Williamson tapped to lead statewide committee on transfer

May 17, 2021Amanda Fenwick

Focus on seamless transfer opportunities for community college students a priority

PASADENA, Texas — San Jacinto College Deputy Chancellor and College President Dr. Laurel Williamson has been selected to co-chair the Texas Transfer Advisory Committee, a statewide collaboration to make transferring from a Texas community college to a four-year university seamless for students.

"I am honored to have been selected as co-chair of this committee," said Williamson. "The work that we have done so far, and will continue to do, is valuable for the more than 715,000 community college students in Texas. Ensuring that they are able to have a defined pathway from community college to university so that they graduate on time is critical for our state."

The Texas Transfer Advisory Committee was derived as part of legislation from Texas' 86th legislative session. Senate Bill 25 included several important provisions to improve transfer in Texas, including recommended course sequences, earlier filing of degree plans, and new reporting on nontransferable credit. To build upon the momentum created by Senate Bill 25, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board convened a small workgroup, the Improving Texas Transfer Workgroup, to study and make recommendations to improve vertical transfer and the applicability of credit in Texas' public higher education institutions. From that workgroup the Texas Transfer Advisory Committee was formed.

Williamson will co-chair the Texas Transfer Advisory Committee alongside Dr. James Hallmark, vice chancellor for academic affairs at Texas A&M University. The committee will consist of faculty and administrators from public institutions, with equal representation from community colleges and universities, as well as advising and student ex-officio members. They will be responsible for overseeing and ensuring consistent review of all parts of the Texas Transfer Frameworks and sharing information. In addition, the committee will review relevant data, coordinate the schedule of discipline-specific reviews, make recommendations to the Texas Education Commissioner, and propose changes when institutions indicate that an aspect of the framework is not working. The committee will work under the design principles that were developed by the Improving Transfer in Texas Workgroup.

According to the THECB, community colleges serve 70% of first- and second-year students in Texas. Providing a vital path for students to earn a bachelor's degree and ensuring that students who start their higher education journey at a community college can easily navigate the transfer process and seamlessly transfer to earn a four-year degree is key to increasing opportunities for social and economic mobility.

While there are some challenges around misalignment, unclear pathways, and insufficient and confusing information about transfer, Williamson is optimistic that the committee's work will provide clearer and more substantial direction and information for students and Texas public institutions.

"The work that is ahead of us is exciting," added Williamson. "We have the pieces in place for seamless transfer opportunities in Texas, and our work will put those pieces together. We want to understand where our students are not being successful in the transfer process and fix that. It's about aligning curriculum and courses that make sense for students and saving students money and time to completing their degree."

Williamson says that the committee will begin its work by reviewing the current fields of study pathways. She anticipates that several sub-committees comprising subject matter experts from community colleges and universities will be formed for specific discipline-related work to determine the best transfer solution for students by mapping a pathway from high school to community college to university.

The committee will be a permanent standing committee for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board that meets regularly.

To learn more about the Texas Transfer Advisory Committee, visit the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board website.

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, evolving industries, maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has served the people of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. San Jacinto College is among the top 10 community colleges in the nation as designated by the Aspen Institute for Community College Excellence, and was named an Achieving the Dream Leader College of Distinction in 2020. The College serves approximately 45,000 credit and non-credit students annually, and offers more than 200 degrees and certificates across eight major areas of study that put students on a path to transfer to four-year institutions or enter the workforce. San Jacinto College's impact on the region totals $1.3 billion in added income, which supports 13,044 jobs. The College is fiscally sound, holding bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor's and Moody's.

For more information about San Jacinto College call 281-998-6150, visit sanjac.edu or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.