Texas Tribune panel discusses higher education enrollment at Odessa College

Citing a important drop statewide in student enrollment in larger training institutions, Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith led off a paneled discussion Thursday at Odessa College sharing how 3 West Texas education leaders were picked not due to the fact their respective establishments mirror the statewide decline, but fairly because their institutions are observing boosts in student populations opposite to the statewide development.

Joining Smith in the discussion bundled Greg Williams, president of Odessa University Sandra Woodley, president of the College of Texas Permian Basin and Scott Muri, superintendent of the Ector County Independent College District.

Environment the phase for the dialogue, Smith shared statewide stats on pupil larger training enrollment, highlighting how the point out has witnessed just above a 13 % drop in local community college enrollment and a 4 percent fall in major 4-yr establishments.

Having said that, the efficiency in West Texas institutions do not mirror this drop.

“The information in this location is really improved than the news in Texas in the primary,” stated Smith, incorporating “and part of the cause we required to come listed here is not for the reason that you’re emblematic of the decline, but mainly because apparently a thing is working here that is not operating elsewhere.”

Woodley described how UTPB skilled about a 5 per cent improve in student enrollment during the onset of the pandemic, and whilst she states very last 12 months the faculty lost all-around 375 college students, this calendar year UTPB officials are seeing an upswing of about 11 per cent enrollment. Woodley accredits a 5-12 months hard work to entice individuals to show up at, the new Falcon Free of charge Software, wherever college students with confined loved ones means can get their tuition paid out for, and other outreach applications.

Shifting to Williams, Smith pointed out how local community schools historically symbolize the majority of the bigger training populace in the condition and opened the flooring to Williams to describe how Odessa College or university is managing to “cut towards the grain” by seeing significant pupil advancement.

Williams stated when he began at Odessa Higher education, the institution experienced 4,000 learners, and the faculty has observed report development just about every calendar year, like through the pandemic, and broke 8,000 students for the 1st time this previous tumble.

Williams spelled out that in 2011 Odessa Higher education experienced a “defunding scare,” and college leaders made a decision at that time they would never continue to be in a place to depend fully on the legislature for funding.

Questioned about the college or university-heading tradition before the pandemic as opposed to right now, Muri reported the tradition was on the increase which he attributed to the collaboration with the other establishment leaders on the panel.

Muri went on to point out that ECISD officials determined that at minimum 70% of their pupils need to have one of four varieties of write-up-secondary qualifications, which include a diploma, technological licensing or armed service encounter.

Muri extra that the vital to achieving that 70% objective is creating a tradition within just the college student populations that glance towards put up-secondary schooling plans. He defined that in partnering with both equally neighborhood bigger education establishments learners at the district could turn into a component of these establishments by-twin credit rating and enrollment chances.

Smith cited a range of figures on article-secondary instruction in Texas among the youthful older people, including how Texas is only second to California in grown ups ages 24 to 35 that do not have at the very least an associate diploma.

Woodley dealt with these statistics concentrating on the underperformance in West Texas by citing the have to have in the developing strength field for a workforce that involves a better-degree of instruction and skillsets.

Smith then shifted the dialogue again to the Texas Legislature, prefacing his up coming concern to the schooling leaders by mentioning current steps by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in producing the Senate Larger Education Committee a subcommittee, mentioning Patrick’s fascination in ending school tenure, and then asking whether they felt that the legislature understands the relevance of higher training and regardless of whether the legislature “respects” it.

Williams responded by declaring he does not know how the legislature feels but that his job is to make an impression on the legislature when focusing on their college students.



  • Smith shared how in a past conversation with state Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland) that Craddick shared how when he first arrived to the legislature in 1969 school finance was a prime challenge. Rapid forward many years and the issue is continue to some thing the legislature has still to remedy, Smith mentioned.
  • Woodley shared how UTPB navigated the pandemic by flipping to electronic mastering really quickly. Williams said the pandemic ultimately manufactured OC much better and spelled out how they saved faculty coming to function and transitioned as quite a few pupils as doable to digital studying.
  • Requested to discover any one particular policy that the legislature could place into position to remedy the difficulty that Texas does not have a sturdy higher education culture, Woodley stated the challenge will come again to funding and that the legislature should make absolutely sure the formulas, which include all those for K by 12 schools, are completely funded to hold instruction inexpensive.
  • The dialogue is out there to check out on desire at texastribune.org/situations.