Johnson Foundation grant to aid VC's Emerging Technology Center

Feb. 17, 2013 at 10:04 a.m.
Updated Feb. 16, 2013 at 8:17 p.m.

To help train and educate an expanding South Texas workforce, Victoria College has received a $2.5 million grant from the M.G. & Lillie A. Johnson Foundation.

The grant will be used in three areas, college officials said.

The largest part of the grant, $1.98 million, will help offset equipment costs for programs that will be housed in VC's new Emerging Technology Center.

The Johnson Foundation scholarship endowment will receive $300,000, and an additional $200,000 will fund a new scholarship program to support students in allied health programs through completion of a certificate or degree.

The new allied health scholarship will provide a full scholarship to numerous students accepted into one of the college's certificate and degree programs. These include associate degrees in nursing, vocational nursing, medical laboratory technology, respiratory care and physical therapist assistant, said Jennifer Yancey, Victoria College vice president of College Advancement and External Affairs.

The $300,000 contribution to the VC Foundation's scholarship endowment will support recent high school graduates, students returning to school later in life and the college's distinguished scholar initiative.

"It is essential to help provide support to future health care workers," Robert Halepeska, executive vice president of the M.G. and Lillie A. Johnson Foundation, said of the scholarship grant.

Victoria College officials expressed appreciation for the grant and explained its importance not only for the school but also for the community.

"The grant from the Johnson Foundation will allow us to create a state-of-the-art facility with new equipment and technology," said Tom Butler, Victoria College president. "It allows us to meet rapidly changing community needs for training and workforce development."

The $1.98 million will be used for instructional and presentation technology, communication systems and security along with equipment to expand and implement training programs. The equipment supported by the grant is required for VC's welding, machining and industrial systems mechanic programs, as well as all computer labs and necessary technical equipment.

"The M.G. & Lille A. Johnson Foundation traditionally supports programs and services centered around allied health, but the board of directors saw the Emerging Technology Center as one of the biggest needs in the region right now," Halepeska said. "They saw a dire need and knew this support would have the greatest impact on our region."

He said the board could not think of a better way to invest the funds.

In May, Victoria County voters approved a $22 million general obligation bond to support VC's master plan, which includes construction of the Emerging Technology Center.

Groundbreaking will occur this spring. The building is expected to be completed in about 16 months, with classes beginning in the new facility shortly thereafter.

The Emerging Technology Center will prepare students for in-demand jobs in the South Texas Golden Crescent area and meet the training needs of business and industry. The center will be located on 13 acres of land donated by the city of Victoria in the Lone Tree Industrial Park across from the Caterpillar plant.

Butler said VC's workforce and continuing education courses will be moved to the center, freeing up space on the main campus for new programs.

The center will offer workforce training in in-demand areas such as industrial systems mechanic, machinist, oil and gas technicians and logistics and operations management.

College officials said the center will support customized training needs for new and existing businesses and industries by creating a pipeline of skilled employees. There will be opportunities for community members, foundations, businesses and industries to support the innovative technology and training programs at the new center, they added.



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