Texas Tribune panel discusses higher education enrollment at Odessa College


Citing a considerable fall statewide in student enrollment in higher training establishments, Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith led off a paneled discussion Thursday at Odessa College sharing how three West Texas education leaders had been chosen not mainly because their respective institutions mirror the statewide decrease, but rather simply because their institutions are seeing boosts in college student populations opposite to the statewide development.

Signing up for Smith in the discussion included Greg Williams, president of Odessa College Sandra Woodley, president of the University of Texas Permian Basin and Scott Muri, superintendent of the Ector County Independent Faculty District.

Setting the phase for the dialogue, Smith shared statewide stats on student better schooling enrollment, highlighting how the state has found just above a 13 p.c fall in neighborhood college or university enrollment and a 4 p.c fall in key 4-year establishments.

Having said that, the general performance in West Texas institutions do not reflect this drop.

“The information in this region is really greater than the news in Texas in the main,” said Smith, incorporating “and element of the motive we desired to come in this article is not mainly because you’re emblematic of the drop, but because evidently a thing is working in this article that is not doing the job elsewhere.”

Woodley described how UTPB experienced about a 5 p.c improve in college student enrollment in the course of the onset of the pandemic, and though she says previous 12 months the school missing close to 375 students, this year UTPB officials are observing an upswing of about 11 % enrollment. Woodley accredits a 5-calendar year hard work to entice men and women to attend, the new Falcon Cost-free Plan, in which college students with confined spouse and children resources can get their tuition paid out for, and other outreach applications.

Shifting to Williams, Smith pointed out how community schools historically depict the the greater part of the better training population in the point out and opened the flooring to Williams to make clear how Odessa Higher education is taking care of to “cut towards the grain” by observing superior university student expansion.

Williams mentioned when he started out at Odessa College or university, the institution experienced 4,000 learners, and the higher education has found record expansion each 12 months, together with for the duration of the pandemic, and broke 8,000 learners for the to start with time this previous fall.

Williams described that in 2011 Odessa Faculty experienced a “defunding scare,” and university leaders determined at that time they would hardly ever continue to be in a place to depend fully on the legislature for funding.

Questioned about the higher education-heading society in advance of the pandemic as opposed to today, Muri stated the society was on the increase which he attributed to the collaboration with the other establishment leaders on the panel.

Muri went on to state that ECISD officials decided that at least 70% of their learners require to have a person of 4 types of write-up-secondary qualifications, together with a diploma, specialized licensing or military services working experience.

Muri extra that the essential to reaching that 70% target is building a society within the pupil populations that glimpse toward post-secondary schooling goals. He explained that in partnering with each community higher education institutions students at the district could grow to be a portion of all those establishments by way of-dual credit score and enrollment possibilities.

Smith cited a range of figures on post-secondary education in Texas between younger adults, together with how Texas is only 2nd to California in adults ages 24 to 35 that do not have at the very least an associate diploma.

Woodley addressed these studies concentrating on the underperformance in West Texas by citing the want in the increasing electrical power sector for a workforce that requires a higher-degree of schooling and skillsets.

Smith then shifted the conversation again to the Texas Legislature, prefacing his future dilemma to the schooling leaders by mentioning the latest steps by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in earning the Senate Larger Schooling Committee a subcommittee, mentioning Patrick’s curiosity in ending faculty tenure, and then inquiring whether they felt that the legislature understands the importance of increased training and no matter if the legislature “respects” it.

Williams responded by stating he does not know how the legislature feels but that his occupation is to make an impact on the legislature whilst focusing on their students.



  • Smith shared how in a earlier conversation with state Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland) that Craddick shared how when he very first arrived to the legislature in 1969 college finance was a prime difficulty. Speedy ahead decades and the issue is nevertheless something the legislature has however to solve, Smith pointed out.
  • Woodley shared how UTPB navigated the pandemic by flipping to digital discovering extremely promptly. Williams said the pandemic in the end produced OC better and described how they stored college coming to work and transitioned as a lot of students as attainable to digital discovering.
  • Asked to identify any a single plan that the legislature could place into position to address the trouble that Texas does not have a sturdy school lifestyle, Woodley mentioned the situation arrives again to funding and that the legislature should really make positive the formulation, together with these for K as a result of 12 colleges, are absolutely funded to hold schooling affordable.
  • The discussion is obtainable to see on demand at texastribune.org/gatherings.


Resource url