San Jacinto College welcomes higher education commissioner

Jan 22, 2020Courtney Morris

San Jacinto College welcomed newly appointed Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Harrison Keller during a whirlwind visit Jan. 17.

Keller took the helm of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in October 2019. He joined College Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer, members of the Board of Trustees and Strategic Leadership Team, and Texas Association of Community Colleges President Jacob Fraire for a private luncheon at the LyondellBasell Center for Petrochemical, Energy, & Technology.

San Jacinto College officials shared the College's history, achievements, and priorities and learned about the commissioner's vision for higher education in Texas.

Hellyer highlighted board initiatives to reduce costs for students and increase their chances for lifelong success — such as the Open Books program that has eliminated $6.5 million in textbook costs to date and a simplified tuition model that creates one tuition rate based on residency. She also described major achievements in the past five years, including the Maritime Technology and Training Center, the EDGE Center for aerospace training, a coming Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, and CPET, the Gulf Coast region's largest petrochemical training facility.

In the 2018-2019 academic year, San Jacinto College awarded 7,654 associate degrees and certificates, and in fall 2019, enrollment reached 32,485 students. When asked about completion intensity, Hellyer explained that the 168% increase in awards over the last 11 years correlates with about a 20% increase in enrollment. This has resulted from the College's focus on credential completion, university transfer, and workforce preparation.

"It was an honor to share with Commissioner Keller the incredible work happening at San Jacinto College by our faculty, staff, and students," Hellyer said. "We are excited about his vision for higher education in Texas and look forward to working together to better the higher education landscape across the state."

A sixth-generation Texan, Keller has more than 20 years of experience in higher education partnerships, budget, policy, and administration. Before THECB, he most recently served at The University of Texas at Austin as the deputy to the president for strategy and policy and as a professor of practice.

We look forward to working together to better the higher education landscape across the state.
Dr. Brenda Hellyer
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