Students benefit from use of three new buildings, which helps accommodate growth
The 2011–12 school year was a landmark one for Lone Star College–Tomball with the opening of three new buildings and continued enrollment growth. Looking to the start of the 2012-13 year on Aug. 27, LSC-Tomball will be continuing and debuting a number of new programs aimed at student success.
“I’m proud of the amazing amount of accomplishments our college has been able to make with opening three new buildings and dealing with reduced funding, but still getting the job done,” LSC-Tomball President Susan Karr said.
To better inform the community of the strides the college has taken, Karr will be releasing an annual report to the community for the first time in mid-August.
In the 2011-12 school year, LSC-Tomball unveiled three new buildings: the Performing Arts Center, the Veterinary Technology Building and the Health Sciences Building.
“All three of these new facilities had truly world-class instructional technology and space—everything from the way the classrooms were designed to the new equipment that went with the buildings to increased space,” Karr said.
Karr said the extra space has been especially beneficial to the drama and health sciences departments, which continue to grow.
The new Health Science Building, which is located adjacent to Tomball Regional Medical Center, has increased the strong partnership the college has with the hospital, according to Karr.
“Being across the street from one of our major clinical providers provides increased professional development opportunities,” she said. “We like to involve them as much as possible because they help make our clinical a reality.”
In turn, employees at TRMC are also able to use the building’s nursing simulation lab for continued learning.
As with the entire Lone Star College System, LSC-Tomball continued to see its enrollment grow with a 12 percent increase in students in 2011-12. Across LSCS, the average age of students rose from 24 years old in the spring of 2010 to 27 years old in the spring of 2011.
“Adult learners are flocking to community colleges because they see it as the shortest path back to the job they lost,” LSCS Chancellor Richard Carpenter said. “Our average age has gone up because we’re getting more nontraditional adult students who are turning to us to help get them back into the workforce.”
While LSCS became the fastest growing community college in the U.S. last year, it was also the first year in the history of Texas community colleges that the legislature provided no funding for growth, Carpenter said.
“We’ve had to work more efficiently to make existing funds go farther, engaged in more partnerships and focused on getting more grants that helps us deal with the growth to stay on top of our mission of open access and serving as many students as possible,” Karr said.
Despite declining funding, LSC-Tomball introduced a number of new programs in 2011-12 and has plans for more in the coming year.
In fall 2011, the college created a new assistive technology lab for students and employees with disabilities or additional academic needs. The lab provides facilities to assist with various technological services such as Braille embossing and textbook conversions and has listening devices, screen enlargers, CCTVs and video phones, according to Nicole Finkbeiner, executive director of college relations.
“We have at least 700 students with disabilities, and the lab was extremely popular since the first moment it opened its doors,” Karr said. “We had some of the technology, but we didn’t have it all in one place. If you’re disabled, it’s better to have one access point.”
LSC-Tomball also started an iClassroom in the fall of 2011, which houses 30 iPads for students and 10 for faculty.
“Applications are utilized on the iPads that allow faculty and students to connect to each other and to collaboratively explore an endless variety of educational topics,” Finkbeiner said.
For fall 2012, the college will debut a language and cultural lab that will focus on foreign languages as well as broadening students’ multi-cultural experiences, Karr said.
“It will feature language software that students can use to enhance their classroom experience,” she said. “From that center, we will have cultural events to help round students out, so we’re very proud of that.”