Speeches & Presentations
Thursday, October 5, 2017
Thank you, Board Chairman Moser.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is our privilege to be here today to honor the Brazos County community, The Texas A&M System, and Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp for their incredible support for the Blinn College District.
These partnerships have deep ties, as Blinn College rapidly approaches 50 years of educational service in Bryan/College Station, dating back to 1970, when Allen Academy closed its junior college division.
At that time, Texas A&M, Bryan ISD, and College Station ISD invited Blinn to provide affordable freshman- and sophomore-level courses for students in Brazos County.
Texas A&M President Earl Rudder had a single stipulation, asking that Blinn maintain its open admissions policy.
47 years later, Blinn College continues to honor that promise.
In the Fall of 1970, Blinn began offering night classes at Allen Academy and A&M Consolidated High School, enrolling 236 students.
As enrollment grew, Blinn moved into the Kraft Building in downtown Bryan in 1972 and began to offer day classes.
By the time Blinn expanded to the Woodstone Shopping Center in College Station in 1982, it enrolled 1,771 students.
Expansion continued in 1989, when Blinn moved to the Townshire Shopping Center in Bryan and added the former Bryan Post office to house workforce training courses.
In 1997, Blinn College moved to its current Bryan Campus at the corner of Villa Maria Road and East 29th Street, where it opened with an enrollment of 7,013 students.
By 2000, Blinn had built two more buildings on the campus, and in 2001, Blinn purchased the Schulman 6 Theaters and College Park Center properties.
By 2004, Blinn added a 9th building to its Bryan Campus to serve a student population of 10,452.
In 2012, Blinn moved its health science programs to the Texas A&M Health Science Center Campus, a facility that includes a 26,000-square-foot Simulation Center, where vocational and associate degree nursing, emergency medical services, fire science, physical therapist assistant, radiologic technology, and surgical technology students gain hands-on experience through clinical simulations.
These expansion projects led to 2016, when Chancellor John Sharp and The Texas A&M System invited Blinn College to locate its next campus at RELLIS.
Scheduled to open for the Fall 2018 semester, students who attend the RELLIS Campus will have a seamless pathway to the Texas A&M System university of their choice.
Thanks to the leadership and commitment of many in this room, last March Blinn College celebrated the groundbreaking of a 4-story, 83,000-square-foot academic facility that will serve as many as 2,500 students.
In almost a half-century of service to Brazos County, this represents Blinn’s most ambitious partnership with The Texas A&M System, but it is by no means the first.
Since 2001, Blinn and Texas A&M have partnered to offer the Texas A&M-Blinn TEAM Program, a collaborative co-enrollment partnership that allows hundreds of additional students to enter the Texas A&M freshman class.
In 2014, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board awarded the program its coveted Star Award as one of the top educational initiatives in the State of Texas.
Using the TEAM Program as a model, Blinn built upon that success with the Texas A&M Engineering Academy at Blinn, which allows high-achieving engineering students to co-enroll at Blinn College and the Texas A&M College of Engineering.
Engineering Academy students take their Texas A&M engineering courses on the Texas A&M campus, and their math and science courses at the Blinn-Bryan Campus.
Students who successfully complete the program transfer to a degree-granting major within the Texas A&M College of Engineering.
In addition to their co-enrollment partnerships, Blinn and Texas A&M University have built a number of programmatic partnerships.
For example, students in Blinn College’s Veterinary Technology Program gain hands-on experience at Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, where they engage in hands-on activities alongside A&M veterinary students.
Blinn Fire Science students benefit from a unique partnership between the College and the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service that allows Blinn students to conduct hands-on training at Brayton Fire Training Field, the world’s foremost firefighter training facility.
For years now, these partnerships have helped to make Blinn College students better academic transfer candidates, and better professionals in the workforce.
They demonstrate the collaboration and student-driven vision that define our relationship with this community and with The Texas A&M University System.
Not surprisingly, these values reflect those of Chancellor John Sharp.
As Chancellor Sharp approaches 6 years of service at the helm of The Texas A&M University System, he has overseen an increase of almost 30,000 students system-wide, to nearly 150,000 across its 11 universities.
Chancellor Sharp has overseen remarkable facilities growth, and led the development of new academic opportunities through the Chancellor’s Research Initiative, the Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Study Faculty Fellows Program, the 25 by 25 initiative to increase engineering enrollment to 25,000 students by 2025, the EnMed Program, and, of course, the RELLIS Campus.
Since I first began working with The Texas A&M System at RELLIS, I have found Chancellor Sharp to be a man of singular intelligence and determination, whose vision has set the tone for a program that will transform RELLIS into a global model for 21st-century higher education.
Through his leadership, and that of his incredible team, RELLIS was transformed from an idea to a groundbreaking in less than a year.
In less than two, that vision will transform a RELLIS into a bustling hub for research, testing, and education, with even more students – and achievements – to come.
Chancellor Sharp, thank you for inviting Blinn College to play a part in this incredible adventure, as we reimagine the transfer experience and the possibilities available to Texas students.
Of course, none of this would be possible without your talented leadership team. I would like to take a moment to thank each of them, particularly:
These individuals been incredible partners throughout the past year, and we look forward to building upon that success in the months and years to come.
I also would like to thank the Blinn College Board of Trustees for their leadership in guiding Blinn College toward an unprecedented future.
As we look forward to welcoming students to the RELLIS Campus in less than 11 months, we know that this transformative project marks an historic milestone in the history of Blinn’s service to its students, in its service to the community, and in its relationship with The Texas A&M System.
With that in mind, we want to take this opportunity to simply and gratefully thank Brazos County, The Texas A&M System, and Chancellor John Sharp for playing such vital roles in Blinn College’s tradition of excellence.
As we prepare to welcome a new campus in August 2018, your friendship and support will be the cornerstone for a bright new legacy of student success and community pride.
At this time, I would like to invite each of you to enjoy your lunch.
As you eat, please enjoy the music of accompanist Cheryl Amelang on the piano, and a rotating slideshow of images depicting Blinn College programs, students, and accomplishments on the screen behind me.
Our program will resume in 25 minutes.
Mary Hensley, Ed.D.
Chancellor of Blinn College
Special Assistant to the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees
Assistant to the Chancellor of Blinn College