New contract OK’d for COM president

April 1st, 2019

COM Board of Trustees Chairman Kyle Dickson, left, congratulates COM President Dr. Warren Nichols after the board approved a new contract for Nichols.

College of the Mainland President Dr. Warren Nichols has much to smile about these days.

After getting a 67 percent approval of the college’s fall bond referendum, the COM Board of Trustees unanimously approved a new contract for him.

Nichols, who became president of the Texas City community college in February 2017, had one year left on his three-year contract, but following the trustees’ vote, his new contract now extends through 2022 and provides for an automatic renewal on an annual basis unless terminated by either party.

Trustees voted 5-0 to extend Nichols’ contract. Trustees Rachel Delgado and Alan Waters was absent.

“Under his leadership, Dr. Nichols is taking College of the Mainland to the next level. He has implemented initiatives aimed at student success, seen a rise in student growth and directed much needed maintenance projects on the campus,” COM Board of Trustees Chairman Kyle Dickson said.

Although not present for Monday’s meeting, Delgado, who served on the search committee that hired Nichols, said she agreed with the new contract.

“I support Dr. Nichols’ contract and thank him for the turnaround he has overseen at the college.  It has been everything I was hoping for,” she said.

After several failed bond referendums, Nichols was instrumental in meeting with community members and sharing the college’s goals and visions which led to the overwhelming approval of a $162.5 million bond package, Dickson said.

The landscape of the college is changing under Nichols’ direction.

With voters in the COM Taxing District approving the bond referendum in November, architects now are putting the final touches on plans for a new STEAM/Allied Health Building and a Student Success Center to replace the current Administration Building. Both buildings should be completed by January 2021 followed by the construction of a new Industrial Careers Building.

“I am excited to see COM grow and serve our community,” Nichols said. “More and more students and families are finding College of the Mainland to be an affordable option when obtaining a college degree or workforce certificate. With the construction of new buildings on campus, we will be able to offer even more options in career opportunities.”

Enrollment at COM continues to increase. For the Spring 2019 semester, more than 6,000 students – a record for COM – registered for classes.

With Nichols’ leadership, there has been a transformation as the college has become a beacon for the entire region when it comes to higher education, continuing education and just resonates “community.”

With an aging campus, Nichols oversaw a $16.2 million maintenance project to rebuild a chemistry lab, replace underground pipes and convert a closed natatorium into a state-of-the-art conference center that is available for community use. A complete renovation of the Student Center also is ongoing.

COM was highlighted at national conferences after it became the first Texas college or university to fully implement a successful corequisite program designed to help underprepared students complete required English and math classes. The success of corequisite has been outstanding. The college also is focused on a Guided Pathways to Success program to help students stay on track to complete their associate degree or workforce certificate.

Other successes include:

  • Increase in number of degrees and certificates awarded by 16 percent
  • Decreased the amount of time for degree completion to 4.5 years
  • Completed Employee Compensation Study
  • Offering multi-year contracts for new, full-time faculty

In January, Nichols was a finalist for Citizen of the Year presented by the Texas City-La Marque Chamber of Commerce and has been honored with the Rising Star award given to emerging leaders.

The college, under Nichols, also continues to meet and improve upon its goals of Student Success, Employee Fulfillment and Exemplary Facilities.

COM students to perform with Texas All State Band

January 15th, 2019

College of the Mainland musicians, Thomas Austin, left, and Austin Kelton have been selected to perform with the Texas Community College Band Directors All-State Jazz Ensemble and Symphonic Band next month.

Two College of the Mainland students will perform with the Texas Community College Band Directors All-State Jazz Ensemble and Symphonic Band next month.

Austin Kelton and Thomas Armstrong, both music majors at the Texas City community college, auditioned and were chosen to play during the Texas Music Educators Conference on Feb. 16 in San Antonio. Armstrong, a clarinetist, is part of the Symphonic Band while Kelton, a trombonist, is part of the Jazz Ensemble for the second year.

“I am really happy for them” said Sparky Koerner, chairman of the Fine Arts Department.

“They both put in lots of practice on the audition music and it has paid off.”

Kelton will rehearse and perform under the direction of Rick Condit, director of the Lamar University Jazz Ensemble, and a former member of the Stan Kenton Orchestra.

“That will be exciting for him, considering that Mr. Condit has an international reputation as a jazz educator and performer,” Koerner said.

Kelton is part of the COM Jazz Ensemble and Concert Band and Armstrong is a member of the COM Concert Band. Both students are from Texas City and were part of the Texas City High School band program.

Being a part of the All-State ensembles has become a tradition at COM with 32 students having performed in the All-State and All-Star jazz and symphonic bands in Texas and around the United States.

COM Foundation honoring three alumni

September 5th, 2018

The College of the Mainland Foundation is honoring three former COM students as this year’s Distinguished Alumni recipients.

The three — Tanya Elise Baker, William McGarvey and Michael Navarro —  are being recognized for outstanding contributions to COM and the community through their professional and personal excellence. The trio will be recognized at the foundation’s gala on Sept. 27.

All three honorees credit College of the Mainland for enabling their careers.

Baker, a communications specialist for the Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University, credits her graphic design degree from College of the Mainland in 2005 for where she is today.

“COM helped my career in so many ways. I was able to select a career in Graphic Design, who knew you could get paid to do something you enjoy doing,” said Baker, who also published the children’s book, “Harvey the Hiccupping Hippopotamus.

For McGarvey, COM was the right choice for him in 1975 because, “I had neither the maturity, money, nor grades to make it at any other college.” McGarvey went on to earn an economics degree from the University of Texas at Austin, a masters in math from the University of Houston and a doctorate in computer information from Nova Southeastern University.

McGarvey worked as a computer programmer at IBM for more than 20 years where he developed code modifications to NASA’s mission control systems to support the military’s use of the space shuttle. He also was an IBM project manager for a $1.2 billion Department of Defense contract. He was inducted into IBM’s Golden Circle, an award reserved for the company’s highest performing employees, in 1997.

Navarro credits COM professors for being instrumental in helping him realize the career path he wanted to pursue and for referring him to his first full-time job. Like Baker, he also received a COM degree in graphic design in 2005. Navarro is director of business operations for Logical Innovations and also owns Manticore Media, LLC, a graphics arts and digital media production company.

The three honorees also have sage advice for current COM students.

Baker: “College of the Mainland has many great opportunities; do whatever you want to do, but complete your degree. There’s nothing like getting paid to do the work you enjoy.

McGarvey: “Don’t stop until you graduate.  Once you leave college, it is hard to go back again.

Navarro: “The rewards you get out of your education are directly proportionate to the efforts you put into your education.”

The COM Foundation Gala is set for Thursday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Doyle Convention Center in Texas City. For more information about the gala, visit www.com.edu/giving/galatickets.  Individual tickets are $125.

COM leases space to train workers for job opportunities

January 9th, 2018

College of the Mainland trustees have approved a one-year, $54,264 lease with the Community Family Center to house COM’s new Construction Trade Center at 2000 Texas Ave. in Texas City and offer area workers more job opportunities.

The Trades Center will occupy 9,044-sq. ft. of the 60,000-plus center to provide Hurricane Harvey Fast-Track Training Courses through funding provided by the Texas Workforce Commission.

The college will offer short non-credit classes to train workers for construction trades positions, now in high demand following Hurricane Harvey. The courses will benefit anyone who wants a working knowledge of home reconstruction.

Most courses are approved by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), a non-profit organization encourages standardized skills and credentialing in more than 70 craft areas. Programs are scheduled to begin in January, and include a variety of carpentry, drywall, basic interior finishing, painting, masonry, heating and air conditioning and plumbing courses.

Students will learn basic hand and power tools, and receive the safety credential OSHA 10 upon completion. The Community Family Center includes several state and local agencies and a clinic operated by UTMB.

“The purpose of the center is to help families get back on their feet,” said Lynda Perez, executive director of Mainland Community Partnership, which operates the center. “Agencies here provide financial, medical, family and counseling support,” Perez said. “The job training being offered by College of the Mainland fits very well with our mission.”

Laura Baumgartner, COM’s director of CE Industrial Workforce Programs, explained that classes offered at the center are win-win- win for individuals, the community and the college. “After Harvey, these entry-level skills are now in great demand,” Baumgartner said. “Students who complete these short programs — which last three weeks — will improve their opportunities for employment. That’s good for students, the community, and COM.”

COM moving forward and looking to the future

July 10th, 2017

The College of the Mainland Board of Trustees gather for a photo with their president. They are, from left front row, Melissa Skipworth, Rosalie Kettler and Bennie Matthews; back row, President Warren Nichols, Kyle Dickson, Alan Waters, Don Gartman and Rachel Delgado.

Last week trustees and administrators of College of the Mainland fleshed out long-term plans for the future—one that includes modernizing current facilities and building new ones, and making an education at the 50-year-old college more accessible in days to come.

“It’s a new day for College of the Mainland,” said President Warren Nichols, who joined the college in February. “Our June 30 retreat showed that this board is engaged and working proactively to move College of the Mainland into a bright future.”

Part of that vision includes COM’s part in implementing the state of Texas’ 60×30 higher education plan, that, if successful, will help 60-percent of all Texans between 25 and 34 years of age attain a certificate or degree by 2030. The president’s goals were four months in the making and addressed three areas – student success, employees and facilities

“Student success is our top priority,” Dr. Nichols said, as he outlined his goal to grow the college’s enrollment of full-time students to 4,000 by 2025. While COM’s student headcount is more than 3,900 students, its full-time students number 2,778, since more than 70-percent of its students attend part time.

Dr. Nichols also gave trustees a plan to double the number of annual degrees and certificates awarded to COM students by 2025. His agenda includes decreasing the number of years it takes for students to complete a degree by lowering the average number of credits students take while pursuing their degree from an average of 101 semester hours to 70.

Perhaps no topic received more interest than a plan to expand and enhance the college’s aging facilities while addressing the workforce needs of business and industry in the region. “Improving our facilities to serve our workforce needs is critical to the future and economic well-being of our communities,” Nichols said.

The president presented an aggressive plan to begin now, rather than later, to transform the campus by using a 2015 master plan as the foundation.  Renovations, infrastructure repairs and facility upgrades will be funded by a revenue/maintenance bond that will not impact taxpayers. Included in the list of renovations is modernizing a 50-year-old chemistry lab into a state-of-the art learning facility.

Also included are repairs to the façade of the student center, theater renovations, and roof replacements. The board reviewed each of 13 projects and indicated that they felt positive about the direction that college is taking. Another goal discussed with trustees is to create a college environment that attracts administrators, faculty and staff serving COM students.

COM’s current brand and communication plans will get a facelift, as well. Trustees reviewed a new look for publications and new communication vehicles rolled out by the college’s Marketing and Communications Office.

Those plans include a community newsletter to better inform every community resident, to be mailed into homes at least three times a year, as well as a workforce magazine, Career Focus, which will provide information about high demand careers in the area and the training COM provides for these careers.

The productive half-day retreat wrapped up with the board discussing committee assignments, as well as the recent approval of officers. 

Leading the COM Board of Trustees for the next two years are Kyle Dickson, chair, Alan Waters, vice-chair, and Rosalie Kettler, secretary. Don Gartman is chairing the Building and Grounds Committee, Rachel Delgado is chairing the Finance/Audit Committee while Bennie Matthews is chairing the Human Resources Committee. The Policy Committee is being chaired by Rosalie Kettler.

Celebrating 50 years of student success, College of the Mainland offers a variety of fully accredited associate degrees and certifications. Fall registration is now open. The college prepares students to meet their goals, whether transferring to a university or entering the workforce. An Achieving the Dream Leader College, COM has an excellent professor-to-student ratio that allows instructors to connect with each class. COM is the launch pad for success throughout the Mainland. For more, visit www.com.edu.

COM launches honors classes

August 17th, 2016

logoStudents will pretend to fill the role of Supreme Court justices, “campaign” for a political candidate or investigate who first discovered America during honors government or history courses this fall at College of the Mainland.

Students who complete the new courses Honors Federal Government and Honors U.S. History 1301 will challenge themselves to delve deeper into subjects and receive honors designations on their course transcripts.

U.S. History will discuss America’s beginnings, the first colonists, the American Revolution and the Civil War.

“To take the course, students just need a willingness to be challenged more. History not only is a look not only into the past but also the future,” said Dr. Cody Smith, who teaches honors U.S. history. “Students will read more books, and we will have more roundtable discussions comparing them and talking about students’ perspectives. I want to introduce them to issues that aren’t black and white.”

Through media review and group projects, honors government students will dig into elections, the Supreme Court, politics and bias.

“The subject matter covered will be the same as in a regular government class, but students will be able to explore the subject more deeply through additional projects, papers, presentations or other group work,” said Dr. Samuel Layton, honors government professor.

If students complete honors courses and meet additional requirements (such as community service), they can be recognized as a COM scholar at graduation. Drager Landry graduated as the first COM scholar in spring 2016.

For more information, visit www.com.edu/register or email slayton@com.edu or csmith55@com.edu.

Celebrating 50 years of student success, College of the Mainland offers a variety of fully accredited associate degrees and certifications. The college prepares students to meet their goals, whether transferring to a university or entering the workforce. An Achieving the Dream Leader College, COM has an excellent professor-to-student ratio that allows instructors to connect with each class. We’re the launchpad for success stories throughout the Mainland. For more, visit www.com.edu.