ACC Board of Trustees discuss Pinnacle and Dr. Rhodes' contract at November 4 meeting

ACC Board of Trustees accept a check for $1.34 million from the ACC Foundation for 2019-2020 student scholarships

The ACC Board of Trustees met for its regular meeting on Monday, November 4, to hear college updates, vote on contracts, and discuss next steps for the Pinnacle property.

The meeting started with the news that Trustee Stephanie Gharakhanian gave birth to her daughter and is at home recovering.

The announcement was followed by a check presentation for $1.34 million for 2019-20 scholarships by ACC Foundation Chair James Koerner.

Then, Pat Recek, Health Sciences dean, introduced Pat Dorsey, Austin American-Statesman publisher, who presented ACC with the Best of the Best nursing school award for the 2nd year in a row. Dorsey says that more than 200,000 votes were cast and eight nursing schools were nominated.

"Spring registration is off to a strong start, with enrollments up more than 10 percent as of this time last year," says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC President/CEO, in his remarks. Dr. Rhodes recognized that enrollment gains will be hard to maintain. He says the college is working to ensure students are prepared to pay by the first payment deadline of January 6, 2020, and they have access to payment plans, financial aid, and scholarships.

He also announced that the second annual Boots and Bats Gala on November 2, 2019, had more than 500 attendees and 100 volunteers and raised approximately $300,000 for student scholarships. He thanked everyone who played a role in the event's success.

Dr. Rhodes provided a short update on the hiring of two important positions, the Truth Racial Healing and Transformation Campus Center director and the Chief Equity Diversity Inclusion Officer. He said they expect to introduce them in December or January.

He congratulated the Child Lab School, who hosted a site visit by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. They had no recommendations for the program as it seeks to renew its national accreditation.

Dr. Rhodes announced ACC will be partnering with the Seedling Foundation on "ACC Champions for Seedling." It will match ACC employees with students who have incarcerated parents and he encourages employees to sign up.

He concluded by encouraging everyone to attend ACC Fest happening Saturday, November 9.

The board went into executive session near the beginning of the meeting to discuss the potential sale of the Pinnacle Campus (agenda item 9827). Once it reconvened, trustees voted unanimously to reject all bids for the parcel.

At the end of the meeting, trustees heard about the next steps for the Pinnacle Campus in a presentation by Dr. Charles Cook, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, and Brette Lea, vice president of Communications and Marketing (agenda item 9826).

Cook says that they are working to align Pinnacle with the updated academic master plan in progress, which was initially created in 2013.

"Now, it's time to update that plan, and as we look at the facilities, what should the college look like in the future? Certainly with changing technology, changing demographic trends, changing market needs, it really is time to step back and consider," says Cook. The college has hired a labor market economist to look at regional workforce needs and partnerships and will report to the board in February 2020.

Lea followed up with the community communications and engagement plan for the districtwide campus master planning process. She says the college is working to engage with the community and provide multiple opportunities for community feedback.

She announced the dates for a couple of community conversations taking place at Oak Hill United Methodist Church (address) in southwest Austin, which will include topics such as the Pinnacle Campus, districtwide college updates, and the overall campus master planning process.

Finance and Administration vice president Neil Vickers presented the fall semester financial report to the board, saying that we are off to a good start. The college is at around $8 million in net revenue, which is consistent with the last few years; enrollments for credit hours are up about 0.7 percent, which are close to projections; and there is a small variance of .04 percent in expenses, which he attributes to vacancies.

Upon returning from executive session for agenda item 9825 regarding an amendment to the college president's employment agreement, the board voted to extend Dr. Rhodes' contract another year with a three-percent raise the board approved for all college employees and a two-percent merit and market adjustment

"The BOT is proud of the work Dr. Rhodes has done for the college over the years that he's been here. He's led us with integrity, leadership, he's put in administrative teams and employees that have taken us to the next level," says Gigi Bryant, chair of the board.

With this extension, Dr. Rhodes becomes the longest-serving ACC president.

"It's the people out there who make it work. I couldn't be more proud of the team that we have. I've told the trustees several times I've never been blessed with such a great team that makes things happen who truly are passionate about student success and everyone out there makes every day a job for me to be here so I want to say thanks to our entire team," says Dr. Rhodes.

Watch a full recording of the meeting here.