Presented by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Applications for the 2001 Star Awards were submitted by 88 programs, projects, or activities conducted by Texas higher education institutions, and organizations, groups, or individuals focused on education. Nineteen finalists were identified in an initial review, with five finalists selected to receive awards:
Alvin Community College - Hispanic Outreach: Pathways to Education (HOPE)
Several thousand students who participated in this outreach program have pursued higher education. Operated by volunteers with a minimal budget, the HOPE effort encourages Hispanic students to complete public education and pursue higher education. Through the programs, students in grades six through 12 are recognized for perfect attendance, leadership potential, and academic success; parents are involved in their children's pursuit of higher education; and the business community, parents, educational institutions, and community organizations are focused on improving students' educational outlook and opportunities. The program was developed in partnership with the Alvin Independent School District.
Contact: Joan Rossano, (281) 756-3600
Angelo State University - Undergraduate Program in Mathematics
All of the students who completed this program during the last four years passed the secondary mathematics Examination for the Certification of Educators in Texas (ExCET), helping Angelo State University increase its ExCET pass rate from about 69 percent prior to the implementation of the program.
Program strategies include developing a senior-level capstone course; encouraging faculty to increase emphasis on applications and the use of technology; and offering ExCET preparation workshops prior to each administration of the exam. In addition, Angelo State math students seeking teacher certification in math take the same courses as math students who are not seeking teacher certification. The institution's math department has also played a key role in the efforts of the Texas Collaborative for Excellence in Teacher Preparation to obtain a five-year, $5 million grant for improving science and math curricula in teacher preparation programs at participating institutions. Contact: Johnny M. Bailey (915) 942-2111
Cedar Valley College (Dallas County Community College District) - Veterinary Technology Program
All of the students who earned veterinary technology degrees through the program have passed state and national credentialing exams during the past two years, the final step in a seven-year effort marked by steady increases in pass rates. In addition, the program was designated as "exemplary" by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Cedar Valley College's Veterinary Technology Program is one of only five similar programs in the nation, and 390 of its 472 students are enrolled in an innovative and widely acclaimed distance education course of study. The program offers group and individual tutoring to students; an individualized orientation for new freshmen; and a strong placement effort that matches graduates with employers - producing jobs in the discipline for 95 of 102 graduates over the past four years.
Contact: Brian Heim (972) 860-8019
Howard College - If I Had a Hammer
More than 2,640 West Texas fifth-grade students have learned math, reading, basic geometry, history, English, science, social studies, and teamwork through a combination of academic and "hands-on" construction work through this program since it was implemented by Howard College in 1998. Students develop science and math skills through study of If I Had a Hammer workbooks in class prior to visiting the campus. Those lessons then are applied when the students use tools to build an 8-foot-by-11 foot prefabricated house. The program shows students that they need a strong educational foundation to be successful in the future, just as the house needs a strong foundation to be sturdy.
Contact: Amy Burchett (915) 264-5000
Huston-Tillotson College - Educator Preparation Program The Road to Accountability
As a result of this program, 95 percent of the college's new teacher graduates passed the state's Examination for the Certification of Educators in Texas (ExCET) in 2001 - up from 44 percent in 1994. The effort involves collaboration among college faculty, Service Center staff, three public school partners, and external consultants. They focus on admissions, student performance, diagnostic assessment, remediation, curriculum realignment, course redesign, and ExCET preparation. Monitoring student performance, as well as individualized training and tutoring, are key parts of the program. Extensive field-based opportunities for students are important parts of the process, too.
Contact: Judith Loredo (512) 505-3043
Lamar University - Center for General Studies Monitored Probation Program
Student retention rates have increased steadily from just under 64 percent in 1998 to nearly 69 percent in 2001 as a result of the institution's Monitored Probation Program. Described as an "early intervention" approach to provide support services to students placed on academic probation, this program is mandatory for General Studies students with GPAs of less than 2.0. Participating students are provided academic counseling, tutoring, study skills courses, workshops, and supplemental instruction. Student academic progress is monitored, evaluated, and followed through in-person contact and documented academic performance. The program's services are provided through a referral and follow-up process that promotes collaboration among faculty, staff, and administrators to help students achieve and maintain satisfactory academic progress.
Contact: Madelyn Hunt (409) 880-8907
Lamar University - Texas Academy of Leadership in the Humanities
Through this program, students who have completed the 10th grade and have met academic, social, and personal requirements enroll in a Lamar University curriculum. They receive a unique and intensive education in leadership, culminating in a high school diploma and at least 60 hours of college credit. Participating students, who live on campus and receive scholarships, are required to conduct a two-year community service project. Local at-risk elementary schools, family services, museums, hospitals, nursing homes, and retirement homes benefit from the students' work. Although the Academy focuses on the humanities, nearly one-half of its students - who represent the cultural, gender, and economic status of the Texas population - major in science, mathematics, or engineering.
Contact: Mary Gagne (409) 839-2995
Richland College (Dallas County Community College District) - Richland College High School and Community Relations Department
Through a wide range of activities, this department develops educational partnerships and career awareness efforts that link independent school districts, the business community, and community groups to help Richland College respond to community needs. For example, the department's TechknowED Chip Camp Initiative - involving a partnership among Texas Instruments, Richland College, and the Garland, Richardson, and Mesquite Independent School Districts - provides awareness, mentoring, scholarship, and internship opportunities to high school students and recent high school graduates. Another effort, called the Karlee Project, a partnership that includes the Karlee Company, the Garland Independent School District, and Richland College exposes middle and high school students, teachers, and community members to the career opportunities in the changing field of manufacturing.
Contact: Deborah Somero (972) 238-6161
San Jacinto College-North Campus - Health Information Management
All graduates of this academic program passed the national Registered Health Information Technician Program in 1999, when it was accredited, compared to a national average of only 63 percent. In addition, the program reports a 100 percent placement rate for its graduates. The college's diversity - 22 percent Black, 32 percent Hispanic, and 39 percent White - is reflected in the Health Information Management program, and an overwhelming majority of students are economically disadvantaged. The program has established an extensive distance education effort, as well as an affiliation agreement with The University of Texas at Austin M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and an articulation agreement with Southwest Texas State University.
Contact: Charles Grant (281) 459-7100
Southwest Texas State University - SWT Mathworks Summer Program
This program provides off-campus summer math skills programs to high school students in Houston, Port Lavaca, Austin, Lockhart, and 18 cities in the Rio Grande Valley - where the large population of Hispanic students has relatively few similar opportunities. The program also promotes systemic changes for improving math instruction.
Contact: Max Warshauer, (512) 245-3439; Jennifer Hill, 512/472-4122
Texas A&M University - College of Veterinary Medicine Biomedical Science Program
With 2, 100 students, of whom 66 percent are female and 20 percent are racial/ethnic minorities, the Veterinary medicine Biomedical Science Program produces more applicants, by major, to Texas A&M University professional programs in medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine than any other program at the institution. Students in the program, with the help of full-time academic advisors, tailor their degrees to their occupational goals. Directed-research hours or internships are offered in diverse fields such as cardiology, toxicology, genetics, clinical research, epidemiology, laboratory animal management and hospital administration. A Spanish certification program, as well as accelerated secondary science teacher certification, are additional options. The program plans to develop articulation agreements with 10 community colleges to help ensure demographic representation from the state's different geographic regions.
Contact: F. H. Landis and Elizabeth Crouch (979) 845-4941
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi - First-Year Learning Communities Program
This program places all full-time, first-year students into groups that enroll in clusters of three or four courses. Connections among the courses are emphasized by faculty who collaborate to help students learn across disciplines.
Contact: Sandra Harper, (361) 825-2722
Texas Association of Community Colleges - Virtual College of Texas
This program significantly increases access to higher education through distance learning opportunities. More than 1,600 students enrolled during Fiscal Year 2001, up from 623 students in Fiscal Year 1999. Forty-seven Texas community college districts have joined the effort.
Contact: Ron Thomson, (512) 223-8030
Texas Tech University - TECHniques Center
Students with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders successfully pursue higher education with the help of the Texas Tech University TECHniques Center. In addition, students who participated more frequently in Center sessions earned significantly higher grade point averages than students who participated less frequently. Participating students receive individual support from staff members, a personal learning plan, academic advising services, tutoring, and related services to meet their learning styles, needs, and disabilities. The TECHniques Center also helps high schools across Texas meet the needs of learning-disabled students.
Contact: Leann DiAndreth-Elkins (806) 742-1822
Texas Tech University - The University Writing Center
This program helps university and public school students improve their writing skills. Since 1995, nearly 8,000 documents - including nearly 3,500 from K-12 students, primarily in rural areas - were submitted to this assistance center.
Contact: Lady Falls Brown, (806) 742-2500, ext. 282
The University of Texas-Pan American - University Retention Advisement Program
To increase student retention and graduation rates, this program assigns to each academic college a student development specialist who identifies student needs and works with faculty and professional staff to meet those needs. The program helps students understand the university environment and expectations, evaluate and understand their academic strengths and weaknesses, and determine and complete appropriate academic course work. For example, the program provides opportunities to develop a rapport with faculty, hosts college open houses, and helps students explore career opportunities.
Contact: Ana Maria Rodriguez (956) 316-7919
University of Houston-Downtown - Jesse H. Jones Academic Institute
This program significantly improves the college-going rates and academic performance of participating high school students at Houston's Jeff Davis High School. The program enrolls approximately 350 Jeff Davis students every summer in pre-collegiate courses emphasizing reading, writing, math, and sciences courses taught by college and university faculty.
Contact: Branden Kuzmick, (713) 221-8046
University of Houston-Victoria - Letting Education Achieve Dreams (LEAD)
Through this program, the University of Houston-Victoria works to raise the educational attainment level of its 15-county "service" region. Toward this goal, the LEAD program has established partnerships with school districts, business groups, and community organizations to raise community educational expectations, improve career awareness opportunities, enable higher educational attainment, and promote parental/adult involvement in education. The program hosts campus visits for groups of students in grades four through 10; participates with its partners in special events emphasizing the importance of education and career awareness; trains mentors; provides speakers who talk with P-12 students about the importance of college, preparing for college, and access to college; and provides related activities.
Contact: Margaret Hunt Rice (361) 570-4145
University of the Incarnate Word - Adult Degree Completion Program and Joint Admissions Program
These two efforts help more students earn baccalaureate degrees. The Adult Degree Completion Program allows working adults to earn "accelerated" degrees - at approximately one-half of the regular cost of tuition - by attending evening classes. Participating students can earn 30 semester credit hours in one year, and add an additional six hours of credit through an optional summer term. The Joint Admissions Program allows students who enroll in Alamo Community College District colleges to simultaneously enroll in the University of the Incarnate Word, thereby facilitating the transfer of college credit toward a baccalaureate degree.
Contact: Terry Dicianna (210) 805-5898