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Blinn board declines proposed amendments to House Bill 1903

Trustees question need for legislative oversight given Blinn’s commitment to serving Brazos County

April 7, 2015

The Blinn College Board of Trustees has declined a proposed amendment to House Bill 1903 that would have removed decision-making responsibilities from locally-elected officials and awarded further oversight to state legislators in Austin.

According to the proposed modifications, House Bill 1903 would have applied to state funding beginning Sept. 1, 2016. Beginning Sept. 1, 2017, fully proportionate funding would have gone into effect, legislating Blinn’s distribution of state funding and tuition and fees.

The proposed modifications were presented to the board following a Friday meeting between State Rep. John Raney, who introduced the bill, and Blinn officials.

Douglas Borchardt, board president, cited Texas Education Code Section 51.352(a), which states that a board “is expected to preserve institutional independence and defend its right to manage its own affairs through its chosen administrators and employees,” and Texas Education Code 51.352(e), which states that the board has the legal power and duty to manage the institution’s funds.

“I find myself saying no to supporting a compromise that has the potential for many unforeseen consequences, singles out Blinn College and forces Blinn College to handle its financial matters pursuant to legislative oversight,” Borchardt said. “Why is legislation needed when we have demonstrated by our actions that we are addressing the very concerns that have been voiced as the reason for needing the bills?”

During its March 24 meeting, Blinn’s board voted to submit modifications to the bill, allocating only state appropriations according to campus contact hours and postponing the effective date until September 2017. Raney declined those suggested modifications on March 25.

Regardless of the results of the pending legislation, Blinn’s board has tasked College administrators with making the Brenham campus profitable, especially as profits from the Bryan campus will be required for debt service as the College develops a second Bryan campus to meet the demands of historic enrollment growth in Brazos County.

During her testimony before the Texas House of Representatives Higher Education Committee last month, Carolyn D. Miller, trustee, said Blinn’s board recognizes the need for focused attention to the operation of the College’s individual campuses and identified a district-wide action plan that included:

  • Determining proper allocation of shared or district-wide services to all campuses (academic technology, finance, human resources, enrollment services, purchasing, administration, marketing, etc.)
  • Investment in financial software to improve allocations and reporting.
  • Assessment of programs at each campus to evaluate the contribution to student success.
  • Strategically growing enrollment on all four campuses in Brenham, Bryan, Schulenburg and Sealy.

 

Blinn registered 19,317 students for the recent Fall semester, an increase of 4.9 percent over last year and the highest total in the College’s 131-year history. The Bryan campus alone saw 6.4 percent growth as enrollment climbed to 12,771.

In February 2014, a nationally-recognized master planning firm specializing in higher education presented Blinn’s board its projections for future growth and offered recommendations for accommodating that growth.

Since that presentation, Blinn has begun a $10 million renovation project on its Bryan campus located on Villa Maria Road and announced the $3.8 million purchase of 95 acres at F.M. 2818 and Leonard Road in Bryan. The new campus will be developed into a 10,000–15,000 student campus and will allow Blinn to develop additional science, technology, engineering and mathematics offerings and expand its workforce, technical, research and health-related education programs.

Blinn anticipates breaking ground on the property this year with the goal of hosting classes as early as 2017.

Blinn is unique among community colleges in attracting students from across the state and nation. Blinn students came from 1,533 zip codes in Fall 2013, drawn by Blinn’s academic transfer rate – more than 20 percent higher than the state average – and the College’s unique partnerships with Texas A&M University, which include the Texas A&M Blinn TEAM (Transfer Enrollment at A&M) Program and the Texas A&M Engineering Academy at Blinn.

About Blinn College
Founded in 1883, Blinn is a comprehensive community college committed to educational excellence and to individual and community enhancement. With an enrollment of 19,317 students, Blinn ranks among the nation’s leaders in transferring students to leading four-year universities and has received national recognition for its affordable educational excellence.

As part of its commitment to student success, Blinn is implementing a Quality Enhancement Plan titled “Destination Success: First-Year Focus,” which utilizes learning communities to support first-year college students.

For enrollment information and to learn about financial aid opportunities, visit: www.blinn.edu.