Trustees Unanimously Approve 1-Year Extension to President’s Contract

Dr. Richard Rhodes becomes the longest-serving president/CEO at the college

Dr. Richard Rhodes, longest-serving ACC presidentThe Austin Community College District (ACC) Board of Trustees unanimously approved a one-year extension to President Dr. Richard Rhodes' contract during its regular meeting Monday, November 4. Dr. Rhodes is now the college's longest-serving president to date.

"The Austin Community College Board of Trustees recognizes Dr. Rhodes' leadership as among the best in the nation among the community college community. The goal of the college continues to be student-focused. Under Dr. Rhodes' leadership, ACC has made extraordinary gains to improve student success and close equity gaps," says Gigi Edwards Bryant, Board of Trustees chair.

Trustees also approved a raise to Dr. Rhodes' contract. Three percent was awarded to match the recent collegewide raise provided to all ACC employees. An additional two-percent increase was awarded as a result of a recent market study.

Dr. Rhodes was appointed President/CEO of ACC in September 2011 with an intentional focus to close equity gaps and increase student success. Since he began, Hispanic student enrollment has been steadily increasing, reaching 37 percent of the total student population in fall 2018. Completion and transfer rates also grew. The number of awards is up more than 100 percent from 3,779 in 2011 to 7,796 in 2018.

Under Dr. Rhodes' leadership, ACC has been awarded regional, state, national, and international recognition, including the prestigious Seal of Excelencia from Excelencia in Education. It's also been named a top community college by the Aspen Institute; a Leader College by Achieving the Dream; a Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus Center; and a Board College for the League for Innovation in the Community College. Other accomplishments under his leadership include:

Districtwide Master Planning
To ensure the college's facilities and academic programs are designed to meet the evolving needs of Central Texas. As a result:

  • ACC's footprint in Central Texas grew with new campuses in Central Austin, Elgin, Hays County, and Leander.
  • Round Rock Campus expanded to include an ACCelerator lab and increased space for the continued growth of ACC's health sciences programs.
  • Renovations began at Rio Grande Campus to preserve the historic building while updating facilities.
  • Redevelopment began at ACC Highland to provide Central Austin advanced facilities for the digital and creative arts, industry incubators, a student-run restaurant, and collaborative learning models.
  • Future planning continued with the purchase of land in southeast Travis County for a regional workforce center and evaluations of the Pinnacle Campus property.

Guided Pathways
To provide students easy-to-follow maps to ensure they take the right classes and stay on track to completion. Initiatives include:

  • The ACCelerator learning lab designed to connect students with modularized courses and on-site academic coaching and tutoring.
  • Reimagined developmental education with co-requisite courses that place students in college-level, or gateway, English and math courses, and pairs those courses with college credit courses that help them progress toward their degree while completing TSI requirements.
  • Open Educational Resources to help alleviate the costs of textbooks.
  • Bachelor's degree programs to provide students a more affordable pathway to an in-demand skill set in the region. The college's first bachelor's degree in Nursing began in fall 2018. A second bachelor's degree program in Computer Science/IT is expected to begin in 2020.

Strategic Partnerships
To establish meaningful collaborations to close equity and success gaps and better meet the region's workforce needs. Partners include:

  • Statewide universities to ensure detailed articulations provide students a seamless pathway to a four-year institution through co-enrollment or transfer.
  • Regional school districts to increase access to higher education for students among our most underserved communities.
  • Business and industry to enhance opportunities for internships and earn-and-learn programs that provide students real-world experience that employers seek upon graduation.

Dr. Rhodes' contract will continue with the college until August 31, 2022.