After three months of waiting, Dallas County Community College District has officially been approved to unify as a single institution: Dallas College.
DCCCD announced recently that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) approved its plan to become one major college. With the passing of the single accreditation, the new Dallas College will have “campuses” rather than “colleges,” which encompasses Brookhaven, Cedar Valley, Eastfield, El Centro, Mountain View, North Lake, and Richland.
DCCCD Chancellor Joe May calls it a pivotal moment in the institution’s history.
Once SACSCOC completes a site visit in the fall to verify the district is operating in consistency with its approved application, Dallas College will become the largest college in the state by students served and number of employees. DCCCD said this means it will eclipse Lone Star College in Houston.
“A single accreditation will not only bring new challenges and create exciting new roles but will help us lay the groundwork for education in Dallas County for the next 50 years,” Dr. May said in a statement. “And more immediately, as Dallas College, we can begin realigning our structure in the days and weeks ahead by filling key leadership roles that will guide the way we educate our students as one college.”
Many barriers students were facing when it came to graduation were related to the seven DCCCD colleges operating as separate institutions. Because each college had separate processes and administrative systems, students faced delays in completing their degrees, especially if they were enrolled at multiple colleges.
District leaders were motivated to reorganize after discovering that more than 1,300 students couldn’t receive degrees because they hadn’t acquired enough credits at one DCCCD college. (The credits couldn’t be combined for a degree). Now, a student can graduate no matter how many credits were accumulated at different campuses.
The structure served the district well for decades, but DCCCD said it was time to turn a page in its 54-year history.
“Students will now have a more consistent and seamless experience across campuses, and more of them will graduate on time,” Diana Flores, chair of the DCCCD Board of Trustees, said in a statement. The board authorized the single accreditation last August. “We’re excited that SACSCOC has put its stamp of approval on the process, and our vision, as we move forward.”
With SACSCOC approving DCCCD’s comprehensive application, concrete steps can start being taken on how the district can consolidate to better serve students.
The district outlined its goals in a “complete consolidation prospectus.” That included using “Schools of” categorically, streamlining student services to be available to all students regardless of location, and making organizational changes to academic leadership.
SACSCOC also granted a “level change,” which means that Dallas College will be able to offer a Bachelor of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education and Teaching. In the fall, Dallas College will launch its School of Education and the Early Childhood Institute—and the new bachelor’s degree will be the first four-year degree offered by the district.
DCCCD says it represents the evolution of a district that at one time solely offered associate degrees.
“We are very pleased with the accrediting board’s decision to allow our plan to move forward,” Dr. May said in a statement. “While there is still much work to be done, this marks a major step in furthering our mission of transforming lives and communities through higher education.”
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