Trustees reflect on two decades of progress
Austin Community College District (ACC) is preparing for a transition in its board leadership with the departure of four trustees in December.
Jeffrey Richard, Guadalupe Sosa, and Dr. Victor Villarreal are completing their terms and not seeking re-election, while Allen Kaplan is stepping down after 22 years of service.
“ACC would not be where it is today without the leadership of Trustees Kaplan, Richard, Sosa, and Villarreal,” says ACC President/CEO Dr. Richard Rhodes. “Their combined vision and unwavering dedication to our students will continue to benefit not just the college, but our entire region for years to come.”
Richard has served two terms, or 12 years. Sosa and Villarreal are completing six-year terms. Each is leaving the board to devote more time to careers and family.
“It’s time to pass the torch to new leadership,” says Kaplan, whose departure before his term expires coincides with his wife’s planned retirement and eliminates the need for a special election later. “There are a lot of things I’m proud of. In the end, it’s the thousands of students who have come through here, made a life for themselves and their family, and bettered themselves and their community.”
“’Students first’ was my motto when I ran for the board and it still is,” says Sosa. “We have accomplished a lot of good things over the last six years. Now it’s time to spend time with my family.”
During their collective tenure, the trustees have overseen remarkable growth in ACC’s reach and enrollment. They have steered the college through leadership changes, approved progressive policies on behalf of students and employees, and promoted fiscal responsibility to keep tuition affordable. (See highlights below.)
“To have participated actively in the policy decisions we’ve made over the past decade — from employee healthcare, to tuition rates, to adding communities to our tax base — is the single greatest honor I have been afforded,” says Richard, who served as board chair from 2012 to 2014 and vice chair from 2010 to 2012. “I feel like I’m leaving the college in a better position and poised for extraordinary things.”
The trustees are ushering in a new period of progress and growth highlighted by a $386 million capital improvement project and a collegewide focus on improving student completion rates.
“This is really a unique era in our college, where we are pivoting to become a national leader as well as a regional resource,” says Villarreal, current board chair. “Through the leadership and dedication of future trustees, Dr. Rhodes, and the college’s faculty and staff, I know ACC will achieve great things.”
ACC trustees are elected at-large by voters in the ACC District, which includes the Austin, Leander, Manor, Del Valle, Round Rock, Elgin, and Hays school districts, along with the City of Austin (including portions of the Eanes and Pflugerville school districts). Trustee candidates must reside within the district.
ACC achievements and milestones (1994-2016)
- Expanded taxing district to include Manor, Del Valle, Round Rock, Elgin, and Hays school districts.
- Created campus advisory committees.
- Hired President/CEO Dr. Richard Rhodes.
- Purchased Highland Mall tracts.
- Opened Eastview, South Austin, Round Rock, Elgin, Hays, and Highland campuses.
- Conducted $386 million bond election for campus construction and renovation, including a new Leander campus.
- Purchased 124 acres in southeast Travis County for future workforce training center.
- Expanded Early College High School partnerships to eight.
- Created co-enrollment partnerships with the University of Texas at Austin and Texas State University.
- Expanded programs to improve student success and completion rates.
- Strengthened collaborations with local businesses to target labor force needs.
- Established policy for Public, Private Partnerships (P3) to draw outside investments in the college and student development.