College looks to future
from more than forty applicants, Dr. Christal Albrecht assumed the
presidency of Alvin Community College (ACC) in May of this year. She
succeeded Dr. A. Rodney Allbright who had served 38 years as
president. Albrecht takes leadership at a time Community Colleges
and High School Career and Technical programs are receiving
increased emphasis among young people and those looking to change
careers. Skyrocketing costs associated with earning a college
degree, a more generally recognized notion that not all students are
suited for higher education, and increasing confirmation that
skilled trades are the hardest jobs to fill are all driving the
renewed focus on what was previously known as vocational training.
of Albrecht’s aims upon assuming the presidency is working to build
relationships with local business and industry and to increase the
college’s visibility among the communities it serves. Albrecht says
she is “shocked by the number of people who don’t know there is a
community college here. For me I am on an awareness building
campaign, just trying to get the word out that we are here and this
college has so much to offer the community and has played and can
continue to have a big impact on economic development for this whole
region.” In that regard she was invited to make a presentation to
Manvel City Council this month. Manvel Mayor Delores Martin
introduced Dr. Albrecht as “one of the finest women I have ever met
and she is going to do wonderful things with the college. I am blown
away by all the opportunities that Alvin College affords.”
Albrecht promotes the college explaining “we pride ourselves on
meeting the needs of our community by offering a wide variety of
programs, courses, and services to help you build your future,
achieve your dreams, and contribute to the continued prosperity of
our community.” In fact, the college offers thirteen Associate in
Arts, seven Associate of Science, and twenty-two Associate in
Applied Science degree programs. It provides over thirty certificate
programs and the college’s workforce training division operates over
thirty programs for area businesses and industry. Albrecht believes
Community Colleges are a “pathway to success” and describes Alvin
College as “an investment in the community, we are here for business
and industry to provide a trained workforce, and we provide a great
return on investment for the communities we serve.”
The college graduated 1100 students in May. The average age of an
ACC student is 23 and range in age from 13 to 82. 58% of students
are women. According to a college report 83% of enrolled students
plan to earn an Associate’s Degree or transfer to a local university
to complete bachelor’s degree program. Class sizes are small
relative to the state average at a level of about 17 students per
each faculty member and the school enjoys excellent pass rates on
state license exams.
Albrecht touts the college as “top ranked” as the institution was
named three years successively as being among America’s top 10% of
community colleges by the Aspen Institute. She describes that “as
quite an honor when you consider there are 1,132 community colleges
in the US and that ACC was named in that top group.” The recognition
is based on student success in retention and completion, performance
and improvement over time, and performance of underrepresented
minorities and institutions in low-income service areas.
In addition to academic degree programs, which students typically
use as a step to higher education, the college offers many technical
degree programs that allow students to complete a year or two of
study and be able to enter the workforce with a good paying and
stable job. Technical degree programs include law enforcement,
allied health and nursing, business and technology, and process
technology, which Albrecht boasts as very popular for people who
want to work in area chemical and refinery plants.
Workforce development programs offer still quicker paths to enter
the workforce. People can in just a few months get training in areas
like commercial truck driving, massage therapy, and even helicopter
flight training. Other workforce development programs include fields
such as machinist, computer technician, dental assistant, welding,
and a variety of courses in health care.
More than 100 classes are offered online and five academic degrees
can be earned entirely online so that students would not have to
attend classes on a regular schedule. Various continuing education
and workforce development courses can be completed online as well
such as real estate and medical transcription.
Dual credit programs are offered to students at area high schools
that allow students to enroll in college courses and earn credit
that can be applied to their college degrees. Dual credit enrollment
in the fall of 2014 showed 523 students from Alvin ISD and 605
students from Pearland ISD. In May of last year 31 students
graduated from college with a two-year degree a week before
graduating from high school. As Albrecht describes it, “these
students are transferring off to colleges and universities as a
junior. Pretty phenomenal. We expect that number to continue to grow
as more students are fed through the pipeline. Even if they don’t
earn a full degree, many of them earn valuable hours that gives them
a jump-start on their college career.” Studies show these students
are far more likely to complete their college education, which means
they will get better jobs and earn more money.
The college offers various leisure and non-degree activities such as
computer and software training, personal enrichment, physical
fitness, and safety education in areas such as motorcycle riding and
concealed handgun training. Additionally, the college provides other
areas of cultural enrichment for the community. Performing and
visual arts, music, and sports are all part of campus life that are
made available for community enjoyment.
The college’s taxing area is similar to, but not exactly the same
as, the area comprised by the Alvin Independent School District. In
addition to the taxing area, the college has a service area that is
legislatively determined that is above and beyond the taxing area.
Danbury ISD and parts of Pearland comprise that service area.
Students of the college who reside outside the taxing area pay a
higher tuition, which is about double the rate for students in
district. 45% of students live in the district. Albrecht explains
the higher cost “does not cover the full cost of tuition but it does
help us recoup some.” In addition to student tuition and fees, the
college is funded by local property taxes and money from the state.
The college originated in 1948 when voters in the Alvin Independent
School District authorized its creation. In 1971 a separate
administration, tax district, and College Board was established to
manage a newly created Alvin Junior College District. Up to that
time the college’s management was borne by the school district.
Initially the college was part of Alvin High School and shared
facilities with grades 11 through 14. In 1959 the college
successfully met the standards of the Southern Association of
Colleges and Secondary Schools and was better supported by
additional facilities and a larger faculty.
Community College moved to its present campus in the summer of 1963
with the construction of buildings to house Academics, Science, and
a Student Center. In 1974 voters approved an expansion of the
college district that nearly doubled its geographical size and in
1975 voters approved an $8 million bond issue that provided funding
for the facilities that generally comprise the campus as it exists
today. In 2004 voters approved a $19.2 million bond for the
Science/Health Science Building which opened in 2007.
In 2008 the campus experienced significant devastation resulting
from Hurricane Ike. College administrators used the misfortune as
opportunity, however, and completed a substantial renovation of the
campus which had grown tired after more than forty years of service.
The Alvin campus today comprises 113 acres and 15 buildings.
Enrollment has grown from 134 students in 1949 to nearly 5,000
students in 2014.
In looking toward the future, Albrecht explained the Board of
Regents approved the preparation of a facilities master plan that
will look at current facilities to determine what should be
renovated or repaired, consider possible new buildings for the main
Alvin campus, and look toward where the demographic trends are
taking the college as it looks to potentially expand to the fast
growing west side of the college’s service area. “We think there
could really be a need for us to be over there,” she says. She also
will be looking at what services the college should be offering at
the Alvin campus and at a potential second location. She does expect
the college to consider a bond election as funding would be required
to realize any expansion of facilities.
Albrecht is hopeful of soon selling the college’s Pearland campus
which was abandoned due to a lack of economic viability. That campus
has been for sale for some time but only recently has a more
determined effort been undertaken with the hiring of a professional
broker to effectively market the site. Funds from that sale could be
used to perhaps acquire the land for a new location.