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Industry Profile: Higher Education

The Central Texas region has a full complement of higher education institutions, with a major public research university and a private research university, a number of community colleges and a state supported technical college.

Texas A&M University

Located in College Station, in the heart of the Brazos Valley, Texas A&M University plays an integral role in the educational, social and economic fabric of Central Texas.

Texas A&M was established as a land-grant college in 1871. Originally, the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas was an all-male military college known for its Corps of Cadets program, and remained so until university president General James Earl Rudder made Corps participation voluntary and opened the school to women in the 1960s.28

Texas A&M University System

Texas A&M University System

Note: Texas A&M has satellite campuses in Galveston and the country Qatar; system affiliates are located in cities around the state including Texarkana, Corpus Christi and Kingsville.

Source: Texas A&M University System.

View text description of the Texas A&M University System.

The university is by far the region’s largest, with 48,039 students enrolled for the 2008-2009 academic year, or about 43 percent of all students attending two- and four-year educational institutions in the region.Texas A&M offers more than 120 undergraduate degree programs and 240 graduate programs. The university’s agriculture, engineering, business and veterinary programs are among the most highly rated; the school of engineering consistently ranks among U.S. News and World Report’s top 10 undergraduate and graduate programs, as does its veterinary school.29

But Texas A&M’s influence on the Central Texas region extends far beyond academics. For example, each year thousands of Aggies come together for the BIG Event, a day-long service event that consists of a number of projects in the Bryan-College Station area. Since its inception in 1982, the BIG Event has grown to become the nation’s largest single-day, student-run service project. Individual projects involve activities such as applying a fresh layer of paint to a home exterior or picking up litter from the side of the road. In the words of the event’s founder, Joe Nussbaum, the BIG Event is a way for students to say “thank you” to the surrounding community.30

With 48,000-plus students and more than 21,000 employees, Texas A&M has a profound economic effect on Central Texas. An in-house study conducted in 2007 estimates the university’s economic impact on Brazos County at $2.7 billion in 2006 alone. The study incorporates a multiplier that accounts for dollars as they circulate throughout the community. Absent the multiplier, the study estimates the direct economic impact of the A&M System on Brazos County at $1.1 billion annually.

Texas A&M is perhaps most well-known for its rich history of student traditions. According to the 12th Man tradition, for example, the entire student body stands during football games in support of the team. The practice was started by a student named E. King Gill, who was called from the stands in 1922 to suit up in case the team needed him.31

In 2007, Washington Monthly ranked Texas A&M first in the nation for tangible contributions to the public interest, based on its high levels of dedication in areas such as community service, student success and academic research.

Baylor University

Baylor University, the world’s largest Baptist university, is a privately owned institution in Waco that is home to more than 14,000 students from all 50 states. Fall 2008 enrollment totaled 14,541, up 6% from year 2000 enrollment.32

While the university specializes in liberal arts, it offers outstanding programs in many other areas as well. For example, U.S. News and World Report ranked Baylor’s Entrepreneurship program 14th in the nation in 2008.33 The diversity of Baylor’s educational offerings is reflected in its theological seminary, law school, nursing program and several other programs. In all, Baylor offers nearly 150 undergraduate study programs that range from theater performance to mechanical engineering.34

Founded in 1845, Baylor is among the state’s oldest private universities. Originally located in Independence, Texas, Baylor consolidated with Waco University to become Baylor University in Waco in 1886. The university grew significantly in the early 20th century, when several new schools were established, including schools of education, law, business and music. In addition, Baylor opened several medicine-related schools in Dallas and established Baylor Theological Seminary as a separate entity.

Baylor’s various programs have grown extensively throughout the years. The university restructured in the 1990s, clarifying the roles of its various programs; since then, university attendance has continued to grow.35

In addition to a diverse academic experience, Baylor also offers historical and cultural items of interest. The university’s Armstrong Browning Library contains a collection of 62 stained glass windows – possibly the largest secular collection of stained glass windows in the world. The library was founded to honor the works of Victorian-era poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.36

Other points of interest include a newly renovated bear habitat where visitors can view several American black bears. The Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat is a USDA-licensed zoo that hosts a bear-friendly environment complete with pools and a waterfall. The university mascots are two American black bears named Joy and Lady. 37 Baylor is the only private university that is a part of the Big 12 Conference.

McLennan Community College

McLennan Community College (MCC), which offers both university transfer and career programs, has served the Central Texas region since 1966, when it held its first classes on James Connally Air Force Base. At the time there were 855 students. Enrollment since then has risen by about 6 percent annually to its current level of about 8,000 students per semester.38

MCC is located on a 200-acre campus in Waco and it also owns a 200-acre farm about five miles from the main campus. MCC continues to expand and has three new buildings under construction; a general classroom building, a science building and an emergency services center. MCC partnered with the city of Waco to begin construction of a state-of-the-art Emergency Services Center, which includes classroom space for its emergency medical services, criminal justice and forensic science programs, a police academy and a fire academy, including a six-story “burn tower.”39

MCC offers both academic and technical courses. MCC offers three degrees (Associate in Arts, Associate in Science and Associate of Arts in Teaching) designed for transfer to a four-year institution. Each contains a core curriculum of courses recognized by Texas four-year institutions – communication, natural science, mathematics, humanities and arts, as well as the social and behavioral sciences. MCC also partners with state-funded universities to allow its students to earn bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at a University Center located on its campus.

For students interested in career programs, MCC offers certificates and Associate in Applied Science degrees in a wide range of areas including health sciences, paralegal, sign language interpretation and veterinary and medical technology. A 2006 survey found that MCC had trained 68 percent of all healthcare workers at two Waco hospitals and affiliated clinics.40 The college offers a two-year degree in nursing that prepares students for employment in a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities, making it the county’s primary provider of nurses.

Texas State Technical College - Waco

As part of the only state-supported technical college system in Texas, Texas State Technical College in Waco (TSTC-Waco) offers associate degrees and certificate programs in high-demand fields and emerging technologies. During fiscal 2007, TSTC-Waco had 6,642 students enrolled and awarded 1,032 degrees and certificates.41

The TSTC-Waco campus is located on the former site of the James Connally Air Force Base and is situated on 2,100 acres, purchased by the state in 1967.42

Students who graduate from TSTC can earn good starting salaries. Based on student follow-up surveys conducted one year after graduation, the average starting salary for TSTC Waco graduates with an associate degree is $32,000.43

TSTC-Waco is part of the Texas State Technical College System, established under the Texas Education Code to deliver technical education courses as a two-year post-secondary institution. Its mission is further defined in law to include contributing to the economic and educational development of the state and improving the ability of Texas businesses to remain competitive.44 To accomplish this mission, TSTC-Waco offers Associate of Applied Science degrees, certificates, transfer credit and customized training programs.

Associate of Applied Science/Certificate

Credits earned at TSTC - Waco can be applied toward an associate degree or certificate or transferred to a university under articulation agreements in fields including:

  • advertising design;
  • media communication;
  • biomedical equipment;
  • laser electro-optics;
  • gaming and simulation;
  • nanotechnology;
  • diesel and automotive repair and maintenance;
  • building construction;
  • electronics;
  • golf course/landscape management;
  • drafting/design;
  • welding;
  • dental assistance;
  • environmental health/safety;
  • refrigeration;
  • culinary arts;
  • aircraft pilot training;
  • aviation maintenance;
  • avionics;
  • mechanical engineering;
  • electrical power;
  • instrumentation;
  • computerized controls;
  • robotics;
  • pharmacy technician;
  • chemical/environmental laboratory technician;
  • geographic information systems;
  • surveying;
  • semiconductor manufacturing;
  • fuel cells/alternative energy;
  • industrial systems and engineering;
  • digital media design;
  • computer maintenance;
  • networking;
  • computer science;
  • network security;
  • digital forensics;
  • telecommunications.45

Customized Training

TSTC-Waco provides needs analysis, curriculum development, technical skill benchmarking, certification training, grant development/administration and fully customized training for incumbent workers meeting new duties and responsibilities, and to provide retraining for displaced workers.46


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