Lee College chapter of the Webb Historical Society named best in Texas for 2016

The Lee College chapter of the Walter Prescott Webb Historical Society has been named 2016 Chapter of the Year by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) for showing outstanding commitment and outreach within the community.

Named for a distinguished University of Texas historian and former TSHA director, the Webb Society works through college and university history departments to encourage students to discover, research, write and publish the history of Texas as they find it where they live. Chapter activities focus on local, community and regional history.

TSHA presents two Chapter of the Year Awards each year: one for a university, and one for a junior or community college. The 2016 award is the third time the Lee College Webb Society has taken top community college honors in the state.

For more information about the Lee College chapter of the Walter Prescott Webb Historical Society, contact adviser Portia Hopkins at phopkins@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.

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.

Lee wins national student success award

Lee College has earned national recognition from the American Association of Community Colleges for its work to engage the entire campus and community in creating a college-going culture that ensures a successful student experience from high school through higher education.

Posed shot of administration, regents and awards
Lee College Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown, the Board of Regents and cabinet-level administrators celebrated winning the 2015 AACC Award of Excellence for Student Success at the regular board meeting held Thursday, April 30, 2015.

The association announced Lee College the winner of the 2015 Award of Excellence for Student Success Monday, April 20, at its annual awards gala in San Antonio. The coveted award honors the American community college that has best demonstrated — through evidence — a sustained commitment to student success, and proactively advances that cause.

“Lee College is focused on enhancing the learning, participation and success of our students,” said Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown. “We believe in providing support to students from connection to graduation, then on to the workforce in the career of their choice, or to a four-year institution. It is exciting to see the hard work and commitment of our outstanding faculty, staff, Board of Regents and community honored by the American Association of Community Colleges on a national level.”

The Student Success to the Core approach at Lee College is focused on involving all influencers in the process of helping students make a seamless transition into higher education. Dr. Christy Ponce, Vice President for Student Success, Workforce and Resource Development, said student success has been an institution-wide effort to support students from entry to completion of their chosen degree or certificate.

“It has been incredible to see every department get involved in some way: hosting students on campus to preview academic and technical programs; hosting STEM and family events; promoting fast-track training programs; offering scholarships, internships, and industry mentor opportunities; and helping students one-on-one through each of the enrollment steps,” Ponce said. “The dedicated individuals at Lee College have all come together in a big way to support student access, retention, and completion and are working to eliminate student barriers.”

High school and college counselors and faculty collaborate to align curricula to reduce the need for developmental coursework and increase student success in college classes. Students work with peer mentors and have the opportunity to take dual-credit courses while still in high school. Parents are offered resources that strengthen the at-home support system, like the free and bilingual Parent College 101. Parents surveyed about their participation called the program helpful and highly informative.

“This national award for Student Success is a testament to the great work going on at Lee College, from the main campus and McNair Center in Baytown, to the centers in Huntsville and Liberty, and all of our dual-credit sites,” Ponce said. “The college is scaling successful efforts and leading new regional initiatives on STEM and workforce, and is committed to helping each of our students be successful in reaching their educational goals.”

Business and industry partners, as well as non-profit organizations and local government and community volunteers, participate in the “Cradle to Career” network. There are also enhanced science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs, scholarships and paid internships. DeDe Griffith, director of Student Success, noted the national champion Lee College Debate Team, award-winning Honors Program and organizations like Phi Theta Kappa as proof the student-centered approach has merit.

“Working collaboratively, students, faculty, staff and administrators are breaking down silos for the greater outcomes for students,” Griffith said. “Every day there are examples of faculty, staff and administrators demonstrating a commitment beyond their general duties to help students complete their degree or certificate. It is all about forming meaningful relationships — internally and externally, but most importantly with students.”

The American Association of Community Colleges also praised the Gulf Coast Partners Achieving Student Success (GCPASS) Program, a partnership between Lee College and the Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District for which the college was awarded the prestigious 2014 Texas Higher Education Star Award. Through GCPASS, the college provides comprehensive off-site enrollment services at no charge to seniors at each of the 11 high schools in its service area.

“GCPASS has been an integral part of eliminating student barriers and fears about higher education,” Brown said. “While other Texas schools have experienced enrollment declines, GCPASS has helped us increase enrollment — in part by attracting and supporting students who might not otherwise have gone to college.”

Lee College was also one of four national finalists for the 2015 Award of Excellence in the Exemplary Board/CEO category in recognition of the working relationship between Brown and the Board of Regents in college governance.

Debate team national champs again

For the second straight year, the Lee College Debate Team capped off a record-setting season by earning a trio of national championship titles: the 2014-2015 International Public Debate Association (IPDA) Season-Long Community College Champions, the 2015 IPDA National Championship Tournament Community College Champions, and the 2014-2015 Team IPDA Squad National Championship.

Debate team posing with awards Members of the Lee College Debate Team after the 2015 IPDA National Championship Tournament in Boise, Idaho. Pictured (l-r): front row – Cody Bijou (captain), Reagan Dobbs (captain); second row – Joselyn Mendoza, Shawn Start, Emily Trevino, Rigo Ruiz; back row – Himmler Assing, Dax Ramgoolam, Brandon Reinertsen, Kyle Diamond.

Lee College is the only two-year institution in the IPDA to repeat as national champions and the only two-year institution to win season-long and tournament titles in the same year — beating opponents from elite college and university debate teams from around the world.

In total, Lee College debaters won more than 150 awards and honors over the course of the competition season and finished as the top-ranked program in Texas within a field that included Texas State, Texas Christian University, Stephen F. Austin and East Texas Baptist universities, among others.

“What began in 2013 as a simple idea and a couple of enthusiastic students has grown into back-to-back National Championships and a dozen dedicated debaters,” said Joe Ganakos, head coach. “They’ve proven themselves to be exceptional ambassadors for Lee College, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the best and brightest university students in the nation.”

The team success was augmented by outstanding individual performances. The duo of Team Captains Cody Bijou and Reagan Dobbs captured the 2014-2015 Team IPDA National Championship. Captain-elect Kyle Diamond won the 2014-2015 Varsity Division Championship at the IPDA national tournament in Boise, Idaho, and was also honored as a tournament double octo-finalist. Dobbs was both the Varsity Division runner-up and third-place speaker, and Bijou finished the tournament in third place in the Varsity Division, as the fourth-place speaker and as an octo-finalist.

In the Novice Division, Dax Ramgoolam was the 2015 IPDA National Championship Tournament runner-up and captain-elect Rigo Ruiz finished as the season-long runner-up. Ruiz was also the second-place novice debate speaker at the national tournament and a novice double octo-finalist, while Joselyn Mendoza finished in eighth place in the season-long Novice Division standings.

The Debate Team will return to competition in September at The Mendoza Debates at Lee College to kick off the 2015-2016 IPDA season. Lee College will also host the 2016 IPDA National Championship Tournament next April. For more information about the Lee College debate program, contact Ganakos at 281.425.6502 or jganakos@lee.edu.

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.

Lee College wins three NCMPR awards

Lee College’s Office of College Relations won three Medallion Awards at the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR) District 4 Conference, held in Little Rock, Ark.

The awards recognize outstanding achievement in communications at community and technical colleges, and the competition is the only one of its kind honoring excellence exclusively among marketing and PR professionals at two-year colleges.

The college won two gold awards in the Foundation/Annual Report and Newsletter categories, as well as a silver award in the Electronic Media/Website category.

NCMPR District 4 includes community colleges in six states: Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming.