El Centro College (ECC)
Back Row (L-R): David Browning, Paul McCarthy, Toni Pendergrass, Tom Arsuffi, David
Rodriguez, Lenora Mathis, John Zak, Charles Hedrick ,Pyeper Wilkins, Lisa Theriot,
Betty Moran, Donna Strain, Valerie Paton, Dana Smith.
in Dallas and Texas Tech University have received a $4.9 million grant over two
years from the U.S. Department of Education
to establish a new partnership that will provide degree and career opportunities
in environmental science for educationally underrepresented students.
Texas Tech and ECC will partner with the new Trinity River Audubon Center in Dallas,
which will offer classroom and laboratory space to give students new research and
field experiences. The center connects people of all ages to nature through our conservation
and education programs.
Texas Tech and ECC, which is an urban community college serving a large Hispanic
and African-American student body, will develop transfer agreements so that students
at ECC take courses that specifically apply to science, technology and engineering
fields at Texas Tech. These agreements will ensure that students experience a seamless
transfer from their community college to Texas Tech, lowering the costs for students
pursuing bachelor’s degrees in science and math fields.
“There is a great need in our state for people with degrees in math, science and
engineering,” said Guy Bailey, president of Texas Tech University. “We recognize
that more and more students are beginning their higher education pursuits at community
colleges. This grant will help us smooth the way for them to pursue four-year degrees.”
Valerie Paton, vice provost for planning and assessment, John Zak, chairperson of
the Department of Biological Sciences
and Tom Arsuffi, director of the Llano River Field Station in Junction, worked together
to develop Texas Tech’s portion of the grant application.
“This partnership is a testimony to Texas Tech’s commitment to the state’s increasing
number of transfer students,” Paton said. “This partnership will help Texas Tech
meet our goal attracting more transfer students. We want to remove obstacles and
open access for community college students who want to complete their undergraduate
degrees at Texas Tech.”
David Rodriguez, a Texas Tech post-doctoral student who teaches undergraduate biology,
will serve as the project manager at El Centro College. He is a first-generation
college student, who was raised in Del Rio, attended community college and then transferred
to Texas State in San Marcos for his undergraduate degree. He received his doctorate
in zoology from Texas Tech.
The grant allows ECC and Texas Tech to renovate and expand laboratory space for science
and math students, as well as offer those students new field experiences. Texas Tech
will also aid in strengthening laboratory experiences for students and will develop
biology student field research classes at both the Trinity River Audubon Center and
the Llano River Field Station.
"El Centro is excited to be one of the community colleges nationwide currently partnering
with universities to focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) transfer
opportunities,” said Paul McCarthy, president of El Centro College. “Our close association
with Texas Tech University targets Hispanic and other low income students for careers
in environmental science and other STEM disciplines in which those students are currently