Lee to reveal major expansion of McNair Center at Feb. 4 grand opening

BAYTOWN, TX – Lee College will celebrate next week the opening of the 50,000-square-foot expansion of the McNair Center, where students will receive hands-on technical and industrial training for well-paying careers in the booming petrochemical and construction industries.

The grand opening ceremony will be held from 5-7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 4, at the McNair Center, which is located along Interstate 10 and easily accessible from all points of the Lee College service area. The event is free, and members of the public are welcome to attend.

Nearly 200 community members, education and business leaders and other supporters joined Lee College in December 2014 to break ground on the $12 million McNair Center expansion, which will house existing programs in machining, millwrighting, pipefitting and welding. Students will train with the latest tools of the trade in a state-of-the-art industrial environment closely modeled after what they will find upon entering the workforce. Welders, pipefitters, millwrights, and machinists earn a median salary of $18-24 per hour, and have the potential to earn as much as $75,000 annually with a two-year degree.

Lee College has earned national recognition for its high-value curriculum that prepares students for high-paying positions in the petrochemical industry and related sectors. Brookings Institution ranked the college second in the nation for contributing to the economic success of its graduates, finding that Lee College alumni earn an average salary of $69,000 by the time they reach the midpoint of their careers.

Lee College is also the lead institution in the Community College Petrochemical Initiative (CCPI), an ExxonMobil-funded collaboration between the nine Texas Gulf Coast community colleges to help recruit and train new generations of skilled workers needed in the region.

The McNair Center first opened in 2008 and quickly outgrew the available space, prompting an initial renovation that was completed in 2011. The latest expansion project was funded through a bond issue approved in 2013 by 72 percent of voters.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

University reps to talk transfers at College Day

BAYTOWN, TX – Representatives from the University of Texas System, Texas A&M University System and more than a dozen other universities across the state and beyond will be at Lee College next week for College Day, an annual event where students and their families can learn more about how best to prepare to transfer to a four-year institution for a bachelor’s degree.

College Day 2016 will be held from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 4, in Rundell Hall. The event is free and open to the public, and all school districts in the Lee College service area are especially invited to attend.

Institutions that have confirmed participation in College Day include: The Art Institutes; Dallas Baptist University; East Texas Baptist University; Grantham University; Howard Payne University; Sam Houston State University; Tarleton State University; Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi; Texas Southern University; Universidad de la Americas Puebla; University of Houston Clear Lake; University of Texas at Austin; and the University of Texas at Dallas.

The Texas Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers presents College Day each year. Refreshments will be served, and there will be prize drawings and goodie bag giveaways. For more information, contact Sharon Sampson at 281.425.6384 or ssampson@lee.edu.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand 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 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Aspen names Lee a Top 150 community college

Aspen AwardBAYTOWN, TX – The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today named Lee College as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and $1 million in prize funds, as well as student scholarships from the Siemens Technical Scholars Program.

This is the fourth consecutive awards cycle that Lee College has been designated an Aspen Prize Top 150 U.S. Community College.

The Prize, awarded every two years, is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among American community colleges, acknowledging institutions for exceptional student outcomes in student learning; certificate and degree completion; employment and earnings; and access and success for minority and low-income students.

Lee College and the other institutions announced today were selected from a national pool of more than 1,000 public two-year colleges using publicly available data on student outcomes in three areas:

  • Performance, including retention and graduation rates, transfers and degrees and certificates awarded per 100 full-time equivalent students;
  • Improvement, awarded for steady progress in each performance metric over time; and,
  • Equity, evidence of strong completion outcomes for minority and low-income students.

A full list of the selected colleges and details on the selection process are available at www.aspenprize.org.

“With the leadership and commitment of our Board of Regents, Lee College faculty and staff work tirelessly to develop innovative programs and strategies that ensure all of our students receive a quality education and the tools to create a better, brighter future,” said Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown. “We are proud to earn recognition as a Top 150 community college and excited to again be considered for the Aspen Prize.”

Nearly half of America’s college students attend community college, with more than 7 million youth and adult learners working towards certificates and degrees in these institutions across the country.

“Community colleges have tremendous power to change lives, and their success will increasingly define our nation’s economic strength and the potential for social mobility in our country,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “This competition is designed to spotlight the excellent work being done in the most effective community colleges, those that best help students obtain meaningful, high-quality education and training for competitive-wage jobs. We hope it will raise the bar and provide a road map to better student outcomes for community colleges nationwide.”

Lee College has been invited to submit an application to the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence containing detailed data on degree and certificate completion, labor market outcomes and student learning outcomes.

For the first time, the 150 Prize-eligible institutions are also invited to nominate exceptional students enrolled in their best middle-skill STEM programs for scholarships. Up to 50 Siemens Technical Scholars will be selected from programs that provide outstanding preparation for high-demand jobs in manufacturing, energy, health care, and information technology. A partnership between the Siemens Foundation and the Aspen Institute, the Siemens Technical Scholars Program intends to help our nation’s community colleges and their business partners bridge the gap between projected shortages of skilled workers and the millions of high-demand jobs in these STEM industries. Scholarship winners and the programs that deliver rigorous training enabling their success will be announced in fall 2016.

Ten Prize finalists will be named in fall 2016. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data. A distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner and a few finalists with distinction in early 2017.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand 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 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Improv groups perform at R.E.A.L. Comedy Night

Can't Tell Us Nothing improv comedy troupe
Can’t Tell Us Nothing improv comedy troupe

BAYTOWN, TX – Lee College will kick off Black History Month with an improv comedy show at the Performing Arts Center (PAC) featuring two groups known for entertaining audiences with clever satire and interesting characters in unexpected situations.

The R.E.A.L. Comedy Night will start at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 28, at the Black Box Theater inside the PAC. Tickets are $5 and proceeds will benefit the Reaching Excellence Against Limitations (R.E.A.L.) student organization, which works to educate, empower, enhance and create positive change for black male students on campus.

“Improv is a way to be creative and a way to explore your voice, discovering who you are as a performer and person,” said Jessica Falla, a college counselor who also advises the R.E.A.L. organization. “We thought it would be great to showcase these wonderful black performers and celebrate their talent.”

A Spike Lee Joint improv comedy Troupe
A Spike Lee Joint improv comedy Troupe

Falla is one-half of A Spike Lee Joint, the first group that will perform at Comedy Night. The duo explores taboo subjects such as racism, sexism and ageism – often resulting in scenes marked by satirical, darker humor. They draw their themes from anonymous letters sent by people willing to share their experiences as members of marginalized groups.

The second troupe to take the stage will be Can’t Tell Us Nothing, four black performers whose improv is inspired by rapper Kanye West. The group introduces strong and whimsical characters in their fast-paced scenes, then takes those characters down rabbit holes and unpredictable pathways.

The R.E.A.L. Comedy Night at Lee College may contain language and material that may not be suitable for all audiences. Performers will participate in a live question-and-answer session after the show about why they do improv comedy and the choices they make on stage. For advance tickets or more information, contact Falla at 281.425.6421 or jfalla@lee.edu.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Student group sponsors voter registration drive

UPDATE (posted 9:30 a.m. Tues., Jan. 26, 2016):
Because of the cold weather, all voter registration events have been moved to the Student Center.

***

Phoenix Women Rising, a student group at Lee College, is sponsoring a three-day voter registration drive next week to help the community get ready for the March 1 presidential primary elections in Texas.

Members of the public can receive assistance with voter registration in the Student Center:

  • 1-5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25
  • 1-5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26
  • 2-5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27
  • 1-5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28

Phoenix Women Rising is an organization that supports the academic, professional and personal endeavors of women. For more information, email Abby Vernier at avernier1313@gmail.com.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Women in Industry Conference Feb. 19

Petrochemical refineries need to replace as much as 40 percent of current employees over the next decade — due to plant expansions and an aging workforce.

The need has created a “perfect storm” for women in what was once a virtually exclusive male profession. But no more.

women-in-industry.jpegThe region’s nine community colleges, partnering as the Community College Petrochemical Initiative (CCPI), are encouraging women across the Gulf Coast to explore options in the petrochemical industry in a daylong event on Friday, Feb. 19, at the Hotel Galvez in Galveston.

CCPI is funded by a grant from ExxonMobil.

Attendees will hear from women already working the industry about actual job experiences, how to best prepare for these careers, what training is required, and how to network with other women while on the job.

The conference will include lunch and feature exhibits by area companies. Women will be given time to ask questions, network with women and industry representatives, and make “real connections” with educators, including opportunities to enroll in upcoming classes.

A morning track will provide important information about petrochemical and industrial trades career fields — and how capable, motivated women are finding success in a once male-dominated profession.

An afternoon track will help show women already employed in the industry to “take the next step” on the career ladder, and how to make networking a valuable ally.

Scheduled breaks during the day will provide opportunities for participants to meet industry representatives from companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron Phillips, Covestro, Noltex, Jacobs, and others.

The day will end with “how to make it happen” sessions where women can learn about financial aid, child care, fast track courses, certificate and associate degree programs at the area’s nine community colleges.

Cost for the daylong event is $20 for students and $40 for professionals. Some scholarships are available.

Learn more about Women in Industry at www.womeninpetrochemconference.eventbrite.com or contact Kelly Dando, CCPI grant coordinator, at 281.425.6221, or kdando@lee.edu.

Fast-track healthcare programs prepare students for careers in 6-9 weeks

BAYTOWN, TX – As an instructor for the Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) course offered by the Lee College Center for Workforce and Community Development, Valencia Davis draws on decades of experience to prepare students to launch a new and rewarding healthcare career in 6 short weeks.

Her real-world insights make class content more relevant to students — all of whom have successfully passed the state CNA certification exam after completing the program, enabling them to work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other facilities.

“The CNA course is really the entry level for the nursing field,” said Davis, a licensed vocational nurse who continues to practice while teaching at Lee College. “We focus on the fundamentals, like learning about body systems, how to obtain vital signs and how to assist someone who has lost the physical ability to do basic things for themselves. If you want to be exposed to the nursing career, this is a great way to start.”

The Lee College workforce center is now enrolling students in CNA and other non-credit programs that provide a fast track to careers in the growing healthcare industry. Registration is also open for Certified Medical Assistant, which begins this month, and Dental Assisting and Phlebotomy, which will begin in March. Dates are being finalized for the Electrocardiogram (EKG) Technician program and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program, pending state approval.

Programs are available in both traditional and online formats, and take just 6-9 weeks to complete. Additional information about costs, requirements and curricula is available via the Center for Workforce and Community Development at 281.425.6311 or www.lee.edu/workforce.

Davis finds that many students she encounters are attracted to the healthcare industry for the same reason that motivated her to pursue nursing: the desire to make a difference in the lives of others by helping them maintain their dignity, morale and positivity despite illness or disability.

“I love the enthusiasm of the students,” Davis said. “Many finish the CNA course and want to advance their education and careers even further. It opens up a world they hadn’t thought about and that, to me, speaks volumes.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.