District convocation draws faculty, staff to McAllister to begin new school year.
By Zachary-Taylor Wright
The chancellor detailed plans for Alamo Confidence, and the board chair listed the improvements the Alamo Colleges have made in the past year at the 2017 district convocation Aug. 21 in the auditorium of McAllister Fine Arts Center.
Chancellor Bruce Leslie said Alamo Confidence is a program targeted at building self-confidence in students and “employer confidence in our graduates,” according to Leslie’s presentation.
Leslie said the state suggests students declare their major or intention at 45 credit hours, but the district board of trustees decided students should declare this information at 15 credit hours. Leslie said he now believes students should make those decisions before enrolling in the district.
Leslie said the district needs to reaffirm students’ declarations from high school prior to their enrollment.
Leslie said House Bill 5, passed in 2013 according to www.tea.texas.gov, created endorsements at public schools so students can declare a career choice by ninth grade.
Leslie said a mission of Alamo Confidence is to improve public perception of higher education degrees, saying public perception has declined because people think a “scattering of online courses” have the same value as a degree.
Leslie said the district does not want to tell students the pathway to follow but wants to educate students on their options. Leslie said the community opposes the district heavily influencing students’ pathways.
Leslie said the district needs closer ties to employers to inform students of opportunities in their industries.
“One of the things I continue to hear from employers is: ‘I don’t care how many you graduate. That’s not important to me. What I care about is are you graduating enough students to meet my needs. If you’re producing 30 robotic repair technicians and I need 400 in this community, you’re not doing your job.”
Leslie said this means the district needs to get students information that will excite them about the jobs with workforce needs.
A key component to Alamo Confidence is working with universities and employers to ensure Alamo College graduates or students are placed “at the front of the line” when seeking transfer or employment.
Leslie said he and Dr. Jo-Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor of academic success, spoke with a representative from Texas A&M University-San Antonio who said Alamo Colleges transfer students’ grade-point averages increase upon transfer. Leslie said the representative said this means Alamo Colleges students are more challenged in this district than at the university.
Leslie said the district still has students taking 90 credit hours for a degree that requires 60 credit hours and said the colleges are working to prevent excess hours.
He invited faculty to offer input on the implementation of Alamo Confidence.
Board Chair Yvonne Katz, District 7 trustee, listed events that occurred in the district since the 2016 district convocation, including the creation of the Executive Faculty Council, the approval by voters of the Capital Improvement Plan, the passing of Senate Bill 2118, the opening of the Eastside Education and Training Center, the signing of a transfer alignment pact with several universities and the opening of two early college high schools in the Edgewood Independent School District.
SB 2118, passed during the regular legislative session this year, allows community colleges in Texas to offer up to three bachelor’s degree programs.
Katz said the voters’ passing of the Capital Improvement Plan bond issue reflects how much the voters trust the district.
Katz also announced Northeast Lakeview College’s ability to offer federal financial aid and the $3.1 million of free classes provided to about 14,000 students from the summer momentum plan.