Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County celebrated the opening of its new campus with a ribbon cutting and grand opening that included a surprise that will pay off big for students’ futures.
Master of ceremonies Russ Lewis, KHOU 11 morning anchor, began the program with a huge Texas welcome to the more than 400 people in attendance. Included in the group were community leaders and residents; college donors and supporters; and TSTC administration, faculty and staff.
Vice Chancellor and Chief Execution Officer Randy Wooten emphasized the notion that TSTC will have a major impact on Fort Bend County and its neighboring communities.
“Through this event we tried to bring together all the people of this community who made this campus happen,” Wooten said. “Undoubtingly, it is the leaders, the education advocates and the visionaries who truly understand that TSTC will make Fort Bend County a better place to live and work.”
Wooten thanked those that came together to raise the money to invest in a brighter future for all of the residents of Fort Bend County.
“You made this happen,” said Wooten. “You not only worked together, but together raised the money needed to make an investment in a better future for all the residents of the Fort Bend County. This has been a humbling experience and I’m so honored to be a part of it.”
The Development Corporation of Richmond, Rosenberg Development Corporation, the George and Henderson-Wessendorf foundations; and the community of Fort Bend County raised more than $40 million dollars to keep TSTC in the region because of the impact it has on industry and the job market.
The 126,000-square-foot TSTC Industrial Technology Center houses state-of-the-art labs and classrooms for the more than 250 students enrolled. It is the first building in what will eventually be a six to eight building campus with the capacity to support 5,000 students.
With construction on the second building, the Brazos Center, underway and scheduled to be complete for fall 2017, TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser made two special announcements that will change the lives of many prospective TSTC students.
“I am proud to announce that TSTC has set up a money back guarantee that allows a student who fails to find a job within six months of graduating to receive a refund of their tuition, and TSTC’s Foundation Board has decided that each family here tonight will receive a $1,000 scholarship certificate.”
The scholarships are to be given to a deserving Fort Bend County resident who is willing to make the commitment to be a new full-time TSTC student.
“Just like you helped us build this campus, you will help us grow it,” said Reeser. “Together we will bring in students, we will graduate them and put them in the region’s workforce.”
Rosenberg resident Linda Knesek spoke nothing but praises about TSTC’s new Fort Bend County campus.
“TSTC has done the community proud,” said Knesek. “This type of facility has been a dream for so many people for a long time and I understand it will only grow from here. We’re blessed to have this here in Fort Bend County.”
Knesek also took advantage of the $1,000 scholarship certificates being distributed at the event.
“This scholarship is going to my great-nephew who just graduated from high school,” said Knesek. “A four-year degree isn’t for him, so this is a great opportunity for him.”
TSTC serves Texas with 10 campuses throughout the state. TSTC in Fort Bend County offers certificate and associate degrees in cyber security, diesel equipment, HVAC, industrial maintenance, precision machining, telecommunications and welding technologies. Four more technologies are to be offered next year.
The Fort Bend County legislative delegation came together to push through a complicated effort including three separate pieces of legislation and two separate funding items. State Rep. John Zerwas authored House Bill 658, allowing the campus to be established. The bill was co-sponsored by representatives Phil Stephenson, Rick Miller and Ron Reynolds, and Sen. Lois Kolkhorst sponsored the bill in the Senate, bringing it through to its final passage.
“I hope we all remember that your elected officials in Austin made it happen,” said TSTC Chancellor and CEO Michael Reeser. “In statute, they created this campus. We wouldn’t have it without them. TSTC campuses are actually created by the legislature, so it takes their work in order to open a new location.”
Both longtime TSTC supporters, Zerwas serves as chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education and Kolkhorst is a member of the Senate Committee on Education.
“Rarely as an elected official do you get to see something from the beginning, when it was just a vision, when it was just a dream, to where you see it is right now,” said Zerwas.
Kolkhorst said Thursday’s celebration commemorated more than the opening of the campus, it also represented the community coming together.
“When we talk about the donations from the two foundations, and the two cities, the county and industry – it’s well north of $37 million that was donated,” Kolkhorst said. “So the state portion was almost like a match to make this a reality. I want to thank the citizens of Fort Bend County for all the efforts in bringing TSTC, the partnership with Wharton County Junior College and the symbiotic relationship that they have. It’s just going to be very exciting to see the impact that it has in not only Fort Bend County, but the surrounding counties as well.”
House Bill 658, which established the campus, was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on May 23, 2015. Zerwas also authored House Bill 100, signed later in June, which designated $14.9 million to the construction of a second building at TSTC in Fort Bend County.
U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, commended TSTC for helping further job creation and pursuit of the American dream for generations to come.
“I’m proud to be able to point to the people in D.C. that TSTC is what’s great about America,” he said.
Fort Bend County Judge Bob Herbert said TSTC made the third leg in the county’s educational table. The public schools make one leg, the higher education institutes of the University of Houston, Houston Community College and Wharton County Junior College make the second. TSTC, he said, fills in the educational gap between the two, providing a third leg of education in the county.
“When it came to vocational skills, we always had that short leg that we had to shore up,” he said.
The campus is expected to grow to house six to eight buildings and support 5,000 students. For more information on the Fort Bend County campus, call 832-595-8734 or visit www.tstc.edu/fbc.
(Joe Southern contributed
to this story.)