Report says VC enrollment, economic impact surging; president given raise

Nov. 28, 2011 at 5:28 a.m.

In a year that saw increased competition and slashed state budget cuts, Victoria College reported a surge in enrollment and added $20.1 million in income to the Crossroads economy, according to an end-of-year report.

After approving the report at its regular board meeting Monday, the VC Board of Trustees voted to raise the salary of its president, Tom Butler, by 2 percent to an annual salary of $194,208.

While Victoria county's population gained just more than 3 percent since the 2000 census, VC saw nearly 8 percent growth in the same period, according to the report.

VC this year welcomed 4,566 students for credit courses and 5,099 students for non-credit courses

"The growth has really been across the board in our students who are preparing to transfer, students who are here getting a workforce degree and our students who are here in our continued education programs," Butler said.

The college commissioned an economic impact study that found VC graduates provide to the Crossroads $1.1 million in savings to the community each year, due to lowered unemployment, public assistance, health care and crime costs.

For taxpayers in VC's district, the college provides a 5.6 percent return on investment for their VC-related taxes, according to the report.

The report identified factors that contributed to student success this year, which included revamping its tutoring center; the creation of a veterans affairs adviser; a grant focused on health-risk behaviors; the creation of a physical therapist assistant program and $70,000 in additional funding to prepare middle schoolers for careers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

The report also named two challenges VC faced this year.

The first highlighted the impact of the University of Houston-Victoria's downward expansion that sought to recruit freshmen and sophomores to the university that sits on the border of VC's campus.

Despite UHV's recruitment of students outside of VC's service area, VC found UHV gained many undergraduates from the area VC serves. Besides that, the report concluded VC experienced no negative or positive effects from the UHV expansion.

Most challenging to VC's 2010- 11 school year was the continued reduction in state funding. Since 2000, the amount of VC's budget derived from state sources decreased from 36 to 24 percent, leading to an increase in tuition and fees and local taxes.

Over the past year, Butler regularly updated the board on the state's budget shortfall that threatened to cut education funding by varying amounts, depending on reports coming out of a Legislature that did not approve a budget until late in special session.

Despite the cuts, the board in September adopted a budget that would provide a 2-percent raise for VC's faculty and staff, increasing wages that had been frozen the last year.

While some positions and costs were eliminated through attrition, Butler had voiced approval of the raise that he said would attract highly-qualified teachers and keep the college competitive.

At Monday's meeting, after a brief review of last year's audited financial statements, Board President Ronald Walker said he was pleased with how Butler handled the challenges of the past year.

The board returned from an executive session and voted unanimously to extend the staff raise to VC's president, earning him an extra $3,808.

"We're on sure footing and want everyone to know that the board is very pleased with what Dr. Butler and with what the staff has been doing. We're extremely optimistic for this year, but even more optimistic for years to come," Walker said.

The end-of-year report looked ahead to the 2011-2012 school year and identified plans for an expanded fine arts complex, the creation of a business and workforce training center, expansion at the Gonzales Center and training plans for the Caterpillar Skills Development Fund Project, which will train more than 300 hires at the Caterpillar plant.

Next year, VC will also work toward renewing its accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.



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