Monday, December 26, 2011

Local College Honored for Increasing Graduation Rate

During the fall 2011 semester, South Texas College was one of only four community colleges from across the state to receive special recognition from the Texas Association of Business. The award was presented in Austin to applaud the college's efforts to increase its graduation rate, as well as help students progress through the higher education system in a timely manner.

“We hear a lot about the colleges that aren’t pushing students to succeed, pushing them to get a degree,” said Texas Association of Business President and CEO Bill Hammond. “STC is one of four community colleges that are getting it right. Each of the honorees has shown significant improvement in the number of students completing degree plans and improvements in student achievement.”

STC was honored in the very large community college category, along with Howard Community College in the small category, Paris Junior College in the medium category, and Blinn College in the large category. TAB asked The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to use its outcome-based model, called Momentum Points, to measure the relative improvement of all community colleges on metrics such as developmental education completion, transfers, credit accumulation and certificate and degree completion between fiscal years 2007 and 2010. These are areas TAB believes are critical for producing better results. Based on these measures, STC stood out from its peers in the state.

“At only 18 years old STC has grown from just 1,000 students its first year to serving more than 31,000 students, and with that enrollment comes great responsibility,” said Dr. Shirley A. Reed, STC president. “We believe in access and for this reason have a strong commitment to students enrolling with the college, but we also want to ensure our students are leaving our halls with value and that value comes from earning a certificate or degree. Knowledge is power, but it is much more powerful when backed by an earned degree. With STC, students are receiving a quality education.”

From 2008 to 2010, the college has seen an increase of 85 percent in students earning a degree or certificate, an increase of 20 percent in the number of students transferring to a four-year university or college and an increase of 60 percent in the number of students who earn at least 30 credit hours from the college. Most recently, more than 3,200 students earned a bachelor's, associate or certificate from the college in May 2011

“We are tackling major issues head on, including college readiness, persistence in higher education, and completion by design,” Juan E. Mejia, STC vice president for academic affairs. “We are working with our K to 12 partners to begin preparing students for college starting in kindergarten, so that they will know that they will be attending college and performing well through the system.”

As graduation rates have increased at STC, the percentage of students taking some developmental courses at the college has decreased from 62 percent of the student population to just 40 percent. During the same 2008 to 2010 time period, the percentage of students passing a college-level math course at the college increased by more than 700 percent.

“To be competitive and be ready for the jobs of the 21st century Texas must be ready to train the next generation of workers, that’s why our community colleges are so valuable,” said Hammond. “These are the examples. These colleges show that change can be made, and outcomes for both students and employers can be improved.”

Founded in 1922, The Texas Association of Business is a broad-based, bipartisan organization representing more than 3,000 small and large Texas employers and 200 chambers of commerce. For more information about the organization visit

For additional information about South Texas College visit or call 956-872-8311.

Photo caption:
STC Division Dean of Business and Technology Mario Reyna, STC President Shirley A. Reed and STC Vice President for Academic Affairs Juan E. Mejia with the college’s award from the Texas Association of Business.

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