Groundbreaking Celebrates New Hays Campus

With temperatures soaring to triple digits outside, more than 800 community leaders, students, and friends gathered in the air-conditioned comfort of the Hays CISD Performing Arts Center June 27 to help Austin Community College celebrate the groundbreaking for its Hays Campus and learn about cool careers in high-growth industries.

In a program that was festive, inspiring, and even touching, leaders representing the college and the Buda and Kyle communities spoke about the effort to bring ACC to Hays County, and the benefits that will result.

“With the unparalleled growth in the Buda-Kyle area, the Hays Campus promises to be a flagship campus in the ACC system,” Dick Schneider, retired president of the Buda Area Chamber of Commerce, told the audience. “Our future is here and now.”

The Hays Campus initially will accommodate 2,000 students.

Hays CISD voters approved annexation into the ACC District in November 2010. Construction on the campus, located on 96 acres near the Plum Creek development at Kohler’s Crossing and Kyle Parkway, will begin later this summer. The campus is scheduled to open in time for the spring 2014 semester.

The first phase of the campus, an 88,300-square-foot, three-story structure, will support up to 2,000 students. The facility will feature state-of-the-art instructional areas and accommodate a full menu of student support services. In addition to core curriculum/transferable courses, the campus will offer career training in areas such as computer networking and security and child development.

“We’re designing training programs that align perfectly with the region’s strategic development plans and lead to good paying jobs,” said ACC President/CEO Dr. Richard Rhodes.

Ray Hernandez, executive director of the Kyle Area Chamber of Commerce, said the new campus fulfills the community’s goal to bring higher education to the area, and does so with convenience and affordability.

“The addition of this campus will be an economic driver in attracting quality companies, jobs, and amenities to support the needs of the continually increasing population of our community,” he said.

Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president/CEO, and Dr. Barbara Mink, chair of the Board of Trustees, reveal a rendering of the campus.

Following the program, ACC officials and local leaders participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking at the campus site, a short distance from the Performing Arts Center. Most visitors remained at a college fair to gather information and meet with ACC faculty and staff representing health sciences, business studies, computer studies and advanced technologies, fire protection technology, and several other programs.

The Lehman High School Mariachi Los Lobos and friends added a festive touch to the event, which also included a moving performance by the Fuentes Elementary Star Choir.

Guests also were touched by ACC alumna Dr. Christina Sheely, who gave an emotional account of her path to becoming an orthopedic surgeon, and the significant role ACC played in her journey.

A Hays High School graduate, Sheely started her education at the University of Texas but soon realized she needed an alternative. Affordable tuition and smaller class sizes led her to ACC; she ultimately finished her degree at the University of North Texas. Sheely returned to her home community and is chief of surgery at Seton Medical Center Hays.

Sheely concluded by noting that her husband and daughter both are ACC students, adding, “We are ACC.”

Dr. Rhodes said that while the new campus would be a pride point for the community, what happens within the facility is what will help ACC achieve its goal of becoming the premier two-year college in the country.

“We are honored by the warm welcome we received from so many Hays residents,” he said, “and we look forward to being part of an education boom in the community.”

Unable to attend the event? Click here to view the full program online as it was streamed live to the public. Visit ACC’s Hays Campus webpage for construction updates.0

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