The Austin Community College District (ACC) Board of Trustees held its April regular meeting on Monday, April 5, via teleconference due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Below are highlights from the meeting.
Army Futures Command Software Factory at ACC
The Army Futures Command (AFC) Software Factory moved into ACC's Rio Grande Campus in February, and General John Murray updated trustees on its status. General Murray explained that the Software Factory will train soldiers in data, data science, and coding so that the Army no longer has to rely on contractors and field service reps. The Factory will partner with both ACC and leading technology companies to help do so. The first cohort consists of 25 soldiers, and cohort 2 will start in June. Both Gen. Murray and ACC Chancellor Dr. Richard Rhodes discussed the daily cross-fertilization they expect to see between the soldiers and ACC students. View photos in the latest Rio Grande Campus construction update.
ACC Pinnacle Campus
The college is exploring options on a proposal to use portions of its Pinnacle Campus as a staging area for a new TxDOT improvement project called the Oak Hill Parkway happening along the 'Y' in Oak Hill. Trustees heard from Colorado River Constructors (CRC) — the project contractors — as well as members of the Oak Hill community. Trustee Chair Dr. Nan McRaven said the college is open to assisting if it's in the community's best interest and the safest option. CRC and State Rep. Vikki Goodwin will host an information session in the community to share additional facts about the project and proposed plant. ACC will be there listening and looking for more details about:
FY 2022 Budget Study
Neil Vickers, ACC executive vice president of Finance and Administration, reported that ACC is starting its fiscal year 2022 budget process with a balanced budget. He said that fortunately, many of the concerns the college had last year due to the pandemic did not happen. Enrollments have actually remained steady, and the college is expecting a 5 to 10 percent increase in state appropriations as well as an increase in the property tax base. The draft budget he presented sets aside a two-percent increase for compensation packages and funds all commitments related to bringing on Highland Campus buildings 2000 and 3000, the Rio Grande Campus main building, and a new chiller plant. It also keeps tuition and fees steady.
Other budget topics the board will discuss in future meetings include board policy changes to property tax exemptions; the Technology and Capital Outlay Plan; compensation and benefits, including non-faculty market study; and new budget items, including operations for new facilities and Strategic Plan initiatives/new items.
Chancellor Dr. Richard Rhodes told trustees that he testified before the Texas House Higher Education Committee in favor of HB 3348, a bill that allows community colleges to offer up to five bachelor's degrees. If it passes, it would allow ACC to offer two more bachelor's degrees. He said the bill is expected to pass this week.
After a nationwide search, Amy Bawcom has been selected as the new ACC Foundation director. She starts the position April 12. Dr. Rhodes thanked Curtiss Stevens for serving as interim director of the foundation.
Dr. Rhodes also provided updates on the following topics:
Dr. Rhodes congratulated:
Chancellor's Priority No. 3 Report
Mike Midgley, ACC vice president of Instruction, provided updates on the Chancellor's Priority No. 3: Provide an exceptional online education. Distance Education offerings have increased from 60,000 credit hours pre-pandemic to 300,000 credit hours this spring. For fall, the college has a target of about 25 percent face-to-face or hybrid class options, meaning the majority of courses will still be taught online.
Some notable milestones under this priority include:
ACC Team Participating in the Racial Equity Leadership Academy
ACC is one of 10 community colleges nationwide selected to participate in the Racial Equity Leadership Academy (RELA) by Achieving the Dream. ACC Chief Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Officer Larry Davis provided trustees with a brief update. The team selected two strategies for development based on prioritizing resources where the data shows the greatest need: the top 10 core credit gateway courses with the highest enrollments and faculty hiring. ACC's first meeting with the ATD racial equity coach is April 30.
Bristol-Joseph Culinary Arts Scholarship
ACC is offering a new Culinary Arts scholarship in partnership with the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce, and award-winning chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph. The new Bristol-Joseph Scholarship Foundation provides two ACC Culinary Arts students of color financial support, guidance, and mentorship. The Foundation will provide $12,000 for two scholarships, or $6,000 per student. Applications for the scholarship are open through mid-May.