Chancellor addresses student needs

Dr. Joe May, chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD), held a Student Centered Network update for faculty, staff and students at Richland Nov. 8. The focus was on the needs of individuals, employers and communities to improve outcomes by moving to an integrated master plan.

Richland president, Dr. Kay Eggleston, joined May on stage. Dr. Carol Kent, speech communications professor, served as Master of Ceremonies. May answered a variety of questions and said he planned to visit every DCCCD college this semester.

Richland president, Dr. Kay Eggleston and Chancellor Joe May at Fannin Hall on Nov. 8.

Richland president, Dr. Kay Eggleston and Chancellor Joe May at Fannin Hall on Nov. 8.

One of the first questions concerned overall student enrollment and how the Dallas County Promise has affected the student experience.

“We want to find a way to get more students into higher education,” May said. “It’s more about how we’re engaging with our high schools and how we’re engaging with the students. We knew all along that our price is incredibly affordable and shouldn’t be a barrier.”

May said one of the factors to helping students from an economically disadvantaged background was whether or not the students completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in high school so students could have their college tuition paid for at one of the DCCCD colleges. That process has led to 31 high schools participating in the Dallas Promise this fall. This coming year, the district hopes to accommodate students from 43 high schools.

“We ended up getting about 65 percent finishing the FASFA,” May said.

The coordinating board made a presentation to the Board of Trustees Nov. 6 on enrollment in the state. May said most of the growth in higher education in the state of Texas is coming through two-year colleges.

“While the universities were up across the entire state, about 8,000 students, [in] the DCCCD alone we were up this fall 14.65 percent across the board. That’s 10,000 students this year over last fall.”

May said he wanted to explain what a “Student Centered Network” means.

“What we’ve not always done is design all our systems with the individual student in mind. We want to make sure that we’re keeping that student in mind. It begins with an education master plan. What we’ve not done historically is kind of look at the broader picture of what’s going on throughout the country and throughout the district that we serve.”

Eggleston said she was pleased to announce that 277 full-time Promise students enrolled at Richland this fall. Next year, Hillcrest High School students will be on campus with more to follow from the Richardson ISD and Garland ISD.

To respond to those growing numbers, Richland is increasing its faculty and staff by adding seven full-time faculty members during the spring semester.

“The initiative focused on the lowest performing schools in the DISD, making a transformative difference in those high need areas,” she said.

Kent said changes were coming to enhance the student experience with a new textbook program, the Follett Learning Initiative.

“About one third of students don’t ever have textbooks for the courses they are enrolled in,” she said.

The plan is to work with over 300 publishers each year to move towards digital materials to reduce the cost of books for students. The pilot program will move be implemented in the fall of 2019.

“Richland College is certainly committed to providing an exceptional learning environment and services every day for every student, every place, every time,” Eggleston said. “We embrace a student-centered culture and we are deeply committed to equity, diversity and inclusion in all of our work, modeling the change that we want to see happening.”