TBCC Connections: Transformational Changes at TBCC

By Dr. Ross Tomlin
January 4, 2019
Ross Tomlin Photo

It is rare for organizations to experience transformational opportunities. Five years ago, TBCC received one of those opportunities when the college was awarded a $2.5M Federal Title III Strengthening Institutions grant to build our capacity and enhance and improve student success.  Being able to infuse that much money into such a small college over a five-year period has literally transformed TBCC in many ways. It helped the college expand the ways it helps students to be successful. The main categories of accomplishments include Instruction, Student Services, Technology, and the College Foundation.

With Instruction, which includes teaching and faculty, the grant helped the college develop a fully online Business program which includes both degrees and certificates and can be earned by taking all online classes. The college also increased the number of online courses over the past five years, almost doubling the number of students taking online courses. Probably one of the biggest accomplishments is in the development of online educational resources (OERs) which are low or no cost textbooks.  During the grant period, the college has saved TBCC students over $500,000 in textbook costs by transitioning to OERs! The grant also allowed the college to provide a rich and varied assortment of faculty and staff professional development opportunities.  A Writing Studio was also created to help students enhance their writing skills in all courses where writing is required.

For Student Services, an online student early alert system was implemented to help faculty and advisors work together to identify students at risk and connect them to resources to help them successfully complete their classes and stay in school. In addition, the college implemented online transcripts to help students receive copies of their transcripts quicker and easier, as well as an online bookstore for all textbooks, providing lower costs and quicker service by students ordering their own books online. Finally, an online tutoring service that is free to students was implemented to not only help online students but any student that wants help 24 hours per day.

In the area of Technology, all 16 classrooms at the college were fitted with state-of-the-art projectors that provide smart board features to enhance the way faculty can interact with students. Electronic systems were also implemented for storing electronic documents, making work at the college for all staff more efficient. Across the college a continuous improvement effort was implemented and numerous business processes were improved that cut waste and expanded our capacity to better meet student needs.

This grant also allowed the college to hire and now retain our Foundation Director and grow our college Foundation, which provides thousands of dollars of scholarships to students all year long.  A new online scholarship program was installed which allows students to apply for scholarships online using a single application instead of separate applications for each scholarship, as has been required in previous years.

We completed our Title III grant in September. The grant supported the college to increase the number of students completing a degree or certificate, or to transfer on to a university, increased our capacity as an organization to meet student needs, and built sustainability through technology and resource development that will support us into the future. We are a better, stronger organization to go forward and serve our community.