Austin Community College

Austin Community College

Students heading to college have many steps to take before they can enroll. Some of those steps, like navigating the financial aid system, choosing which courses to take and finally scheduling classes, can be daunting for some students. 

Austin Community College is trying to make the process easier for students by establishing a new center to help shepherd struggling students through the process.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News.

Three of the five races are headed to a run-off on Dec. 16.

Here are the final numbers:

District One: 

  • Ted Gordon 34.56%  (Run-Off)
  • David 'D' Thompson 28.45% (Run-Off)
  • P. Kevin Bryant 18.73%
  • Stanton Strickland 18.25%

District Four: 

  • Julie Cowan 77.41% (Winner)
  • Karen Zern Flanagan 22.59%
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

For the second time in more than forty years, Austin Community College is asking voters to approve a bond package that it says will allow the college to expand its offerings to students in Central Texas.

The $386 million bond proposition would allow ACC to renovate current buildings, build new campuses and expand programming.

Proposition 1: $224 million to retrofit the new campus at Highland Mall, build a campus in Leander (where student enrollment is at capacity) and buy land in southeast Travis County for future campuses.

Spencer Selvidge/KUT

Austin Community College wants to offer graduates with an associate’s degree in nursing a chance to earn a bachelor of science in nursing.
The proposal comes as more healthcare providers increasingly require nurses to have more advanced degrees and the state deals with a nursing shortage.

The program would let students with an associate’s degree take 10 extra courses to receive a bachelor’s in nursing. Studies show facilities that have more nurses with baccalaureate degrees often have better patient outcomes, and the Institute of Medicine is recommending 80 percent of bedside staff at hospitals have a bachelor’s in nursing by the year 2020.

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

With Austin's transportation bond, Prop 1, and Texas' additional transportation bond, also called Prop 1, garnering all the contention and headlines ahead of Election Day, it's easy to forget about other, less flashy bond propositions.

Austin Community College's three bond and tax propositions may not be high-profile, but they're not cheap either. If approved, the community college's proposed bonds would bring in nearly $400 million to fund expansion and renovations and would give ACC the ability to raise the cap on its tax rate.

Audrey McGlinchy/KUT

To Veronica Escobedo, it resembled a fancy hotel – not quite a college campus.

But the first-year radiology student said the stylish and comfortable furniture, much of it still wrapped in plastic, would encourage her to stay on Austin Community College’s new campus between classes.

“There are bigger areas to actually study with people,” Escobedo said. “Most of the time I found myself studying with people off campus. The design and architecture make it really feel like a home.”

Kate McGee, KUT News

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan was at Austin Community College Friday afternoon meeting with male high school and college students of color. It’s part of the White House’s 'My Brother’s Keeper' initiative to close the achievement gap between young men of color and their peers.

Sitting in a circle, about 15 young African American and Hispanic male students sat with the secretary telling him about their role models, their aspirations and the struggles they face at home and school. Some had disciplinary problems, many were raised by single parents. Others were bullied or said they needed mentors.

Alberto Garcia is an ACC student who’s also taking care of his sister’s son.  He says one of the big problems for minority students in low-income neighborhoods is a lack of employment networking opportunities.

Daniel Reese for KUT News

Following a national trend digitizing high school equivalency tests, Texas will only offer the GED test online come January. The State Board of Education approved some final changes to the new testing process Thursday as the state prepares for the transition.

The test will be entirely online, which means students need to be more computer literate.

flickr.com/Rex Turgano

Sustainable agriculture has found a new home in Austin – and students are the first to benefit from it.

Austin Community College is set to launch its Sustainable Agricultural Entrepreneurship program, teaching agricultural knowledge and skills in sustainable crop growth. The program will include three different non-credit courses that will be held at ACC's new 98-acre Elgin Campus. 

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Heading to college is confusing under the best of circumstances. But for many young people aging out of foster care, the challenges can be almost impossible to overcome.

Some schools in Texas host programs each year aimed at trying to help foster kids make the transition.

Elizabeth Day (courtesy BGK Architects)

Austin Community College is breaking ground today at a vacant JCPenney store in Highland Mall. The store will be converted into a learning environment for ACC.

"This is a really big day for ACC as well as the surrounding neighborhood and in fact all of the communities that we serve," ACC spokesperson Alexis Patterson said. "It’s great for the area. It brings new life, new people coming to the mall. And the mall’s still in operation, so we’re excited about the boost this is going to give to the mall as a whole.”

flickr.com/lonecellotheory

It's not just any ol' Monday—it's Inauguration Day and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The streak of beautiful weather in Central Texas looks to continue today. The National Weather Service reports we'll get up to a high of 68 with partly sunny skies.

Lead Story: President Barack Obama will be ceremoniously sworn in for his second term this morning. NPR is providing on air coverage on KUT 90.5. Click here for a full list of the day's events.

Locals Head to Washington: The Bailey Middle School Wind Ensemble will represent Texas at the Presidential Inauguration Festival today. Ensemble Director Bill Haehnel is leading the group of sixty-one 12 to 14 year-olds.

Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Austin Community College now has complete ownership of Highland Mall. The college announced today that it has acquired the ground lease for the sections of the building it didn’t already own.

ACC now plans to quickly move forward to make new use of the site. ACC President and CEO Dr. Richard Rhodes said in a statement today that the first step will be renovating the former J.C. Penney property into classrooms and labs.

“In particular, the Penney space will house the college’s math emporium, an open-lab model that allows students to move through developmental math curriculum at an individualized pace,” reads a statement from ACC.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is in Austin, where he was a keynote speaker at South by Southwest’s second annual SXSWedu conference. But Duncan also took time today to speak to a crowd at Austin Community College’s Eastview campus for a “town hall” discussion on education issues.  

But once applause greeting Ducan settled, he received  a more abrupt welcome: Three Occupy Austin members stood and shouted out a prepared statement attacking the privatization of public schools and other educational grievances.

The "mic check" can be read on Occupy Austin Twitter magnet Kit O'Connell's website. It reads in part (emphasis in original): "As Secretary of Education, Your job is to discover a way to provide schools & teachers PUBLIC resources & funding, NOT from private charters & corporations."

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Austin Community College has selected an architectural firm for its redevelopment of Highland Mall.

At their meeting this week, the ACC Board of Trustees selected Austin-based BGK Architects to serve as the architectural and engineering team to oversee renovation of the former J.C. Penny’s store at the moribund mall. ACC plans on using the site as an educational space.

BGK Architects is no stranger to civic initiatives: they’ve previously worked on the Palmer Events Center, the Austin Convention Center Parking Garage, and more.

ACC has steadily acquired nearly all of the land encompassing the largely-vacant Highland Mall. It owns the stores of former anchor tenants Macy's and one of Dillard's two stores, plus the land underneath the mall itself; the remaining mall structures are locked into a lease with their operator through 2070.  An ACC press release notes "existing mall businesses will continue operations according to the terms of their subleases with the ground tenant."

Photo by KUT News.

ACC Accreditation on Warning

A warning has been placed on Austin Community College's accreditation status for the next six months. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS) says it issued the public sanction because ACC violated rules for reporting significant changes to its academic programs. ACC is still accredited.

The SACS Board will review ACC's status again in June 2012. At that time it could lift the warning, keep it in place, or as a last resort remove the college's membership. Accreditation is used to determine eligibility for federal financial aid and gives colleges a reputable standing.

ACC responded to the warning in a statement to the Austin American-Statesman:

Photo by lissalou66 http://www.flickr.com/photos/lissalou66/

Austin Community College students and staff who make a New Year’s resolution to stop smoking will have an added incentive when they head back to school: ACC’s smoke-free policy takes effect on January 2.

The policy was adopted by the ACC board in October and bans smoking anywhere on college grounds or inside ACC-owned vehicles. Signs reminding people about the new policy will be set up over the winter break.

Photo by KUT News.

Texas Wildfire Season Turns A Year Old

Today marks one year since the first of the many wildfires broke out across Texas. The Texas Forest Service says fires have burned nearly 4 million acres statewide since November 2010. That includes the 34,000 acre Bastrop County Complex fire that started Labor Day weekend. Despite the rain overnight, fire bosses are bracing for another active fire season this winter.

State Assistance to Rebuild Fences Destroyed by Wildfires Extended

Photo courtesy of Carla Jackson

Many African-American and Hispanic women interesting stories to tell, but don’t always have the platform to do it. As in many professions, minority women are underrepresented in film, theater, and television.

Austin film producer Carla Jackson is trying to do something about that. She’s hosting a free producing and writing forum for minority women next Thursday at Austin Community College’s Eastview Campus.  

The workshop is called Women Doing it For Themselves, and it brings successful local women into the same room as their aspiring colleagues to share information and to help fresh talent get off the ground.

We called Jackson to ask about it.

Photo by jenbooks http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenbooks/

Austin Community College is waiting for a ruling from the Third Court of Appeals of Texas before it will move forward with construction of a new campus in Kyle.  The lawsuit by a Kyle dentist challenging the outcome of a November referendum also caused ACC to miss out on $20 million in federal bonds.

Pages