Texas Tech, El Centro College Establish Partnership, Receive $4.9 Million Grant

A $4.9 million grant over two years from the U.S. Department of Education will establish a new partnership to provide new degree and career opportunities for underrepresented students.

El Centro College (ECC) in Dallas and Texas Tech University have received a $4.9 million grantover 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-America 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 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 under represented."    The project was funded at the beginning of October.   For more information, contact Paton, in the Texas Tech Office of the Provost at (806) 742-2184.