Texas Tribune panel discusses higher education enrollment at Odessa College

Citing a sizeable fall statewide in scholar enrollment in bigger schooling institutions, Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith led off a paneled dialogue Thursday at Odessa Higher education sharing how 3 West Texas education and learning leaders ended up selected not because their respective institutions reflect the statewide decline, but rather due to the fact their establishments are looking at increases in college student populations opposite to the statewide trend.

Becoming a member of Smith in the discussion involved Greg Williams, president of Odessa Faculty Sandra Woodley, president of the College of Texas Permian Basin and Scott Muri, superintendent of the Ector County Impartial Faculty District.

Placing the stage for the dialogue, Smith shared statewide studies on university student greater schooling enrollment, highlighting how the condition has found just around a 13 percent fall in group college enrollment and a 4 percent drop in principal 4-12 months establishments.

Even so, the general performance in West Texas establishments do not mirror this drop.

“The news in this region is in fact far better than the information in Texas in the primary,” said Smith, introducing “and portion of the cause we wished to appear below is not mainly because you are emblematic of the decrease, but because apparently anything is functioning in this article that is not functioning somewhere else.”

Woodley described how UTPB expert about a 5 percent enhance in pupil enrollment through the onset of the pandemic, and when she claims very last yr the college lost around 375 college students, this yr UTPB officers are observing an upswing of about 11 % enrollment. Woodley accredits a 5-year exertion to entice men and women to go to, the new Falcon Totally free Method, where college students with limited relatives methods can get their tuition paid for, and other outreach applications.

Shifting to Williams, Smith pointed out how group colleges traditionally symbolize the greater part of the higher education population in the point out and opened the floor to Williams to demonstrate how Odessa Higher education is taking care of to “cut from the grain” by observing substantial scholar development.

Williams explained when he started off at Odessa College or university, the institution experienced 4,000 pupils, and the college has noticed history development just about every calendar year, including for the duration of the pandemic, and broke 8,000 college students for the very first time this past fall.

Williams defined that in 2011 Odessa University experienced a “defunding scare,” and college leaders made the decision at that time they would hardly ever continue being in a placement to depend entirely on the legislature for funding.

Questioned about the school-going tradition right before the pandemic compared to these days, Muri explained the culture was on the rise which he attributed to the collaboration with the other establishment leaders on the panel.

Muri went on to point out that ECISD officers decided that at least 70% of their college students have to have to have 1 of 4 kinds of article-secondary qualifications, which includes a degree, complex licensing or military practical experience.

Muri extra that the vital to achieving that 70% purpose is developing a society in the student populations that seem towards publish-secondary schooling targets. He discussed that in partnering with equally area increased instruction institutions learners at the district could grow to be a element of all those institutions by way of-dual credit rating and enrollment possibilities.

Smith cited a assortment of figures on put up-secondary schooling in Texas between youthful older people, like how Texas is only next to California in adults ages 24 to 35 that do not have at minimum an affiliate diploma.

Woodley tackled these studies focusing on the underperformance in West Texas by citing the need in the increasing strength industry for a workforce that involves a larger-amount of training and skillsets.

Smith then shifted the dialogue back to the Texas Legislature, prefacing his upcoming concern to the instruction leaders by mentioning current steps by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in generating the Senate Bigger Education Committee a subcommittee, mentioning Patrick’s interest in ending faculty tenure, and then asking no matter if they felt that the legislature understands the value of larger education and learning and irrespective of whether the legislature “respects” it.

Williams responded by stating he doesn’t know how the legislature feels but that his occupation is to make an impression on the legislature though concentrating on their pupils.



  • Smith shared how in a earlier discussion with state Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland) that Craddick shared how when he to start with came to the legislature in 1969 faculty finance was a leading situation. Speedy forward many years and the issue is nonetheless a little something the legislature has still to clear up, Smith mentioned.
  • Woodley shared how UTPB navigated the pandemic by flipping to digital studying quite speedily. Williams reported the pandemic in the end designed OC better and explained how they kept faculty coming to function and transitioned as several college students as possible to virtual mastering.
  • Asked to determine any a person policy that the legislature could set into place to clear up the dilemma that Texas does not have a strong college tradition, Woodley claimed the problem arrives back to funding and that the legislature should make guaranteed the formulation, which includes individuals for K by way of 12 colleges, are fully funded to preserve education and learning affordable.
  • The discussion is out there to check out on desire at texastribune.org/gatherings.