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Blinn district president/CEO speaks to state policymakers regarding the value of Texas community colleges

Dr. Mary Hensley outlines the structure of the state’s community college system

February 15, 2016

Dr. Mary HensleyBlinn College’s top administrator spoke before the Texas House of Representatives Committee on Higher Education Thursday about the key role community colleges play in meeting the demand for higher education and strengthening the state’s workforce.

Dr. Mary Hensley, district president/CEO, was one of three community college presidents invited to speak at the hearing, alongside Dr. Betty McCrohan, president of Wharton County Junior College, and Dr. Brent Wallace, president of North Central Texas College.

Hensley told the committee that while Blinn has the state’s highest academic transfer rate at 42.9 percent, it faces challenges in expanding services across its 13-county service area while drawing tax revenue from one county – Washington County.

The committee was presented with a map indicating that only 66 of the state’s 254 counties pay taxes to support community colleges – even as Texas community colleges are tasked with providing services for the entire state.

This challenge is even greater for select community colleges that attract students from across the state. Seventy-four percent of Blinn students come from outside its service area, and a Fall 2014 study found that Blinn students come from 1,533 zip codes across the state and nation. While Bryan-College Station is the most populated region within Blinn’s service area, only 18 percent of Blinn students come from Brazos County.

“Each community college district has developed its own plan to meet the varied demands of its service area, affording them the flexibility they need to meet local needs with local solutions,” Hensley said.

Hensley noted that community colleges have seen a 74 percent enrollment increase in the past 15 years and that 52 percent of all students currently enrolled in public higher education attend a community college.

“To maintain and build upon this success, community colleges look forward to working alongside policy makers to ensure a bright future for Texas students, businesses and communities,” she said.

Hensley thanked Rep. John Raney, a member of the Higher Education Committee, and recognized Rep. Cecil Bell, Rep. Kyle Kacal, Rep. Leighton Schubert, Sen. Lois Kolkhorst and Sen. Charles Schwertner for their support of Blinn College and Texas community colleges.