Talks of a new urban initiative in the works during College Council meeting.
By Wally Perez
When it comes to graduation, this college is leaps and bounds ahead of many community colleges, President Robert Vela said during the College Council meeting Tuesday.
He said this college is close to passing every state college in Texas.
“We’re seeing almost a 60 percent increase in graduation rates over the past two years,” Vela said. “We’ve gone from 2,600 graduates to almost 4,000.”
The “Be SAC Proud” campaign has had a slight change in the steps taken to ensure students meet graduation requirements.
Step 1, students meet with an adviser to ensure they meet requirements and complete the graduation packet, which has a deadline of March 11.
Step 2, students apply for graduation on ACES by March 20. This used to be the first step.
Steps 3 and 4 are picking up a cap and gown and attending commencement.
“We want to ensure that every student can graduate, that they have a fair shot at the workforce or the ability to transfer to a senior institution,” Vela said.
Dr. Kristine Clark, chief of the integrated planning and performance excellence division, explained the proposed operational strategic planning and assessment cycle.
“The new cycle includes the same ingredients, but a change in the pacing is what we’re proposing,” Clark said.
Vela closed the meeting with a proposed initiative regarding urban renewal and urban revitalization. “We’ve become a true urban institution, and there is a lot of development around us in the downtown area,” Vela said.
“We often talk about science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) but what does that mean?” Vela said. “How can we demonstrate to our community what it means?”
He said a phenomenal college in New York, Guttman Community College, has done transformative work around Manhattan based on urban renewal and revitalization.
“It’s time for us to do and be the best at something, we’re going to find out how to tie our STEAM programs around this effort to show that we can be the best,” Vela said. “We need to lead the city in planning, renovations and the arts.”
A team visited Guttman to find out more about its academic programs to make sure the skills are applicable to this city, he said.
Richard Farias, interim vice president of student success; Lisa Zottarelli, chair of history, economics, anthropology and political science, and others went to get specific expertise on the programs.
“It’s a just a possibility right now, but we are positioned beautifully like no other college to do this in this city,” Vela said.