The Austin Community College District (ACC) Board of Trustees approved a one-year extension to Chancellor Dr. Richard Rhodes’ contract during its regular meeting Monday, October 4.
Appointed in September 2011, Dr. Rhodes is the college’s longest-serving chancellor to date.
Under Dr. Rhodes’ leadership, ACC and its programs have been awarded regional, state, national, and international recognition. Most recently:
- ACC was ranked among the top in the state for transfer student success according to data released by The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB).
- In addition to being awarded the national Seal of Excelencia by Excelencia in Education in 2019, ACC has been selected as a 2021 Examples of Excelencia national finalist for accelerating student success through the Guided Pathways Advising Through Coaching program. The program is one of 21 finalists selected nationwide and the only community college program recognized in Texas.
- Community voters name ACC’s online program as the best Online Adult Education program in Central Texas in the Austin Chronicle’s 2021 Best of Austin awards.
- ACC was selected as a Best Place for Working Parents in a new statewide survey conducted by the Austin American-Statesman and The Best Place for Working Parents for its family-friendly policies and practices it offers to support employees, specifically working parents.
- A report released by Nursing Schools Almanac ranked ACC’s associate degree in nursing (ADN) program 5th overall, outranking every other Central Texas institution.
- ACC’s Adult Education (AE) division received two statewide awards: The Texas Workforce Commission Best in Class award, a performance-driven, quality award focused on a grantee’s performance toward meeting targeted measures, and the Texas Association for Literacy and Adult Education (TALAE) recognized Katherine Dowdy, ACC’s Adult Education executive director, with its Administrator of the Year Award.
- ACC has been recognized as one of the Best Engineering Degree Programs by Intelligent.com. It is the only community college on the list, ranked number 24 in the list of the Top 50 Engineering Degree Programs with the distinction of Best Associate Degree.
- Texas Online Colleges ranked ACC as a Top Hispanic-Serving Online college or university in Texas.
- The Austin American-Statesman has awarded the college’s Nursing Program with the Best of the Best Award for three consecutive years (2018-2020).
- The Austin Regional Manufacturers Association awarded ACC and ACC chancellor, Dr. Richard Rhodes, the Friend of Manufacturing Award for the work to create the new Advanced Manufacturing High School Academy and IMPACT Lab – a business incubator set to open in 2021 for aspiring manufacturers and entrepreneurs.
- ACC ranks top in the state and nation in online learning according to two recent reports. OnlineU.com ranked ACC among the top 20 colleges in the nation — and the only college in Texas — on its 2021 Best Online Associate Degree list. TexasOnlineColleges.com ranked the college among the 2021 Best Online Community Colleges in Texas for its distance education programs.
- For three years in a row, ACC has been named a top innovator by the League for Innovation in the Community College. In 2020, the college was awarded the Innovation of the Year award for its Public Safety Training Center (PSTC): Immersive and Dynamic Simulations for First Responders.
- ACC is the first community college to receive Salesforce’s Excellence in Institutional Efficiency award, which recognizes higher education institutions using Salesforce Education Cloud to increase operational efficiency by providing a holistic, connected campus experience.
- The Army Futures Command (AFC) named ACC as the home for its new Software Factory, a first-of-its-kind training pipeline for soldiers and ACC students. The factory, located in the newly renovated ACC Rio Grande Campus, is designed to help students rapidly scope and solve real-life problems through advanced software development processes.
In addition to keeping the college steady during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and the chaos of Winter Storm Uri, Dr. Rhodes has overseen important and innovative initiatives at the college. Most recently:
- The ACC Career Scholars program — an all-inclusive scholarship program that provides financial support for tuition and fees along with personalized student support services — which is demonstrating near-perfect persistence rates among participating students one year in.
- Larry M. Davis was named the college’s new Chief Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Officer (CEDIO) and will help continue the college’s work to address equity gaps at ACC.
- ACC’s inaugural Equity Council was formed. It is charged with helping the college reach its equity goals and serves as an advisory group to the chancellor and the chancellor’s cabinet.
- ACC launched the successful Fast Track Training Program aimed at getting Central Texans into high-demand career fields with discounted tuition in certain Continuing Education classes.
- ACC announced the creation of the new Make It Center, an innovative and interactive career exploration center to inspire middle and high school students and adults to consider college on the path to a future career. The new 10,000-square-foot center will be located inside ACC’s Highland Campus and provide visitors hands-on opportunities to explore ACC’s programs and connect their interests to community workforce needs.
- A Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) Committee was formed to develop three-year comprehensive plans focused on enrolling new students and retention for current students.
- ACC continues to pursue national Quality Matters (QM) certification — a faculty-centered, peer review process that certifies the quality of online courses — for its online learning programs.
- The college completed its 2020-25 Academic Master Plan (AMP) in March 2021. The report serves as a dynamic and long-term planning document to guide the college’s strategic expansion of instructional programs and student services in line with the institution’s overall mission, vision, values, and strategic plan.
- ACC was selected for the Equity Transfer Initiative (ETI), a national campaign developed by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), American Association of State Colleges & Universities (AASCU), and Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) to eliminate transfer hurdles. Together, the groups will provide ACC and other ETI partner institutions with personalized transfer coaching support.
- ACC was selected to participate in the Racial Equity Leadership Academy (RELA), an intensive year-long program Developed by Achieving the Dream and the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center and designed to support colleges as they develop strategic plans to eliminate structural barriers to equity and increase student success rates.
See previous recognitions here.
ACC has also established strategic partnerships to close equity and success gaps and better meet the region’s workforce needs. Recent business and industry partners include Tesla, NI (formerly National Instruments), Toyota, and Google.
Under the current extension, Dr. Rhodes’ contract will continue with the college until August 2024.