In a meeting of the Texarkana College Board of Trustees today, Dr. Donna McDaniel, TC Vice President of Instruction, informed the board that TC is receiving a $1.18 million TRIO grant from the U.S. Department of Education to fund an Educational Opportunity Center. The grant, payable over the next five years, will enable TC to provide advising assistance to more than 1,000 low-income, first-generation college students who want to enter a program of postsecondary education or complete their high school equivalency. Important program objectives are to advise participants on financial aid options, including basic financial planning skills and economic literacy, and to assist them in the college and financial aid application process.
Dr. Tonja Mackey, TC’s Executive Director of TRIO and Library Services, will have oversight of the program while Lee Williams, TC’s Director of Admissions and Recruiting, will be Director of TC’s EOC.
“Many of the people TC will be able to help through this grant have no idea that a college degree or certificate is even within their reach,” Mackey said. “The effects of this grant will be life-changing for numerous Bowie and Cass County citizens.”
The goal of the U.S. Department of Education’s EOC program is to increase the number of adult participants who enroll in postsecondary education. Although the main objective is to reach non-traditional students who are underserved adults, EOC centers can also provide assistance to graduating high school seniors who are not already being served by another federal grant such as Talent Search or Upward Bound. The addition of the EOC program brings TC’s involvement with U.S. Department of Education TRIO grants up to three on-campus programs, which include Student Support Services and Academic Talent Search.
In other business, President James Henry Russell gave trustees an update on the proposed expansion of TC’s tax district and the anticipated training site in Cass County. TC recently announced the appointment of Roger Hailey as an interim board representative from Cass County and the addition of a new high-tech Industrial Maintenance/Multi-Craft program to the course lineup at the proposed site.
“We are listening to feedback from citizens and businesses and responding to their needs as we develop our presence in Cass County,” Russell said. “Roger Hailey is a Cass County resident and former Atlanta ISD Superintendent. His appointment as an ex-officio trustee on the TC Board will give Cass County citizens immediate representation and a voice in decisions that affect TC’s service to their county.”
Russell said TC is grateful for Hailey’s willingness to serve in this capacity should Cass County residents choose to join the TC district.
“We believe Mr. Hailey will keep the needs of Cass County at the forefront of any future board decisions,” Russell said.
Russell also reported that the decision to add the Industrial Maintenance/Multi-Craft program to the lineup of courses at the proposed TC Cass County site came as a result of input from regional industry leaders and major employers. Representatives from employers including International Paper, Cooper Tire and Domtar serve on TC’s workforce advisory boards and help design curriculum tailored to the needs of their labor force.
International Paper’s Cass County Mill Manager, Matt Barbour, told TC officials that having TC’s Industrial Maintenance/Multi-Craft training available in Cass County is exactly what they need to ensure access to a pool of skilled workers. According to regional employment data, there is an aging workforce in Northeast Texas and Southwest Arkansas with a limited supply of skilled workers to fill job vacancies. The Industrial Maintenance/Multi-Craft program at TC is tailor-made to respond to this need.
“This is a big part of what we do at TC. As a community college, we work with our region’s employers and align our programs with workforce needs,” Russell said. “Having International Paper and other key employers like Cooper Tire at the table helping us design our training programs ensures they are confident in TC’s ability to prepare students to work with emerging technologies and machines that keep their operations strong and productive in our region.”
Students who complete the Industrial Maintenance/Multi-Craft program will be ready to go to work for area industries and will have skills necessary to adapt to a multitude of tasks. The program provides students with internship opportunities and training in Electronics and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), Electrical, Welding, Machining, and Mechanical Operations.
Russell presented a detailed floor plan for the proposed TC training site located at 101 East Pinecrest Drive in Atlanta, Texas. The plan includes space for Cosmetology, Licensed Vocational Nursing, Industrial Maintenance/Multi-Craft, and Welding training programs along with administrative space to help register students in TC’s Professional Truck Driving Academy and other programs.
Russell also presented a summary budget for TC Cass County showing all proposed taxpayer revenue invested in the development and continued operation of the proposed training site.
Trustees also heard a report from McDaniel, about TC’s involvement with the Komen Race for the Cure event held last weekend. TC culinary faculty and staff prepared and served breakfast to hundreds of honored guests at the Survivors’ Breakfast, and Team TC participated by coming out strong in support of the cause.
“I could not be more proud of our faculty, staff, and students who represent TC in our community at every turn,” McDaniel said. “This year at the Race for the Cure, Team TC won the Komen Spirit Stick Award- the highest honor for a team’s participation in the tailgating event, and also came in second place in the largest team entry for a school division. TC had over 170 registered team members, several of whom are breast cancer survivors.”
McDaniel thanked individual members of the faculty and staff for their leadership year after year in representing TC at our community’s largest fundraising event. Those recognized were team captain Connie Brian and team co-captain Patricia Meyer, along with Robert Guillory, Rick Boyette, Mindy Preston, Traci Pitman, Emily Cook, and Suzy Irwin, who served as team coordinators.