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Lone Star College celebrates completion initiative

Dr. Richard Carpenter, LSCS chancellor, addresses the group gathered in Austin at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum to celebrate the Texas Completion by Design program.

HOUSTON (June 27, 2011) – Lone Star College System hosted a reception in Austin to celebrate a planning grant for the Texas Completion by Design initiative, a project to recognize community colleges with high completion rates and to replicate their work.

Completion by Design is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The event, held June 8 at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, included state legislators and officials, along with presidents and chancellors from the Texas partner colleges involved with this five-year effort to significantly increase the successful completion rates of community college students in Texas.

Nationally, Lone Star College is one of four colleges to receive a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation after a rigorous application process that began last October at the White House Summit on Community Colleges.

Lone Star College is the managing partner of a Texas alliance selected to receive funding through the Gates Foundation’s national Completion by Design initiative, which is designed to help students finish postsecondary education more quickly and with greater rates of success. LSCS organized the group of high-performing colleges for the “Texas Completion by Design” project that includes Alamo Colleges, Dallas County Community College District, El Paso Community College and South Texas College.  This group represents more than 235,000 students, one third of all community college students in Texas.

Dr. Richard Carpenter, LSCS chancellor, said that the challenge Texas faces being ranked near the bottom of the list of U.S. states for the number of students who complete a college degree, represents an opportunity for the Completion by Design program.

“We’re going to bring Texas to the top of the list in this country and we’re going to be producing the greatest number of successful students, graduating them quicker and getting them to the workplace quicker than anyone else,” Carpenter said. “This project and this cadre working together is going to make that happen.”

The Austin event included representatives from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as a number of state legislators.

State Rep. Dan Branch, chair of the House Higher Education Committee, thanked the Gates Foundation and congratulated the group of Texas colleges as part of his remarks. Initiatives like Texas Completion by Design show that “Texas is serious about completing, not just matriculating,” Branch said.

State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, who sits on the Senate Higher Education Committee, was also in attendance and spoke about the completion agenda for Texas.

“There’s no question that we need to increase graduation rates,” Wentworth said. “It’s one thing to make college available through the Texas Grants program and others like it, but we’ve got to encourage these young people to actually finish college.

“It’s to their advantage, it’s to society’s advantage and it’s to Texas’ advantage,” Wentworth said.

Other state officials taking part in the Austin celebration included Dr. Raymund Paredes, commissioner of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; Dr. Rey Garcia, president and CEO of the Texas Association of Community Colleges; and John Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Communities Foundation of Texas/Texas High School Project. These organizations represented are also partners in the Texas Completion by Design project.

The Texas colleges led by LSCS will work to transform community college policy and student success initiatives for the state. Completion by Design has the potential to significantly redesign higher education across the country and help increase college completion in the U.S.

It is anticipated that all three phases of the Completion by Design project will take approximately five years to complete, starting with a $500,000 planning period – a time for the Texas partner schools to collectively review best practices, create a model pathway to completion and design an implementation plan. If the plan submitted by the Texas group in April 2012 is approved by the foundation, additional funding would be awarded for subsequent phases, including implementation and scaling of the program across other colleges in Texas.

To learn more about Texas Completion by Design, go toTexasCompletion.com

With more than 69,000 students in credit classes for spring 2011, and a total enrollment of more than 85,000, Lone Star College System is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area, and the fastest-growing community college system in Texas. Dr. Richard Carpenter is the chancellor of LSCS, which consists of five colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, and LSC-Tomball, six centers, LSC-University Park, LSC-University Center at Montgomery, LSC-University Center at University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visitLoneStar.edu.