The Austin Community College District (ACC) Board of Trustees held its December regular meeting on Monday, December 7, via teleconference due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Below are highlights from the meeting.
ACC says goodbye to outgoing trustee, welcomes new one
Dana Walker was sworn in as ACC's newest trustee by the Honorable Judge Clifford Brown. She replaces outgoing trustee Mark Williams, who was presented with a certificate of achievement for his six years of service by Chancellor Dr. Richard Rhodes. Trustees also elected new board officers for 2021. Read more here.
Dr. Rhodes provided trustees updates on three of his priority areas for AY 2020, including:
3. Provide an exceptional online education
- The college is on track to increase the number of courses that are nationally Quality Matters certified from four to 15.
- Successful course completion rate for students enrolled in distance education is expected to increase from 68 percent in AY 2019 to 70 percent this year, and the number of fully online programs is on track to grow from 28 degrees and certificates to at least 31.
- A new unit to support student technology needs through a call center approach has been created to help close the digital divide.
4. Help Central Texans get back to work
- ACC is on track to double enrollment in the Career Scholars pilot program from 256 students this fall to 500 next fall, and Fast Track program enrollment from 246 students this semester to 500 by May 2021.
- The college is developing its third and final applied bachelor's degree program — a BAS in Engineering Technology — with the goal of submitting an application to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board by June 2021.
5. Increase course success rates
- ACC is on track to expand the number of course sections using external learning experiences from 45 to 54 to expand opportunities for students' experiential learning and career readiness.
- The college piloted an Early Alert System which provides faculty with a straightforward way to alert an academic advisor about a student who is struggling in class so they can reach out to the student and offer suggestions for support services. Faculty and staff will be surveyed about their satisfaction with the new system in February 2021.
The board will hear progress reports on priorities 1 and 6 in January and priorities 2 and 3 in March. Watch the chancellor's full presentation here.
Green Pass contract extended
Free public transportation on Capital Metro will continue to be offered to ACC students, faculty, and staff. Trustees unanimously approved a revised contract with Capital Metro that addresses the impact of COVID-19 on ridership. The amended contract runs through August 31, 2021, and is expected to save the college more than $200,000 through the spring semester.
Dr. Rhodes shared the following updates and announcements in his monthly report to the board:
- Spring registration continues to gain momentum with more than 26,000 students having registered at the time of the Board meeting. Registration started about two weeks later than usual due to COVID-19.
- The Office of Student Affairs is conducting a "Back to Campus" survey. The feedback from students will help inform the college's decisions to slowly and thoughtfully return to campus.
- ACC has distributed almost all of the CARES Act Student Aid that was received in May. The total amount of funding distributed in spring, summer, and fall is more than $6.9 million for more than 7,000 students.
- The ACC Foundation raised $8,100 dollars for student scholarships and emergency aid in 24 hours through the annual Giving Tuesday fundraising campaign, far exceeding its $2,000 goal. This year, the Foundation will be giving out a record $1.5 million in scholarships.
- ACC and Central Texas participated in what's become "Monolith Madness" by erecting a monolith at ACC Highland Friday, December 4. Faculty, students, and former students from ACC Welding Department custom-built the eight-foot-tall metal column. View photos and learn how this project came to life here.
- Another record number of ACC graduates — more than 3,400 — were invited to attend ACC's virtual commencement on Saturday, December 12, at 11 a.m. Watch the pre-show and the commencement ceremony here.
InnovATEBIO, National Biotechnology Education Center, grant report
Trustees heard an update on the $7.5 million National Biotechnology Education Center grant that ACC received in October 2019 from the National Science Foundation. The college was named the lead of the national InnovATEBIO Center for five years with ACC Biotechnology Department Chair Dr. Linnea Fletcher as the principal investigator and executive director. Watch the full report here.
Financial audit status report
Trustees received a presentation on the status of the district's financial audit from Neil Vickers, Finance and Administration executive vice president, and the college's external auditor, Weaver and Tidwell, LLP. The financials are expected to be finalized in two weeks. Watch the presentation here.