Dear Faculty & Staff,
Welcome to a new academic year. I hope your first week back is going well. The start of the semester is often one of my favorite times. This fall, things look different. Many of us are still teaching, learning, and working remotely. We may not be together, but I have seen how extraordinary teamwork is making a difference.
Every member of the ACC community is doing their part to overcome tough obstacles and ensure we have a safe and successful year — despite an unpredictable pandemic. As a result of your compassion, grace, and dedication, our students are thriving. We have seen persistence go up, withdrawals go down, and completion rates reach new highs.
Our college is pulling together like never before. You transitioned to online learning and brought back in-person instruction in new, innovative ways. You distributed hundreds of iPads and laptops, millions of CARES Act student aid dollars, and countless hours of virtual student support. For those of us who do come to campus, you implemented new health and safety protocols like temperature checks, facial coverings, and social distancing to keep us safe. All of your great work allows us to remain focused on our mission.
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, Austin Community College District has demonstrated the value of collaboration, connection, and caring. We continue to put students first and focus on student success, and our students know it. The Noel-Levitz survey on student satisfaction shows the ACC student experience has improved across the board and is above the national average in all categories. That is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff.
The college is also committed to your success. Early in the year, we conducted an employee climate survey that shows there is a lot of work to be done to improve communications, engagement, and resources for our employees. We are still reviewing these important findings. It is my promise that we will work together to build a successful work environment.
I invite you to join me on September 3, at 11:30 a.m. for our first Virtual Campus Conversation with the Chancellor of the year. I will be joined by members of our leadership team. We’ll share information about our work at the college, priorities for the new year, and steps we are taking to build on a culture of caring.
When we say ACC is for everyone, we mean it. It is our commitment to honor ACC’s beautiful diversity through the power of inclusiveness. ACC is home to Texas’ first Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers. We were the first college in the state and one of only nine selected nationwide to serve as a TRHT Center. This is a testament to the good work happening here, and we must continue this work to foster a community free of intolerance and discrimination.
Our students, and you, deserve a college that is respectful, supportive, and safe — where we can all pursue our dreams and achieve our goals.I want to share with you a welcome video we also sent to students.
Best of luck on a successful fall semester! Thank you for your ongoing commitment to ACC students, and each other.
Richard M. Rhodes, Ph.D.
Austin Community College District