Editor’s Note: South Texas College is celebrating its 25th anniversary. To coincide, STC Public Relations Specialist Jose Gomez has penned a column that looks back at why the college was created and how it continues to deliver on its promise. Here is it is:
As a young teen, current South Texas College (STC) Trustee Rose Benavidez recalls traveling with her father, the late Manuel Benavidez, across Starr County looking for support for what was then known as South Texas Community College (STCC).
Her father had just been appointed as a trustee for the college, and in the summer of 1995, public acceptance for STCC had snowballed, culminating in an election that saw votes approve three propositions that were essential for the college.
“When I was a kid driving around with my father I remember they were having classes in laundromats or they were allowed by school districts to have classes in old libraries,” Benavidez said. “I can recall my very first experience with the college was when I was maybe 15 years old. But far beyond the brick and mortar is the impact and the change in the people of pour community.”
In June 1993, then Texas Gov. Ann Richards signed legislation creating South Texas Community College, converting the former Texas State Technical College campus in McAllen into a local governed community college serving Hidalgo and Starr Counties.
“I had the passion, the commitment and the tenacity to say, ‘by God, we’re going to do this’,” said STC President Dr. Shirley A. Reed. “When you look at the level of poverty in the Valley and the number of individuals who haven’t even had an opportunity to finish high school, much less go to college, it becomes clear there is no end to the work that needs to be done in the Valley.”
STCC opened its doors September 1993, and classes began with 1,058 students. Since that time, STC has seen steady growth in its student enrollment, starting with 1,085 students in 1993 to more than 34,000 students by fall 2017.
STC offers more than 120 degree and certificate program options including associate degrees in the art, science, technology and allied health fields. The college also offers 18 online associate agrees and certificate options through South Texas College Online enabling students to earn their degrees without even setting foot on campus.
“To see friends, family and ex-students come through our programs and to see them graduate has been a very satisfying experience,” said trustee Dr. Alejo Salinas. “To hear the feedback from those who have come here, and how full of pride they are with their education, that’s a very rewarding experience for me. It provides me with plenty of reason for wanting to be part of this college.”
1993 – Texas. Gov. Ann Richards signs legislation creating South Texas Community College.
1994 – Current STC President Dr. Shirley A. Reed begins as the college’s first president.
1995 – Taxpayers in Hidalgo and Starr Counties approve STCC’s $20 million bond.
1996 – Largest student body ever. More than 5,000 students begin classes during the fall.
1997 – STC begins offering distance-learning classes in January.
1998 – Former Texas Gov. Ann Richards delivers commencement address.
1999 – STCC celebrates the opening of its new Starr County Campus in September 1999.
2000 – STC, TAMUK, UT-Brownsville/Texas Southmost College sign first articulations agreement.
2001 – Voters approve $98.7 million bond issue for expanded facilities at five campuses.
2002 – Starr County Campus enrollment increases by 15 percent to 1,302 students.
2003 – STCC accredited as a Level II baccalaureate degree granting institution.
2004 – STCC becomes South Texas College in June.
2005 – STC begins its BAT degree in Technology Managements with 40 students.
2006 – STC No. 1 in nation of four-year community colleges awarding associate degrees in education.
2007 – STC graduates its first 15 Bachelor of Applied Technology (BAT) Program students.
2008 – College receives MetLife Foundation Community College Excellence Award.
2009 – Fall enrollment hits a record 27,132 students.
2010 – STC among 21 in nation names “Leader College” for improvement in student achievement.
2011 – STC named among most affordable colleges in the nation by the U.S. Department of Education.
2012 – STC named among top 100 associate degree and certificate producers.
2013 – STC $159 million bond passes in November.
2014 – Radiologic Tech. Program receives perfect pass rate on national exam.
2015 – STC welcomes nation’s first Festo certified training center for robotics and automation in June.
2016 – Pharmacy Tech Program and Occupational Therapy recognized as among the best in the nation.
2017 – High school seniors become the first in the nation to graduate with Associate Degree in Nursing.
2018 – STC welcomes first distinguished scholars for early college high schools Valley-wide.