The Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership (BAHEP) honored San Jacinto College Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer with the prestigious Quasar Award for Economic Development Excellence Friday night during an awards dinner at South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center.
“As San Jacinto College heads into the next decade, we will continue to provide students and the community with evolving, innovative, and necessary programs and services that meet the region’s needs.”
The Quasar Award is presented annually to an outstanding elected official or business leader who has demonstrated a strong, continual effort to support the business foundations of the greater Bay Area Houston communities.
“While the Quasar plaque has my name on it, this is really for the San Jacinto College community,” said Hellyer. “The work at San Jacinto College is accomplished by an amazing team of employees. The success of San Jacinto College is due to a strong and visionary Board of Trustees who establish the strategic goals for the College and are focused on the success of our students.”
Hellyer was named the fifth chancellor of San Jacinto College in May 2009. Throughout the last decade she has worked with the Board of Trustees and College employees to create transformational change at the College, resulting in a more than 106 percent increase in the number of certificates and degrees awarded, a nearly 20 percent increase in enrollment, and a national top 10 community college recognition from the Aspen Institute.
As part of that change, San Jacinto College has enhanced the student experience and improved educational accessibility. When the new Generation Park Campus opens this fall – the fifth campus for the College – it will complete the construction of 16 new facilities over the last decade. Additional facilities have also been renovated during that time, all to meet the needs of today’s students. Among those buildings are the Maritime Technology and Training Center, which opened in March 2016; the LyondellBasell Center for Petrochemical, Energy, & Technology, which opened in September 2019; the EDGE Center at the Houston Spaceport, which opened in January 2020; and the new Generation Park Campus, which will open fall 2020.
“Dr. Hellyer is a shining example of excellence that the Quasar Award exemplifies,” said Bob Mitchell, BAHEP president, during his remarks at the award dinner. “She has taken San Jacinto College into the 21st century with the addition of programs that are essential to building and maintaining the skilled workforce that is fundamental to the economic well being of the region.”
In addition to adding and renovating facilities over the last decade, San Jacinto College has made significant changes to help students finish what they start. The College transitioned to a simplified tuition model, which eliminates registration fees and adopts a standard per-credit-hour rate that allows for up-front budgeting and cost transparency to help students plan their expenses without additional unexpected financial obstacles. The College also implemented Open Books, an open educational resource program that provides students access to free or low-cost textbooks and digital course materials that has saved students more than $6.5 million in textbook costs over three years. This fall, the College will begin offering the Bachelor of Science in nursing, a program designed for registered nurses with an associate degree who are currently working in the field.
The College has implemented many additional support programs and initiatives during the
last 10 years as well, such as campus food pantries and a free campus café voucher system to help alleviate students’ food insecurities, a coat closet, assistance with immunizations, and more. These resources help students overcome some of the obstacles associated with pursuing a higher education credential which allows them to focus on classroom learning and course work.
“As San Jacinto College heads into the next decade, we will continue to provide students and the community with evolving, innovative, and necessary programs and services that meet the region’s needs,” concluded Hellyer. “Working alongside organizations such as the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, we know we can help grow the economy in our region and provide our partners with the talented and skilled workforce they need for decades to come.”
United States Congressman Dr. Brian Babin, representing Texas’ 36th Congressional District, issued a statement and recognized Chancellor Hellyer from the House Floor. In his remarks, which were published in the Congressional record on Jan. 16, he said in part, “I rise today to congratulate an exceptional educator, San Jacinto College Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer, on receiving the prestigious Quasar Award for Economic Development Excellence from the Bay Area Houston Partnership (BAHEP). After becoming Chancellor of San Jacinto College in May 2009, Dr. Hellyer led a rigorous strategic planning process to transform the image of the college. These efforts have transformed San Jacinto College into a modern community college, offering students education in collaborative classrooms and hands-on training with equipment they will encounter as they move into the workforce. Madam Speaker, I thank Dr. Hellyer for her dedication as Chancellor of San Jacinto College, and for her outstanding community engagement in the greater Bay Area.”
Recent Quasar Award recipients include Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush (2019), Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (2018), Senator Larry Taylor (2017), Clear Creek ISD Superintendent Dr. Greg Smith (2016), Dr. William “Bill “ Merrell (2015), and University of Houston Chancellor Dr. Renu Khator (2014).
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 served the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. The College is fiscally sound, holding bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. San Jacinto College is a 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Top 10 institution, a 2017 Aspen Prize Rising Star Award recipient, and an Achieving the Dream Leader College. The College serves approximately 45,000 credit and non-credit students annually, and offers eight areas of study that put students on a path to transfer to four-year institutions or enter the workforce. San Jacinto College’s impact on the region totals $1.3 billion in added income, which supports 13,044 jobs.