AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin’s Community College Leadership Program (CCLP) has received $4.5 million from Houston Endowment Inc., to improve student success at 10 higher education institutions in the Houston/Gulf Coast region.
This grant, which will be used to expand the Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count initiative, is one of the largest ever to be issued by the endowment.
“Houston is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the country,” says Dr. Byron McClenney, project director, “and with this very generous support from Houston Endowment, we will have all public two- and four-year universities and colleges in the Houston area working on the same agenda—namely, to increase student success, particularly for low-income students and students of color. This is unprecedented in higher education—it’s a huge breakthrough.”
The 10 institutions of higher education funded by the new Houston Endowment grant join the University of Houston Community College System and Galveston College, which already are Achieving the Dream participants. A team at each funded institution will conduct an in-depth examination of student achievement data in order to determine that institution’s unique strengths and weaknesses. Using the data, as well as input from faculty and students, the team will create a strategic plan for improving institutional and student success, with a focus on traditionally underserved populations.
In becoming part of the initiative, universities and colleges agree to keep educational opportunities open to the widest possible array of students while also increasing the percentage of students who:
- complete the courses they take with a grade of C or higher;
- advance from remedial to credit-bearing courses;
- enroll in and successfully complete gatekeeper courses;
- re-enroll from one semester to the next;
- earn degrees and/or certificates.
“In addition to having these Houston area public universities and colleges join Achieving the Dream,” says McClenney, “we’re also excited about this grant allowing us to include the participating institutions’ Boards of Trustees for the first time. In the spring of 2007, we’ll start offering trustee training institutes, where board members will be able to share what’s working for their campuses, discuss policy and refine strategies that will encourage student success.”
Along with Houston Endowment, five other foundations and eight other national partners are supporting the initiative.
The CCLP, which is in the College of Education, was created in 1944 and is the oldest graduate program in the nation to be devoted to the preparation of community college leaders. More than 600 students have graduated from the program since its inception more than 40 years ago, and the CCLP has graduated more women and students of color into major positions of leadership than any other similar graduate program.