Texas higher education officials visit TJC

Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund A. Paredes and Assistant Commissioner for Academic Quality and Workforce Rex Peebles visited TJC last week.

They met with TJC students, faculty and administrators to discuss topics related to student success in East Texas.

Paredes and Peebles have been making the rounds to college and university campuses across the state, to hear firsthand about the challenges students face as well as their stories of success.

“They were looking for common themes in the institutions they go to, so they can go back and make policy based on that and bring evidence to their peers,” Justin Crowe, a sophomore chemistry major from Jacksonville, said. “They told us that at every institution they’ve visited, academic advising was an aspect that was mentioned as needing attention in some way. For instance, a lot of people get advised by their department chair or a professor rather than an academic advisor.”

Crowe gave a specific example of a friend who is a dental hygiene major and how speaking with a dental hygiene professor or department chair helped him figure out that one of the classes in his degree plan could be replaced with another core class that he had already taken, which saved him time and money.

“So, I guess the idea is that there needs to be more of a dialogue between department chairs and the advisors,” Crowe said.

“It was truly a pleasure to meet with Drs. Paredes and Peebles,” said Jeanie Oxler, TJC music department chair and voice professor. “They were very interested in the faculty perspective on issues that affect higher education, especially at TJC. We discussed dual credit, fields of study, and ways to focus on areas which are in the best interest of students, such as advising and office hours. It is wonderful to know that our state officials care about what we are doing at TJC.”

In 2015, Texas launched 60x30TX, the state’s higher education strategic plan which aims to position Texas among the highest achieving states in the country and maintain its global competitiveness.

60x30TX is entirely student centered, with an overarching goal that 60 percent of young adults ages 25-34 in Texas earn some type of postsecondary credential by the year 2030.

Additionally, the 60x30 plan proposes:
• At least 550,000 students in 2030 will complete a certificate, associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree from a Texas institution of higher education.
• Graduates will have identifiable marketable skills, regardless of major. 
• Students statewide will not graduate with debt exceeding 60 percent of their first-year wages.

The mission of the THECB is to provide leadership and coordination for Texas higher education and to promote access, affordability, quality, success, and cost efficiency through 60x30TX, resulting in a globally competitive workforce that positions Texas as an international leader.

“We are very proud of our students and faculty, and we appreciate Dr. Paredes and Dr. Peebles for visiting TJC,” said Dr. Juan E. Mejia, TJC president for branch locations and district provost. “Providing our teams with the opportunity to meet with them personally will create additional momentum toward our agenda for community and student success.”

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