Texas Tribune panel discusses higher education enrollment at Odessa College

ByElizabeth J. Bohn

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Citing a major fall statewide in university student enrollment in bigger training establishments, Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith led off a paneled dialogue Thursday at Odessa School sharing how three West Texas education and learning leaders have been picked not mainly because their respective establishments reflect the statewide decrease, but alternatively mainly because their establishments are viewing will increase in pupil populations contrary to the statewide craze.

Signing up for Smith in the discussion provided Greg Williams, president of Odessa Higher education Sandra Woodley, president of the College of Texas Permian Basin and Scott Muri, superintendent of the Ector County Impartial School District.

Location the stage for the dialogue, Smith shared statewide stats on college student increased training enrollment, highlighting how the state has observed just around a 13 % fall in neighborhood school enrollment and a 4 % fall in key 4-12 months establishments.

Nonetheless, the general performance in West Texas institutions do not reflect this drop.

“The news in this region is actually improved than the information in Texas in the major,” mentioned Smith, incorporating “and element of the rationale we preferred to come here is not mainly because you’re emblematic of the drop, but simply because seemingly some thing is operating below that is not functioning in other places.”

Woodley described how UTPB expert about a 5 % boost in college student enrollment during the onset of the pandemic, and while she says previous calendar year the school shed all around 375 students, this calendar year UTPB officers are observing an upswing of about 11 percent enrollment. Woodley accredits a 5-year exertion to entice individuals to go to, the new Falcon Cost-free Software, exactly where pupils with constrained loved ones assets can get their tuition paid out for, and other outreach systems.

Shifting to Williams, Smith pointed out how community colleges historically characterize the vast majority of the better schooling inhabitants in the state and opened the ground to Williams to demonstrate how Odessa School is handling to “cut versus the grain” by looking at high student advancement.

Williams mentioned when he started off at Odessa College or university, the institution had 4,000 pupils, and the university has witnessed report advancement each and every yr, like for the duration of the pandemic, and broke 8,000 pupils for the to start with time this previous drop.

Williams defined that in 2011 Odessa School experienced a “defunding scare,” and college leaders made a decision at that time they would never ever remain in a placement to depend completely on the legislature for funding.

Requested about the faculty-likely culture right before the pandemic vs . nowadays, Muri claimed the society was on the rise which he attributed to the collaboration with the other institution leaders on the panel.

Muri went on to point out that ECISD officers established that at minimum 70% of their college students will need to have one of 4 types of put up-secondary qualifications, such as a degree, technical licensing or navy encounter.

Muri included that the key to reaching that 70% purpose is generating a tradition inside the university student populations that glimpse toward write-up-secondary education and learning goals. He explained that in partnering with equally community bigger education institutions students at the district could grow to be a portion of all those institutions through-twin credit rating and enrollment alternatives.

Smith cited a wide variety of figures on put up-secondary education in Texas amid youthful older people, such as how Texas is only 2nd to California in grownups ages 24 to 35 that do not have at the very least an associate degree.

Woodley resolved these figures focusing on the underperformance in West Texas by citing the have to have in the expanding energy sector for a workforce that demands a greater-level of schooling and skillsets.

Smith then shifted the discussion back again to the Texas Legislature, prefacing his upcoming issue to the education and learning leaders by mentioning the latest steps by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in creating the Senate Greater Schooling Committee a subcommittee, mentioning Patrick’s curiosity in ending college tenure, and then inquiring whether they felt that the legislature understands the worth of better schooling and no matter whether the legislature “respects” it.

Williams responded by stating he does not know how the legislature feels but that his position is to make an impression on the legislature although concentrating on their learners.



  • Smith shared how in a past discussion with state Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland) that Craddick shared how when he very first arrived to the legislature in 1969 faculty finance was a top rated challenge. Rapidly forward many years and the concern is still anything the legislature has still to fix, Smith famous.
  • Woodley shared how UTPB navigated the pandemic by flipping to digital discovering incredibly swiftly. Williams mentioned the pandemic finally built OC improved and explained how they saved school coming to work and transitioned as quite a few college students as feasible to digital mastering.
  • Questioned to establish any 1 plan that the legislature could place into position to solve the issue that Texas does not have a sturdy higher education tradition, Woodley said the challenge comes again to funding and that the legislature need to make confident the formulas, such as those for K via 12 faculties, are totally funded to retain education and learning affordable.
  • The discussion is accessible to watch on demand from customers at texastribune.org/events.


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