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Houston Endowment Inc. invests in scholarships for Texas community college leaders

A recent $1 million gift from Houston Endowment Inc. to The University of Texas at Austin will help prepare new generations of leaders for Texas community colleges.

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AUSTIN, Texas—A recent $1 million gift from Houston Endowment Inc. to The University of Texas at Austin will help prepare new generations of leaders for Texas community colleges.

The grant to UT’s Community College Leadership Program (CCLP) is earmarked for creation of the Jesse H. Jones Endowed Fellowship Fund, which will generate significant, ongoing support for talented graduate students preparing for leadership positions in community colleges throughout the state.

"The rapid growth and increasing complexity of Texas community colleges pose an urgent need for a new generation of professional, visionary leaders," said Dr. John Roueche, Sid W. Richardson Regents Chair and director of the CCLP. "We are very grateful for Houston Endowment’s generous gift, which will help meet this critical leadership challenge."

The CCLP, located in the UT Austin College of Education’s Department of Educational Administration, is the top-ranked program of its kind in the nation. Since 1944, it has been on the forefront of the community college movement in America and has produced more community college presidents, vice presidents, chancellors and deans than any other graduate institution in history.

Enrollment in Texas community colleges has grown steadily in recent decades — from 38,000 in fall 1964 to more than 500,000. In 2001, over 51 percent of all students enrolled in the state’s institutions of higher education attend community colleges. In response to the needs of businesses and communities, the role of community colleges has expanded to encompass workforce education and technical expertise, as well as academic course work and lifelong learning opportunities for adults. The "open door" policy of these two-year institutions makes them the point of entry to higher education for many Texas students who would otherwise not attend college.

Jesse H. Jones Graduate Fellowships will be awarded annually in the amount of $8,000 each, with matching funds provided by sponsoring community colleges. Recipients will have strong leadership potential, roots in Texas and a commitment to community college leadership.

Houston Endowment, created in 1937 by Houston entrepreneur Jesse H. Jones and his wife, Mary Gibbs Jones, supports higher education, the arts, health and human services, K-12 education, medical research and facilities and local communities. All totaled, the foundation has provided more than $30 million in support to the University.

"In Texas today, roughly $1 million students are enrolled in higher education, an impressive number until we look at participation in higher education as a percentage of the overall population," said George Grainger, grant officer at Houston Endowment. "Texas is well below the national average and will continue to lose ground unless thoughtful steps are taken. We are encouraged by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s new higher education plan for Texas — Closing the Gaps by 2015. For Texas to close the gap in higher education participation, our state’s community colleges will play an increasingly important role. We are gratified to have the opportunity to assist CCLP in its important work: training the future leaders of our state’s community colleges."