Texas Tribune panel discusses higher education enrollment at Odessa College

Cortez Deacetis

Citing a substantial drop statewide in scholar enrollment in better schooling establishments, Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith led off a paneled dialogue Thursday at Odessa College sharing how a few West Texas education and learning leaders were picked not mainly because their respective institutions reflect the statewide decrease, but instead simply because their establishments are observing boosts in student populations opposite to the statewide development.

Becoming a member of Smith in the discussion incorporated Greg Williams, president of Odessa College or university Sandra Woodley, president of the College of Texas Permian Basin and Scott Muri, superintendent of the Ector County Unbiased College District.

Environment the phase for the dialogue, Smith shared statewide stats on scholar higher education and learning enrollment, highlighting how the point out has seen just in excess of a 13 percent fall in group higher education enrollment and a 4 p.c fall in main 4-calendar year establishments.

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

“The information in this area is in fact better than the information in Texas in the major,” mentioned Smith, adding “and element of the cause we required to come listed here is not for the reason that you are emblematic of the drop, but simply because evidently some thing is doing work right here that is not doing the job somewhere else.”

Woodley described how UTPB knowledgeable about a 5 per cent enhance in student enrollment throughout the onset of the pandemic, and though she says very last yr the school dropped around 375 learners, this 12 months UTPB officials are looking at an upswing of about 11 per cent enrollment. Woodley accredits a 5-year hard work to entice folks to go to, the new Falcon Absolutely free Plan, in which college students with confined spouse and children assets can get their tuition paid for, and other outreach packages.

Shifting to Williams, Smith pointed out how group colleges traditionally depict the greater part of the higher education and learning population in the point out and opened the floor to Williams to make clear how Odessa School is running to “cut in opposition to the grain” by observing high scholar growth.

Williams explained when he started out at Odessa University, the institution had 4,000 students, and the higher education has observed record expansion every single year, including during the pandemic, and broke 8,000 pupils for the initial time this earlier fall.

Williams stated that in 2011 Odessa University had a “defunding scare,” and school leaders made the decision at that time they would never continue being in a situation to depend solely on the legislature for funding.

Questioned about the school-going lifestyle prior to the pandemic vs . nowadays, Muri said the culture was on the rise which he attributed to the collaboration with the other institution leaders on the panel.

Muri went on to state that ECISD officers established that at least 70% of their learners need to have to have a person of four varieties of article-secondary credentials, like a diploma, technological licensing or military services knowledge.

Muri extra that the essential to reaching that 70% objective is making a culture in the scholar populations that search towards publish-secondary training goals. He discussed that in partnering with each regional better schooling institutions students at the district could turn out to be a component of all those establishments by means of-dual credit history and enrollment prospects.

Smith cited a assortment of data on write-up-secondary instruction in Texas between youthful grown ups, like how Texas is only second to California in grown ups ages 24 to 35 that do not have at the very least an affiliate diploma.

Woodley addressed these studies focusing on the underperformance in West Texas by citing the will need in the growing vitality sector for a workforce that requires a bigger-degree of schooling and skillsets.

Smith then shifted the discussion again to the Texas Legislature, prefacing his next concern to the instruction leaders by mentioning latest steps by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in making the Senate Higher Education and learning Committee a subcommittee, mentioning Patrick’s fascination in ending college tenure, and then asking no matter if they felt that the legislature understands the great importance of bigger instruction and irrespective of whether the legislature “respects” it.

Williams responded by saying he does not know how the legislature feels but that his work is to make an impact on the legislature though focusing on their pupils.



  • Smith shared how in a past dialogue with state Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland) that Craddick shared how when he to start with arrived to the legislature in 1969 university finance was a best issue. Quickly forward many years and the difficulty is nonetheless a little something the legislature has yet to fix, Smith observed.
  • Woodley shared how UTPB navigated the pandemic by flipping to electronic understanding quite rapidly. Williams mentioned the pandemic in the end produced OC improved and spelled out how they kept college coming to function and transitioned as numerous college students as possible to virtual mastering.
  • Asked to determine any one coverage that the legislature could place into spot to clear up the difficulty that Texas does not have a sturdy faculty lifestyle, Woodley stated the concern will come back again to funding and that the legislature really should make positive the formulation, which includes those for K through 12 educational facilities, are absolutely funded to keep instruction very affordable.
  • The conversation is accessible to watch on demand from customers at texastribune.org/situations.
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