veterans seeking assistance with registration, benefits processing, tutoring, counseling and student success support. Full-time staff offer computer assistance with VA processing in a relaxed lounge environment much like the setting the USO provides active military stateside and around the world.
Earlier this year, Southern Business and Development magazine recognized DMC as a “Top Texas Community College Delivering Workforce Training.” Former U.S. Marine and student Julio Wilmot’s preparation through Del Mar’s noncredit offerings was highlighted during a recognition celebration.
Wilmot said that he became interested in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Department of Transportation regulations after working in the oilfield as a pump operator and crew leader before the oil industry collapsed. He then worked as a contractual worker for refineries, where safety is very important and strictly observed.
After a long period employed as a “working man,” Wilmot realized that no matter how hard he worked, he would only make the “norm.”
“I don’t like normal, so I decided to start making decisions that lead to progress, and that meant school,” he noted. “I started taking every course I could at Del Mar College that would take me in the direction of becoming a professional.”
Wilmot earned five workforce credentials, including his Class A Commercial Drivers License through DMC’s Transportation Training Services truck driving program and certifications through the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) and OSHA programs offered through the DMC Workforce Development and Corporate Services Division.
Currently, he’s enrolled in the College’s 18-week fast-track Process Technology and Instrumentation Program offered by the division, a counter-part to the two-year degree offered on the credit side of the house.
“Life is full of decisions, and I’m proud that I decided to go to Del Mar College for my training and education,” Wilmot noted. “The courses I’ve taken have molded me to the path I want to be on.”
Recently, Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families named Del Mar College as one of the top three colleges in the nation providing veteran pathways to the regional workforce.
Among other College initiatives that have served DMC student veterans are:
$100,000 Wal-Mart Foundation grant with 170 veterans enrolled in workforce training resulting with 126 participants earning marketable skills.
$175,000 Texas Workforce Commission Veterans and Industry Partnership (VIP) grant to train veterans for jobs in the petrochemical industry with 20 participants completing this preparation in the first six months.
nationally accredited fast track NCCER program providing veterans free training for up to two “stackable” credentials in areas of construction or maintenance trades.
College Credit for Heroes: a collaboration with Central Texas College to translate military experience to equivalent college course credit.
Kognito: training for DMC faculty and staff to understand challenges veterans face when transitioning from military to academic life.
advocacy: the College’s Veteran Center director has served on the Rulemaking Committee that amended the Hazelwood Act and proposed the later adopted formula for conversion of Continuing Education Units to semester hour credit.
mentoring programs using faculty, staff and peer-to-peer pairing, which includes a College-designed lapel pin for faculty and staff veterans that allows student veterans to identify at a glance those employees who have also walked in their boots.
DMC celebrating student veterans with graduate receptions, honor cords and “Top Student Veteran” awards.
These and other initiatives have earned Del Mar College the designation as a “Military Friendly School” for five years by Victory Media and a “Top School” for four years by Military Advanced Education and Transition Guide.
“I believe that ALL Texas community colleges share a common commitment to our veterans,” noted Micallef, who also has served as president of the Texas Association of Collegiate Veterans Officials for the past three years. “I’m convinced that Texas community colleges are the catalyst to achieving 60 by30 Texas [60X30TX] goals set by the state with student veterans contributing significantly to the workforce we’re building.”
Del Mar College salutes and thanks our student veterans and all veterans for their dedication and service to this country this Veterans Day. The College also will continue to “proudly serve those who served with pride” year-round.
Meet Ashlee Estlack, TACCM’s board secretary and Clarendon College’s Chief of Staff.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
I honestly look forward to coming to work each day. I love what I’m doing right now. I get to sit in with the senior staff and advise the president, I am able tell the story of our school and our students and brag about our successes, and I get to be part of something that is bettering the lives of our students and making our communities stronger and more successful. I believe community colleges are the best first step for students seeking training or a degree – and finding ways to spread that message to others is the best part of each day.
What’s the most rewarding project you’ve tackled in the past year?
Clarendon College completed our SACS Accreditation visit last October and received word in June that we were approved for re-accreditation. I had never been involved with a SACS visit or QEP before, but it was an extremely rewarding experience. I enjoyed putting together the marketing materials and activities for the QEP and making sure that the visiting team was taken care of while they were here. Our team worked together and in a very short period of time made sure that we were not only prepared for the visit, but also were approved for re-accreditation. I’ve never been so proud of my coworkers – it took everyone to make the review a success and together we made it happen.
What’s your superpower?
Can multi-tasking be a superpower? Or maybe making something out of nothing? As the Chief of Staff at a small, rural college I wear many, many hats. I serve as the President’s right hand person, handle all of the college’s PR and marketing needs, work with HR and employee benefits, keep up with travel and facility scheduling, and head up most event planning on campus – not to mention “other duties as assigned.” And all of this is on a budget that doesn’t increase from year to year so I have to be creative and make dollars stretch further than they ever have. No two days at work are ever the same, and if I wasn’t busy I’d probably go a little bit crazy. While it is completely chaotic most days, I really wouldn’t change what I do for anything.
What’s something other TACCM members probably don’t know about you?
My family raises show chickens. I have silkie cochins that are named after the cast of Grey’s Anatomy – McDreamy, Meredith, The Chief, etc. We (my kids, the in-laws, and my hubby and I) show the chickens at the Tri-State Fair in Amarillo every year and this year my daughter’s white cochin won best of show – earning her a pretty swanky belt buckle and bragging rights over her brother and two boy cousins.
You hit shuffle on your music collection. What song pops up?
Probably something by Michael Buble – right now I’m enjoy his new song “Nobody but Me” and his version of “The Very Thought of You”. I have pretty eclectic taste in music so you just never know what will pop up – there’s a chance it could be something random from Merle Haggard, Justin Timberlake, or maybe John Mellencamp.
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor, and why?
Again, after reading her book, I’d have to pick Dana Perino. I actually met Tony Snow while I was a student reporter in college, and I was completely mesmerized with his experience as a White House Press Secretary – this is probably where my interest in that position started. After he resigned for health reasons, Dana was named as his replacement. I had the opportunity to hear her speak last year and she spoke on never being afraid to move for the right position, building trust with your team, and that love and family aren’t career killers. She has proven that if you work hard enough you can do anything – she was a girl from a ranch in Wyoming who went on to advise the President of the United States. I admire what she has accomplished, and that she seems to be humble and down to earth after it all.
Last book you read that you couldn’t put down?
Dana Perino’s bio “And the good news is…” I’ve always dreamed of being a press secretary – I enjoy watching “The West Wing” and would love to be CJ Cregg. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Dana’s life pre and post White House, and she has excellent advice for young women starting a career and trying to find their way.
Eleven community colleges from across the state have been chosen to participate in the Texas Pathways Project sponsored by the Texas Success Center and funded by the Greater Texas Foundation. The project is geared toward transforming the way students transition from public education into community colleges on their way to certification or transferring to 4-year institutions leading to meaningful careers.
Research conducted by the Community College Research Center and various innovators from community colleges across the United States recognized low graduation rates among community college students, the high cost of education, and the high number of courses students completed that did not transfer to four-year institutions. Often, students were taking 4-6 years to complete a two-year degree or were dropping out of college. The Pathways serve as a way to provide clear and structured direction at the start of their academic journey at college as they learn about different disciplines and career options, then broaden opportunities as students become better informed.
Academic pathways will provide students a guided path of coursework and contextualized support structures for students within six major career/professional concentrations: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM); Business; Creative Arts; Liberal Arts; Public Service; and Health Professions. The process allows students to explore career options while staying on pace to graduate. For instance, students interested in a STEM-related career but without a specific degree in mind would progress on a multidisciplinary path to an Associate’s Degree in Science. The first two semesters are set for the student to learn about careers and professions available through the pathway, providing opportunities to try different areas while undergoing intrusive advising by academic advisors and mentoring faculty. At the same time, the student would be required to work toward completing all required mathematics classes and be enrolled in STEM-major coursework. Once the student better focuses their interest, they will be advised into STEM metamajors with specific selection and sequencing of courses leading to their preparation in a specific discipline or area of study. All pathway curricula is also aligned with transfer degree options with partner four-year institutions and/or the local industry.
Another goal of Pathways is to build closer ties among high schools and colleges, which can be beneficial to high school students already working on college-level courses through the Dual Credit program. High school freshmen who meet the admission criteria can now begin taking college courses from a transfer block designed for students planning to attend a community college or transfer to a Texas public college or university. Once the student completes 18 college credit hours, the student is then directed into their chosen pathway. If the student continues down the pathway through their senior year, they can receive their high school diploma and an associate degree in the same year.
The Pathways program will give students the path they need to be successful and help them achieve their goals in a timely manner.
Colleges chosen to participate in the Texas Pathways Project are Amarillo College, Austin Community College, Brazosport College, Dallas County Community College District, Grayson College, Houston Community College System, Lone Star College District, McLennan Community College, Midland College, South Texas College, Southwest Texas Junior College, and Temple College. The colleges will participate in biannual institutes designed to assist participants in implementing the structured student pathways. The colleges will be joined by teams from Alamo Community College, El Paso Community College, Paris Junior College, San Jacinto College that were selected to participate in the American Association of Community Colleges’ Pathways Project, a national project designed to institute pathways at scale.
Fabiola Chavez and Kingsley Scott wanted to make sure they were more than ready for their university experiences.
Chavez and Scott had every opportunity to attend major four-year institutions straight out of high school. But the two chose to use their local community colleges to provide them high-quality education while preparing them academically and socially for the challenges they would face at the university level.
Chavez, 21, graduated from Eastfield College in May 2015 and is transferring to the University of Dallas this fall to study biology and continue her pre-medicine track that will lead her to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
Scott, 20, is a 2016 graduate of Victoria College and will attend the University of Texas at Austin this fall. She will study political science at UT with plans of entering the law school at the Austin campus.
Both students said familiarity, proximity and affordability played pivotal roles in their decisions to begin their careers in higher education at the community college level.
“I wanted more personal attention from my professors and more one-to-one learning experiences with faculty,” said Chavez, who graduated from W.T. White High School in Dallas. “I wanted to stay close to home. I wanted a realistic option for college, and I wanted a realistic price.”
“I felt when I first got out of high school, I wasn’t prepared to go off on my own,” said Scott, a graduate of rural Calhoun High School in Port Lavaca. “It seemed like community college would better prepare me and help me grow a little.”
Chavez and Scott are part of a continuing trend as community colleges remain the largest sector of Texas higher education. According to a study by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), there were 700,892 students enrolled in community colleges statewide during the fall of 2015. That made up 47.1 percent of all higher education students in Texas. The number of students at public universities totaled 619,284 or 41.6 percent.
The THECB also reported 70 percent of all college freshmen and sophomores statewide were enrolled in community colleges for the Fall 2015 semester.
Eastfield College graduate Fabiola Chavez poses with the President’s Volunteer Service Award she received from President Obama.
“A lot of people just want to leave home when they get out of high school,” Scott said. “Sometimes that just isn’t the smartest move. You’re not ready for that commitment and the time and effort it takes. Community college is a good in-between step to get you ready.”
Another THECB study revealed 74 percent of all bachelor’s degree graduates in 2015 attended community colleges. Of those graduates, 35 percent accumulated more than 30 credit hours at community colleges.
More students are finding that community colleges offer lower teacher-to-student ratios and effective support systems to prepare them for four-year universities and beyond.
“Instead of being bombarded with the university experience, I wanted to get a dose of college reality at Eastfield,” Chavez said.
“When you’re off on your own in a big city at a big university, you don’t know anyone, you have no real help,” Scott said. “The teachers at Victoria College helped me prove to myself that I could make it through college classes even if it meant going to the tutoring center for extra help.”
According to the THECB and Texas Association of Community Colleges Legislative Budget Board, Texas community colleges rank third in the nation in affordability, behind only California and New Mexico. The average tuition and fees for the Fall 2016 semester for Texas full-time students living in a community college taxing district was $987.
“Affordability was definitely a big reason why I chose Victoria College,” said Scott, who said she will spend approximately $14,000 on boarding alone her first year in Austin. “I’m looking at my bills for this coming semester at UT and I’m thinking, ‘Can I just stay at VC?’’’
It’s hard to believe that the Texas Association of Community College Marketers is now entering its fifth year. Being a fairly young organization, we’ve come a long way in a short amount of time thanks to our hardworking board members and your involvement as TACCM members.
I’m honored to serve as TACCM’s President for the next two years with the opportunity to carry on the great work and solid foundation your volunteer boards have established since 2012. In fact, we’re always looking for volunteers, so I invite you to share your expertise with TACCM both on the regional and state levels.
This July, the TACCM board met to review work accomplished over the past year and to set goals for this next year. Read more about these throughout this newsletter, including:
TACCM’s collaboration with the Texas Association of Community Colleges to implement a statewide communication plan for the #TXsuccess campaign designed to tell our community college success stories and their impact statewide as we move toward the 85th Texas Legislative Session.
Comprehensive conference planning as we head back to Austin for the 2017 conference. Dates and location will be forthcoming later this fall. Be sure to take the survey.
Networking opportunities that your Regional Directors are planning for this next year. Take time to get to know your Regional Director and don’t hesitate to contact them if you have questions.
Your TACCM membership is one of the best opportunities to connect with other marketing, public relations, design, web and social media, and recruitment professionals from community colleges not only in your region but also from across the state. TACCM also provides professional development opportunities, legislative updates and a listserv that serves as a resource when you need advice about particular issues, services or products to enhance efforts at your own community college. You also have access to the Membership Directory. We also host the free Career and Technical Education (CTE) exploration site called TEXASgenuine that serves as a valuable tool for career and college advisors statewide.
Why do I point out these benefits? Because it’s also time for membership renewal! If you haven’t renewed your membership already, take time to do so today. The grace period runs through September 30. And, remember, an institutional membership means EVERYONE at your college is a TACCM member!
I’d like to close this message with a very heartfelt “Thank You” to four individuals who moved off the TACCM board this past year. The association wouldn’t be where it is today without their involvement, including:
Lynn Goswick, now retired and founding TACCM President from Alvin Community College
Shelle Cassell, now retired and founding Membership Director from Grayson College
Samantha Uriegas, TACCM Mentor Director from South Texas College
Jennifer Aries, TACCM Development Consultant and Ex-Officio Board Member from 25th Hour Communications.
Again, I look forward to serving you during this next year. Let’s keep the momentum going and continue to tell the best story Texas has to offer––the community, technical and junior college story! #TXsuccess … we look forward to seeing your stories!
2016-2018 TACCM President
Associate Director of Media Relations, Del Mar College