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For immediate release — Jan. 31, 2020
DALLAS — In order to remove barriers to student success, the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) has begun the process of merging its seven colleges into one institution — a momentous step in a 54-year history that has seen the growth of a sprawling educational and community resource that now serves more than 84,000 students annually across the county.
Since last year, the district has been determining what organizational and structural changes will be required for this transition, which is being done for several important reasons that the district has carefully studied. First and foremost, merging will allow more students to graduate on time and at reduced cost, while shortening the time it takes for them to earn a degree or certificate. The “One College” model will also allow students to take multiple classes at more than one location.
“With this undertaking, we’re laying the groundwork for DCCCD for the next 50 years,” said Dr. Joe May, DCCCD’s chancellor. “Together, we will continue to transform lives and communities in Dallas County as we embark on this next chapter in the district’s history.”
The impetus for the change came about when district officials learned that nearly 1,300 students were unable to receive degrees because they had not acquired enough credits at one college — but had credits from several colleges that could not effectively be combined for a degree.
With the seven DCCCD colleges operating as separate institutions, current accreditation rules require a student to earn at least 25% of their credits from one institution. As a single institution going forward, however, students will graduate from one unified institution rather than by accumulating credits at several schools that may not have led to a degree.
“We have a unique opportunity to transform the DCCCD into one college that better serves the 21st century needs of students, business and industry,” said DCCCD Board of Trustees Chair Diana Flores. “The restructuring of DCCCD will go far in producing better outcomes for students and other stakeholders. We are excited to be on the cusp of changes that will help us better fulfill our mission to transform lives and communities through higher education.”
The move to one college — which will include a name change — kicks off in March when the district will send a “substantive change application” to its accrediting body — the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges or SACSCOC. SACS will decide on the district’s application in June and then follow up on compliance as a single entity during a site visit in the fall, at which point the district must demonstrate standardized processes across campuses. The result will be a more consistent and seamless experience for students across the district.
“Accreditation will be determined through a single lens of one institution rather than the current seven individually accredited colleges, making consolidation an integral piece of the accreditation process — and risking nonaccreditation if we don’t change,” Dr. May said. “What consolidation means more broadly for our institutional identity, current branding, certificates and degrees, and building signage among many, many other things, is wholesale change.”
At a meeting earlier this month, the board supported a redesign of the district’s academic offerings using a schools-based approach, informed by DCCCD’s already-established Guided Pathways. Under this new structure, seven schools will be created. While they have yet to be finalized, the tentative names for the schools are:
“Shifting to a structure based on schools that span the entire district is a much-needed change that helps faculty teach to the future,” Carlos Martinez, DCCCD Faculty Association president, said of the move. “By adopting this approach, faculty within and across disciplines will achieve synergies that not only make us more effective in our day-to-day instructional roles but also in planning curricula that are uniform districtwide — ultimately to the benefit of our students.”
DCCCD is one of the largest college systems in Texas, offering dual credit for students in partner high schools and early colleges throughout Dallas County. Founded in 1965 as the Dallas County Junior College District, DCCCD has built a stronger workforce in Dallas County while addressing issues such as gaps in teacher education and child development to allied health. In recent years, DCCCD has started working earlier in the high school-to-college pipeline by partnering with 14 Texas Education Agency-designated Early College High Schools and dozens of Pathways to Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH) that aim to bring promising secondary and junior high-level students into the district’s career-oriented pathways. All colleges in the DCCCD system — Brookhaven, Cedar Valley, Eastfield, El Centro, Mountain View, North Lake and Richland — also offer online learning.
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