Friday, July 15, 2011

Local College One Step Closer to Offering BAT Degree

South Texas College is one step closer to offering a third Bachelor of Applied Technology degree. The new Bachelor of Applied Technology in Medical and Health Services Management received conditional approval this week from the Strategic Planning and Policy Committee of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

The committee recommendation moves forward to the full Coordinating Board for review and approval on July 28, 2011 to begin offering classes in fall 2011.

THECB committee members complimented STC’s responsiveness to the workforce development needs of the Valley and reinforced that the college is on the cutting edge of developing new programs for Texas. STC President Shirley A. Reed presented petitions in support of the new degree by elected officials and area leaders. Members of U.S. Congress Henry Cuellar and Ruben Hinojosa provided letters of support. Members of the Texas Legislature signed in support including Senator Judith Zaffrini, Senator Eddie Lucio Jr., Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, Representative Ryan Guillen, Representative Veronica Gonzales, Representative Armando Martinez, Representative Aaron Pena Jr. and Representative Sergio Munoz.

Regional leaders also signed letters of petition including Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia, Starr County Judge Eloy Vera, Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos, as well as the mayors of the cities of Alamo, Alton, Edcouch, Edinburg, Hidalgo, La Grulla, La Joya, La Villa, McAllen, Mercedes, Mission, Palmview, Palmhurst, Pharr, San Juan, Rio Grande City, Roma and Weslaco.

“We are very grateful to each of our supporters for their votes of confidence in the college,” Reed said. “STC is proud to be one of only three Texas community colleges accredited to offer Bachelor of Applied Technology degrees.  We have earned the trust and confidence of our elected officials and employers because we have demonstrated our ability to develop high quality new programs leading to high-wage jobs and we have done it very well.  We have set the state and national standard by developing rigorous programs and the proof is in our results.”

The STC BAT Program began in 2005 and has seen continued growth, graduating 310 students from the program to date, with an additional 54 graduates expected in August 2011. Four hundred more students are currently enrolled in the college’s BAT Program.

“As a community college we have a unique opportunity to prepare students with classroom knowledge, but also practical, technical, hands-on skills; that is the foundation of the success of our BAT Program,” said STC Chief Academic Officer Juan E. Mejia. “It’s why we have a five year average job placement rate of more than 90 percent – our BAT graduates are ready for the job on day one and in the medical field, there is no time to spare.”

“I also want to add that the support we received from all members of the THECB, especially Assistant Commissioner MacGregor Stephenson and Program Director Van Davis, has been phenomenal,” Mejia continued. “Drs. Stephenson and Davis are both champions for having institutions of higher learning meeting the needs of our communities by providing access to quality academic programs targeted at our regional needs, all at an affordable tuition.”

The new STC BAT degree will prepare graduates for entry to mid-level management positions at health care or medical facilities. Coursework will focus on health care facility management principles, technological innovation in delivery of health care services, health information processing technology and government regulations related to health care services.

Program graduates will be in a position to provide valuable expertise in the areas of health care systems management, finance, medical staff roles and responsibilities, reimbursement mechanisms, electronic medical records, privacy issues and legal issues related to the health care industry. The average median hourly earnings projected for program graduates is $27.92 per hour.

“The medical and health services management field is expected to expand in the Rio Grande Valley by almost 30 percent in the next 10 years, so we are working to fill that demand with smart, skilled local professionals,” Mejia explained. “STC’s divisions of Nursing and Allied Health and Business and Technology are producing record numbers of graduates that are perfect candidates for the program. It makes sense because it gives our associate degree graduates the opportunity to continue growing as professionals in this booming field. We look forward to continuing to respond to the needs of our communities with these kinds of innovative programs.”

STC is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as a Level II-baccalaureate granting institution. For additional information about STC’s Bachelors Program visit or call 956-872-7270 or 956-872-2036.

 Photo caption: South Texas College Bachelor of Applied Technology in Technology Management graduates during the college’s BAT Program graduation ceremony on May 14, 2011 at the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas.

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