Lee College wins Star Award

Lee College has earned the prestigious 2014 Texas Higher Education Star Award for its Gulf Coast Partners Achieving Student Success (GCPASS) program, a partnership with the Goose Creek school district to support students from their transition into college through successful completion of a degree.

Lee College was one of four Star Award recipients statewide announced this week at the Texas Higher Education Leadership Conference in Austin.

Established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in 2001, the highly coveted and competitive award recognizes exceptional contributions toward meeting one or more of the goals defined in the Texas higher education plan – including helping to close the gaps in student participation and success. More than 30 programs across the state were nominated for Star Award consideration this year.

“We are very excited to receive the Star Award honoring the GCPASS program, which has played an important role in our continued effort to provide students with all the guidance and encouragement they need to complete their education and pursue their dreams,” said Lee College Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown. “Our partnership with the Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District is an example of the incredible success that can be achieved when we work together as a campus and as a community.”

Funded by a grant from the Houston Endowment, GCPASS aims to provide students with wrap-around support as they prepare to enter Lee College and as they work to earn their chosen degree. The ultimate goals of the partnership are to ensure that 100 percent of the seniors in the Goose Creek school district complete the compulsory steps required for college enrollment by the time they graduate high school; to increase college readiness and student success in developmental education and gateway courses; and to create a college-going culture in the Baytown community and beyond.

There are multiple facets to the GCPASS approach:

• Members of the local community and representatives from business and industry are engaged through the “Cradle to Career Network;”

• Families are invited to visit the Lee College campus and learn more college opportunities through Parent College Workshops delivered in both English and Spanish and even held on Saturdays;

• College faculty lead students on career cluster tours and participate in professional development with their high-school counterparts, with whom they also work to align secondary and post-secondary outcomes in math, English, science and social science; and,

• College and high-school counselors, advisers and outreach specialists share in professional development and work together to ensure that students complete all necessary enrollment steps to transition into college, from applications and financial aid to testing, new student orientations and class registration.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education, successful entry into the workforce and a variety of sought-after careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite office in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 12 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Mitsubishi gives $250K in equipment, software

Lee College received this month a $250,000 suite of digital computer equipment and software from Mitsubishi Electric Corp., which will be used to train students for a range of high-demand, high-wage technical careers.

The donation included state-of-the-art Mitsubishi programmable logic controllers (PLCs), as well as associated software and training for instructors. Company representatives joined Lee College Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown, members of the Board of Regents and other administrators for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, May 2, at the McNair Center to get a firsthand look at the PLCs before students begin working with them.

An essential piece of equipment in many industries, PLCs help automate electromechanical processes — from the control of a vent fan in an oil refinery, to the motion of a conveyor belt on a factory assembly line. Technicians use specialized software to program the systems to produce the desired function.

In thanking Mitsubishi for its generosity, Dr. Brown noted that Lee College is fortunate to have strong connections with many industry partners. Such relationships benefit students by providing enhanced educational resources and greater opportunities for future success, he said.

“What Mitsubishi has done for the college will move us forward in our mission to prepare our graduates for industry,” Dr. Brown said. “Learning these skills will help students secure a career that can last a lifetime.”

Mark Werthman, director of the technical support group for Mitsubishi, said he hoped its donation would further bridge the gap between industry and education. Finding qualified employees is important to both the company itself, and the customers that purchase its products.

“We recognize the commitment at Lee College to the education and re-education of the workforce in this area, and we thank them for recognizing the needs of the industry,” Werthman said. “We are excited to have this opportunity and look forward to helping the college every step of the way.”