2017 in Review: Strengthening the Foundation for the Future

2017 was a year of beginnings and transitions for Austin Community College. The college celebrated new construction projects at five campuses and introduced several processes to better support student success and completion initiatives. Read about some of the year’s notable events.

Capital Improvement Project Celebrations

The San Gabriel Campus topping out ceremony in June celebrated the future of the Leander community. Scheduled to open next summer, the San Gabriel Campus will serve one of the fastest-growing areas in the country. The three-story campus will offer transferable general education courses and career training, initially accommodating up to 2,500 students. It will feature a 150-seat ACCelerator integrated with a library and tutoring areas, multipurpose rooms for community use, and open spaces for studying and gathering, including a 3,900-square-foot rooftop terrace.

More than 100 years after the Rio Grande Campus first opened its doors, ACC broke ground in August on state-of-the-art renovations and historical preservation to the main building. Scheduled to reopen 2019, it will be home to ACC’s Deaf community, offering expanded programs and services. The campus also will feature a three-story ACCelerator, advanced classrooms, and innovative labs.

Construction began on ACC Highland Phase 2 that will add advanced facilities to prepare students for high-demand careers and nurture local business growth. Community leaders and friends joined ACC in September for a ceremonial groundbreaking.

ACC broke ground at Round Rock Campus in February and in September celebrated progress  and collaboration with a topping out ceremony. Phase 2 will add a 45,000 square-foot general education building featuring a 140-seat ACCelerator. The project also will renovate existing facilities to support a number of programs, particularly those for high-demand healthcare careers such as nursing, sonography, and surgical technology. Campus capacity will increase from 5,000 to 6,000 students.

In May, community leaders and friends joined ACC to break ground on a new first responder training center at the Hays Campus. A topping out ceremony was held in November.

New programs, processes

In January, ACC celebrated the grand opening of the ACC Bioscience Incubator at ACC  Highland. The innovative wet lab is the first part of the campus’ phase two renovations. The first such facility at a Texas community college, the Bioscience Incubator provides critically needed research space for life science companies to develop products such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices while providing educational programs, internships, and real-world training to ACC students.

ACC launched a new app development program in partnership with Apple for students who want to pursue careers in the fast-growing app economy. The program features Swift curriculum, one of the world’s most popular programming languages.

A new degree in medical device manufacturing is now offered to prepare students to work in the area’s growing biomedical-device industry.

The administrative dean divisions were restructured to align with Areas of Study to help streamline and enhance student pathways within areas of study and provide better support for the programs engaged in this work.

Weekend College options were expanded with new degree and workforce certificate programs at Highland, Round Rock, and Riverside campuses.

Concordia University Texas and ACC launched a co-enrollment partnership that started fall 2017 offering career-technical students a flexible, affordable path to a bachelor’s degree.

In the 2017 legislative session, legislation was passed to allow community colleges to offer up to three bachelor’s degrees, including nursing. This has allowed ACC to move forward with creating an RN-to-BSN program. Trustees approved the proposed degree program in December. Upon receiving approval from Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Texas Board of Nursing, and American Association of Colleges of Nursing (for programmatic accreditation), ACC will begin offering coursework in the fall of 2018.

Trustees also approved a proposed Associate of Science in Emergency Management degree. The program prepares students for careers in Emergency Management. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for Emergency Management Directors in Central Texas is expected to increase 22 percent through 2027. The programs is expected to be offered beginning fall 2018.

More recognition

ACC President/CEO Dr. Richard Rhodes was selected to join the Board of Directors of the League for Innovation in the Community College, an international consortium dedicated to enhancing community colleges for their students and communities.

ACC was one of 10 institutions nationwide selected to serve as a site for a Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus Center for its commitment toward closing equity gaps and creating an inclusive learning environment.

ACC’s Accelerated Programmer Training (APT) Program was selected as one of the top performing college programs in the state, winning the prestigious 2017 Star Award, presented by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for programs that increase access to higher education and training.

ACC was named a “Voter Friendly Campus” for its efforts to break down barriers and empower students with information and tools to participate in the political process and also named the top college in the state of Texas for university transfer, according to a recent ranking by successfulstudent.org, a student resource website.

The Path to Admission through Co-Enrollment (PACE) program with UT-Austin was awarded a 2017 Outstanding Institutional Advising Program Award from the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) in October.

Giving back

The ACC Foundation raised $1,650 in just one day on Giving Tuesday, November 28. Funds support student scholarships.

Throughout November and December, organization collected coats, toys, and children’s books for Coats for Kids, Blue Santa, and Brown Santa. ACC presented more than 4,000 children’s books to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office for its Brown Santa program.The ACC community contributed $66,030 to this year’s State Employee Charitable Campaign, exceeding last year’s donations by more than $4,000. This benefits local, statewide, national, and global charitable organizations.


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