“Since she was appointed Chancellor six years ago, Dr. Hellyer has transformed our College and focused employees on the mission of improving student success,” said Mr. Dan Mims, Chairman of the San Jacinto College Board of Trustees. “As we move students successfully through the education process, and they walk across that stage as college graduates, the community as a whole benefits. Much of that success is due to the transformational leader we have in Dr. Brenda Hellyer.”
Dr. Hellyer began her affiliation with San Jacinto College as a community volunteer. She served on the inaugural Board of Directors of the San Jacinto College Foundation before being named executive director of the Foundation. She went on to become chief financial officer and transitioned into the role of chancellor in May of 2009.
One of her first priorities as chancellor was to work with the Board of Trustees to define the mission, vision, and values of the College. Over the last six years, her leadership has moved the College to an Achieving the Dream Leader College and an institution that has been recognized twice by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program as one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation. However, if you ask Dr. Hellyer about what she is most proud of, she will talk about student success and students completing what they came to San Jacinto College to start.
“Since 2007, we have more than doubled the number of degrees and certificates awarded to our students to more than 5,000 in each of the last three years,” said Dr. Hellyer. “For me, we are here to ensure our students succeed in their higher education pursuits, and move on to further their education or enter the workforce to begin their dream career. I am both honored and humbled to have received this award from the Association of Community College Trustees. It is a true testament to the hard work and dedication of the faculty, staff, administration, and trustees at San Jacinto College.”
Building Relationships Key to Success
Dr. Hellyer has been instrumental in building partnerships in the region. As industry expansion continues to grow along the Texas Gulf Coast, and the need to fill jobs is more demanding than at any other time in the College’s history, Dr. Hellyer has built relationships that have served as a catalyst to define workforce training opportunities and curriculum to meet the workforce demand of the region. She has been influential in ensuring that the nine community colleges in the Gulf Coast region work together to meet the needs of the region’s workforce. Through her efforts, more than $20 million in federal grant funding has come to the Gulf Coast region to help with career training.
“Our partnership with San Jacinto College, under the leadership of Dr. Hellyer, has been vital to the success of our organization’s role in supporting the regional economy and of our various workforce development initiatives over the past couple of years, including the most recent launch of Dream It. Do It. Southeast Texas,” said Chad Burke, President of the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region. “As a member of our Executive Board, Dr. Hellyer contributes her wisdom, business acumen, and passion for the growth of our region in a way that consistently supports the mission of our organization.”
Partnerships with the region’s industry are not the only collaboration efforts Dr. Hellyer has championed. She has worked tirelessly with the independent school districts (ISD) within the San Jacinto College taxing and service areas to expand dual credit options, and create an early college high school program either on a San Jacinto College campus or at the ISD high school campus.
“We have seen tremendous growth in our dual credit and early college high school enrollment,” commented Dr. Hellyer. “This tells me how important a college credential or degree is to students and families in our district, and I am committed to making sure we are helping those students get a head start on college. I love the fact that these students who complete early college high school actually receive their college degree before they earn their high school diploma. What an amazing accomplishment that is!”
“Working with Dr. Hellyer has been a tremendous honor and privilege,” Dr. Kirk Lewis, Pasadena ISD Superintendent of Schools said. “Through her hard work and the support of San Jacinto College, the Pasadena Early College High School program gives our students a leg up when it comes to their futures. Many of the kids in the program are first generation college graduates and they accomplish this feat before gaining their high school diplomas. With community support of our 2014 Bond Election, we are in the process of expanding this program to all five of our high schools. I can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon for these young people’s futures.”
Focus on People
Another area of concentration and importance to Dr. Hellyer is around the nearly 2,000 San Jacinto College employees. In addition to implementing a performance management system for every employee, ensuring that all employees are focused on the San Jacinto College strategic plan and goals, she has made a strong commitment to organizational development. These efforts have helped develop more effective College leaders and provided employees an understanding of the changing demographics of the region.
“Dr. Hellyer has amazing energy and passion,” noted Mr. Mims. “She has led San Jacinto College employees through difficult times, from a cultural change and a recession, to cuts in our budget and state funding, and an extensive reorganization. While leading through such difficulty and change, she has maintained the respect of College employees and community members. She has such a deep sense of community, and she truly cares about the people that live in work in our area, yet manages to keep a keen eye and focus on the success of our students.”
A Champion for Higher Education
Dr. Hellyer is an advocate for higher education and community colleges regionally, statewide, and nationally. She is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges, is active on the Texas Association of Community College (TACC) Executive Board, serves as a TACC Legislative Committee and Student Success Committee member, is statewide chair of the Community College Political Action Committee JACPACC, sits on the Dual Credit Task Force, and serves on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) Continuous Improvement Council.
Regionally, Dr. Hellyer serves on the Greater Houston Partnership Board, is past chair of the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region and the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, and has been actively involved with the Center for Houston’s Future. Through her efforts with these organizations, she has had the opportunity to influence workforce training and build partnerships in the region aligning education, industry, and economic development.
Dr. Hellyer holds a bachelor’s of science degree in accounting from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas; a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas at Austin; and a doctorate degree in community college leadership from the University of Texas at Austin. She received the Distinguished Graduate Award from the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin in spring 2009. She is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in Texas.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.