Hundreds turn out as ACC celebrates grand opening of Highland Campus

Highland Campus Phase 2 Grand Opening

More than 300 turned out to celebrate a major milestone at Austin Community College District (ACC). The college hosted a grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony for  ACC Highland Phase 2 on Friday, April 22, 2022. 

“This is so exciting, we have been waiting a long time for this to happen. I am a grandfather of nine grandkids and being able to open Highland Campus feels like that proud father, grandfather moment,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC Chancellor. “This campus is providing additional access to those critical skill sets necessary to fill the jobs and eliminate the pain points from industry throughout our area. ACC’s main mission is keeping education affordable while providing the right training to allow the community to earn higher wages.”

Guest packed the Highland paseo to hear special remarks from ACC Chancellor, Dr. Rhodes, ACC Board Chair, Dr. Nan McRaven, and guests Austin Mayor, Steve Adler, and Travis County Judge, Andy Brown.

“This is a place where anything can happen. No matter who you are, what your dream is, or where you want to go, you come to ACC and the Highland Campus and you can make it happen,” says Dr. McRaven, ACC Board of Trustees chairman. “From Culinary to Nursing to the Biotech and Fashion Incubator, you name it we have got it at Highland Campus.”

“Austin is dealing with the challenges associated with growth. There are so many people that want to live here and so many people coming in and quite frankly it is impossible to keep up,” says Mayor Adler. “How much better will it be if we were able to take the people who already live here and train them up? The mission of this ACC campus is so important to our entire community.” 

There also was a special appearance by legendary Asleep at the Wheel founder Ray Benson. Benson spent the past year working with ACC faculty and students to develop the college’s new song, which debuted at the grand opening.

Located in the heart of Austin, Texas, the ACC Highland serves as a regional hub for higher education collaboration and workforce training. The campus is now home to more than 20 programs, four incubators, a creative digital media center with world-class studios and recording labs, performing arts venues, Health Sciences simulation labs, a student-run restaurant, and more. 

“We’ve got everything you need. You can live, you can work, you can play here, you can learn here. That is why it’s important,” says Jeffrey Richard, former ACC Board of Trustee chairman. “It is hard to take quality to this size of scale. You can create a small boutique very well and it isn’t unusual to see something big done in a mediocre fashion. It is very difficult to do a big thing in an excellent manner and that is what ACC has done.”

A model now being replicated across the country by colleges and universities, ACC began purchasing parts of Highland Mall – Austin’s first indoor shopping mall –– in 2011. Phase 1 opened in 2014. That same year, voters approved two general obligation bonds in November 2014, representing $386 million in collegewide capital improvements. Approximately $152.8 million was allocated for ACC Highland Phase 2, which was completed on budget. 

Next, the college invites the entire community to explore Highland. A special community-wide open house will be held Saturday, April 23, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The open house features hands-on demonstrations, interactive tours, panel discussions, workshops, employer meet-and-greets, custom support applying, registering, and paying for classes, and more. 

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