The Austin Community College District (ACC) Board of Trustees held its first regular meeting of 2023 on Tuesday, January 17, at Highland Business Center.

Trustees received an update on Chancellor’s Priority 1: Equity, discussed ACC’s federal and state legislative priorities for 2023, and approved new appointments to the college’s Regional Advisory Committees. 

Below are highlights from the meeting.

Update on Chancellor’s Priority 1: Equity

Trustees heard updates on the college’s progress toward the Chancellor’s equity goals, including increasing faculty diversity, reducing withdrawals, and expanding programming at ACC’s Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Center. 

Data show ACC made modest increases in the percentage of diverse faculty for both adjunct and full-time faculty. In fall 2017, full-time faculty was 29% diverse, and adjunct faculty was 23%. Those numbers grew to 34% and 29%, respectively, in fall 2022. Since implementing equity-hiring training in 2020, 469 faculty hiring committee members have undergone the training, and it is anticipated that 100% of all personnel involved in the hiring process will have received training during the spring 2023 semester.

To continue progressing and better support equity and inclusion goals, the college will pilot a Provost Fellowship program in fall 2023. A minimum of 12 fellows will receive mentoring support and an initial reduced course load.

ACC also started a learning community that emerged from ACC leadership training and coaching provided by the Achieving the Dream Racial Equity Leadership Academy. 73 out of 80 invited faculty from eight targeted high-enrollment/high-withdrawal gateway courses participated in the inaugural RELA professional learning community. The baseline withdrawal rate in these courses is 17%. Their goal is to reduce withdrawal rates to 15% in the spring 2023 semester when participating faculty implement their racial equity change efforts.

Finally, ACC’s TRHT Center is working to expand programming and hired a new program coordinator to assist with the effort. The center started a Local Heroes Speaker Series, Tournament Tuesdays socials, and hosted a retreat for ACC’s cultural center directors. 

ACC State and Federal Legislative Priorities for 2023

Trustees approved the 2023 state legislative priorities of the Texas Association of Community Colleges and Community College Association of Texas Trustees. These include:

1. Community College Finance Reform – Support legislation developed from the Final Recommendations of the Texas Commission on Community College Finance.

2. Texas Educational Opportunity Grant (TEOG) – Support flexibility for the required matching funds community colleges must meet to access Texas Education Opportunity Grants, with an eye toward equal requirements with TEXAS Grants.

3. Cybersecurity and IT Modernization – To the extent available, utilize one-time funding opportunities for critical IT infrastructure modernization at community colleges. Avoid unfunded mandates for community colleges to meet state cybersecurity requirements with the Department of Information Resources.

4. Clinical Nursing Sites – Address the shortage of clinical sites and hours for community college nursing students statewide.

5. Texas Transfer Framework – Seek statutory authority for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to improve implementation and accountability of the new Texas Transfer Field of Studies initiative, specifically with acceptance and applicability of credit hours upon transfer.

Federal priorities are still being finalized by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Trustees approved a motion allowing the ACC delegation who will be in Washington, D.C., for the ACCT/AACC National Legislative Summit in early February to communicate ACC’s support for the priorities identified for the 2023 legislative session. Trustee Chair, Dr. Barbara Mink, asked administration to provide a recap of the summit and the priorities when they return.

Regional Advisory Committee Appointments and Report

Members of ACC’s Regional Advisory Committees (RACs) provided a brief report on its activities during 2022 and plans for 2023. In 2022, the RACs focused on ACC’s bond proposal. Members met twice to help the college formulate final recommendations for projects and amounts. They also provided input on materials to be used to educate the public about the bond. Some RAC members helped promote the bond by identifying opportunities for community presentations, attending events in their capacity as RAC members, and communicating about the bond through friends, neighbors, and professional networks.

In 2023, the RAC will be involved in ACC’s Strategic Planning process by participating in meetings with strategic planning consultants and serving as a community focus group and sounding board for strategic plan issues. Additionally, the role of the RACs will expand to include bond advisory to help ensure the college’s infrastructure investments are informed by diverse community input.

Trustees approved the following appointments to the RAC for 2023:

New appointments and reappointments (terms run through 2025)

– Alyssia Palacios-Woods (Steve Jackobs)
– Albert Hawkins (Gigi Edwards Bryant)
– David Glass (Dr. Barbara Mink)
– Pooja Sethi (Sean Hassan)

– Bobby Jenkins (Dr. Richard Rhodes)

– Cynthia Wilcox (Stephanie Gharakhanian)
– Tony DeLisi (Dr. Manuel Gonzalez)
– Gaby Fuentes (Gigi Edwards Bryant)
– Tam Hawkins (Dr. Richard Rhodes)

Appointments to fill unexpired terms ending in 2024

– Jason Giulietti (Dr. Richard Rhodes)

– Skyler Korgel (Stephanie Gharakhanian)

Appointments to fill unexpired terms ending in 2023

– Bryan Ashton (Dr. Manuel Gonzalez)

– Dazzie McKelvy (Steve Jackobs)

– Randy Ortega (Julie Nitsch)

Chancellor’s Report

The board meeting coincided with the first day of classes for the spring semester. ACC Chancellor Dr. Richard Rhodes says he was out on campus earlier welcoming students as part of the college’s welcome tables initiative. He thanked everyone who put it together and the volunteers from all divisions who greeted students throughout the district and provided them with information to start the semester strong.

Dr. Rhodes informed trustees that preliminary data show enrollment is slightly up over this time last year, and that the biggest increase in enrollment is among new students.

He also notified Trustees that campuses are now adorned with special banners districtwide to celebrate the college’s 50th anniversary

Dr. Rhodes congratulated the ACC Children’s Lab School for receiving reaccreditation for another 5-year term. The program received an overall 100 percent pass rate. 

Finally, he announced that ACC has been recognized as a Top Producer for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program for the 2020-21 academic year by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. ACC is the only community college in Texas to be named a Top Producer.