Pam Boehm mug

Editor’s note: Dr. Pam Boehm and Dr. Ken Shaw with Southwestern Adventist University will each provide an opinion column once a month. Shaw’s first column will appear March 26.

In a world that moves at such rapid speed, today’s colleges often struggle to have their voices heard in an overcrowded, attention-demanding economy. How do we stand out among all the noise? Thanks to a wonderful relationship between Cleburne Times-Review and Hill College, our story can have an even greater voice, and is one that needs to be shared. What hopes to be the first of many articles, I am excited to keep our stakeholders informed of the exciting and innovative things that YOUR community college is doing.

My vision, from the start of my presidency, has been to grow Hill College to be the “College of Choice,” showcasing Hill College as a unique and innovative institution of teaching and learning while promoting student success throughout our 3,000 square mile service area of Johnson, Hill, Somervell and Bosque counties.  

To be the “College of Choice,” requires thoughtful consideration and intentional commitment to be relevant and offer something unique. At Hill College, this means to give students the best experience possible with educational excellence, cost-saving affordability and personal service that enhances their experience and ensures success.

In our effort to remain relevant to our community and to continue offering new high-demand, high-wage programs, partnering with business and industry is at the forefront. This begins with a strong partnership with North Central Texas Workforce Solutions to ensure that the programs being planned for the area are those in high demand. Secondly, our relationship with business and industry is central in determining local needs and assistance with curriculum development. Such is our partnership with the Cleburne Industrial Alliance in the development of a new Industrial Maintenance Technician program. Upon completion of the program, students are afforded local opportunities for employment within the Johnson County area. Just launched this spring was the RV Technician program in partnership with Fun Town RV. Through programs like this, Hill College has developed a number of industry partners including; Snap-On, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Lincoln Welders, TRANE HVAC and CHI.

Relevance to the community can also be seen in how Hill College has embraced the Texas Pathways Project which is focused on building capacity for community colleges to design and implement structured academic and career pathways. Hill College is actively engaged in meeting with all of our ISD and four-year university partners to align programs and services for high school degree programs, college meta-majors, and efficient transfer for students. This single-system approach is about improving our shared students’ experiences. Our work together is proving to make education more accessible and affordable. The Pathways Project allows us to create career clusters that will help lead students to a rewarding future.

Pathways through our dual-credit program, which is celebrating enrollment of over 1,400 students, allow students to earn college and high school credit at the same time. Courses for dual credit may be taught at one of the college campuses, at the high school or online.

Hill College offers something for everyone, pathways from dual credit to an associate’s degree or a pathway for students desiring to transfer to a university. Hill College articulates with universities such as Stephen F. Austin State University, UT Dallas, University of North Texas, Southwestern Adventist University, Tarleton State University, Midwestern State University, Sam Houston State University, Texas Wesleyan University, University of Texas at Arlington, Western Governors University, UT Brownsville, Texas A&M University-Commerce, and mostly recently with Texas Tech University. Through a regional partnership with Texas Tech University two bachelor’s degrees are being offered — one in Human Sciences and the other in Applied Arts and Science in Leadership at the Hill College Johnson County Campus in Cleburne.

Relevance to our stakeholders includes remaining current with legislation. The Texas Association of Community Colleges began working on the 85th legislative platform and developed a clear message that says “community colleges are the most efficient and affordable” opportunity available to meet the state’s new Higher Education Strategic Plan 60x30TX.

As we showcase student success, just this month at the Texas Junior College Student Government Association conference students and staff were elected and recognized for the region. Hill College students, David Marsh, a liberal arts major from Burleson, was elected as the 2017-18 treasurer and Isabel Coolidge, a liberal arts major from Rio Vista, was elected Student of the Year. Hill College’s Johnson County Campus Dean of Students Bill Gilker was elected SGA Advisor of the Year.

Although unique and innovative programs and services are at the forefront, remaining affordable and accessible are at the heart of our mission. With the generosity of local foundations providing scholarship funds, students have the opportunity to acquire the first two years of a four-year degree at Hill College while staying close to home. Area citizens have the opportunity to help local students with scholarships by attending the annual Boots & Suits Gala to be held at 6 p.m. March 24 at the Cleburne Conference Center.

The college has worked hard in preparation for the event, and this promises to be the best gala yet with even more dancing and fun. The funds raised will support district-wide scholarships, equipment for the Fire Protection Technology program, and capital improvements to the locker rooms in the Bob Bullock Sports Center. I invite the Johnson County citizens to join us for a time of fun and fellowship.

Pam Boehm, Ed.D., is president of Hill College.

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