2016 in review: New beginnings lay a foundation for the future


2016 was a year of beginnings and transitions for Austin Community College. The college celebrated new construction projects at three campuses and introduced several processes to support student success and completion initiatives. Read about some of the year’s notable events.


“Virtual” groundbreaking unveils Bioscience Incubator

In February almost 200 science industry representatives and community leaders joined the college at a virtual groundbreaking for a commercial wet lab facility coming to ACC Highland. The new facility, officially renamed the ACC Bioscience Incubator, opens in January.

Friends, supporters celebrate future San Gabriel Campus


San Gabriel Campus “groundbreaking”

Heartfelt and inspiring tributes marked the ceremonial groundbreaking for ACC’s San Gabriel Campus in Leander April 21. Members of the Living History Detachment from the Texas Military Forces Museum fired a volley heralding the proclamation of Austin Community College Day in the City of Leander.

SAC commemorates 10th anniversary

ACC’s South Austin Campus celebrated its 10th anniversary August 4. More than two dozen faculty and staff have worked at the campus since it opened.

Elgin Phase II construction gets underway

In October friends joined the college to break ground on new facilities for the Elgin Campus. Scheduled to open spring 2018, the expansion includes an 18,500-square-foot academic building for the Veterinary Technology and Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurship programs and an 11,000-square-foot outbuilding to support the campus working farm.

Round Rock Campus Early College High School opens


Round Rock Early College High School at ACC

ACC and Round Rock Independent School District celebrated the first Early College High School housed on an ACC campus October 27. More than 100 RRISD ninth-graders are enrolled in the inaugural semester of Round Rock Early College High School at ACC.

Alumni Network launches

President/CEO Dr. Richard Rhodes joined friends and alumni at a February kickoff event for the Alumni Network. The group organizes programs and events for members to network with fellow alumni, take advantage of learning opportunities, and support the life of the college.

New programs, processes

New areas of study support guided pathways

ACC clustered programs into 10 areas of study and implemented several new processes for student onboarding and advising. College teams have been mapping courses into program pathways. Meanwhile the college helped hundreds of students learn about the new program areas at Destination: ACC events.

Degree programs target high-growth jobs

ACC introduced degree and certificate programs in logistics and global supply chain management, and advanced manufacturing with a specialization in medical device technology. The number of logistics and supply chain management jobs in Central Texas is projected to grow 47 percent over the next six years, three times the national average.

Texas A&M, Concordia partnerships provide new degree paths


Texas A&M-Chevron Engineering Academy announcement

In September ACC announced a partnership with Texas A&M University and Chevron Corp. to create the Texas A&M-Chevron Engineering Academy at ACC. Students will take their first two years of coursework at ACC while pursuing one of 18 majors within Texas A&M’s engineering program. Students can begin applying for the fall 2017 academy class in January.

Beginning fall 2017 students who earn a workforce degree will have the option to remain at ACC while they pursue a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science degree in business from Concordia University Texas. Students who have completed or almost completed their two-year A.A.S. degree can apply for automatic admission to the 3+1 B.A.A.S. program. They spend a third year at ACC fulfilling Texas core curriculum requirements. During their fourth year they take Concordia courses taught by the university’s instructors on ACC campuses.

Achieving the Dream recertifies ACC as Leader College

The Achieving the Dream organization recertified ACC’s Leader College status. Leader Colleges are considered exemplars in improving student outcomes. To earn Leader College status, institutions must show three years of steady improvement in at least two measures of student success.

Grant funds low-cost OER-based degrees

Achieving the Dream also awarded a $300,000 grant to a consortium of Texas colleges to develop degree programs that can be completed using open educational resources. ACC and its grant partners will develop materials for general studies degrees. ACC plans to schedule its first grant-funded OER course in spring 2017.

Trustee changes

ACC’s Board of Trustees has some new faces: Jeffrey Richard and Dr. Victor Villarreal opted not to seek re-election, while Allen Kaplan stepped down after 22 years of service. In a historic move, ACC voters elected the first student to serve on the board. Nicole Eversmann, a member of the college’s Futures Institute, was sworn in December 5, along the Dr. Nora De Hoyos Comstock, who was elected to the Place 6 seat replacing Trustee Guadalupe Sosa. Sosa is running for the place 9 seat. That seat and the place 4 spot will be decided in a December 13 runoff election.

ACC on the national stage

jennyatsotuStudent Jenny Bragdon was invited to be the guest of Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden at January’s State of the Union address in Washington, D.C. Bragdon met Biden on her visit to the Highland Campus ACCelerator in March 2015.

Dean of Library Services Dr. Julie Todaro began her term as president of the American Library Association. She is the first community college librarian to serve in the role, which includes serving a year each as president-elect and past-president.

More recognition

College makes Forbes best employer list

ACC was the only community college on Forbes’ 2016 America’s Best Employers list. The list ranks the country’s top large and midsize employers based on input from more than 30,000 workers representing 1,900 businesses and institutions. ACC placed 70th among midsize companies and organizations.

Agency lists ACC as Fulbright top-producer

The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs listed ACC among institutions sending the most Fulbright program participants abroad in 2015-16.

Giving back to students and the community


Operation Riverbats volunteers

  • Almost 90 students, faculty, and staff volunteered at 30 organizations during the second annual Operation Riverbats Service week in October.
  • The 11th annual Golf Scramble raised more than $30,000 for the Student Emergency Fund. A record number of golfers and teams participated in the October event, which helps students facing an emergency continue at ACC.
  • The ACC Foundation raised more than $3,000 – three times its goal — in just one day on Giving Tuesday, November 29. Funds will support student scholarships.


Coats for Kids volunteers

  • Throughout November and December, organizations collected coats, toys, and children’s books for Coats for Kids, Blue Santa, and Brown Santa.


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