The Economic Development Pulse October 2015 - Page 5



Odessa College

Dr. Gregory Williams


Can a community college in West Texas create a learning environment and educational

system that transforms a community, impacts its local economy, alters the landscape

of higher education and eventually changes the nation and the world? Is Odessa College

prepared to innovate and to “think different”* in order to address the

disparities in our region? We have no choice.

Our nation’s current educational systems, educational values, and expected educational

outcomes have not and are not doing enough to prepare our students and our

communities for the changes that are happening in our world and in this global economy.

We have to be prepared to train and educate students for jobs that don’t even exist.

There certainly was a time in our nation’s history when education was optional and was

not the only predictor of lifetime success. One could always work harder, take more

risks, and use other skills to compensate for a lack of traditional education. Those days

have changed and will continue to change as we move forward in a highly competitive

global economy. By 2018, the majority of job openings will require workers with at least some college education (Projection of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018, Georgetown University, 2010). More and more employers are expecting a skilled and trained workforce.

At Odessa College our goal is to remove every barrier, and change every traditional rule or expectation. We must change the educational landscape. We must be nimble in our response to our students, our community, our stakeholders – including K-12 and business & industry. Standard higher education, designed using the agrarian system and serving an elite group of families, does not truly transform lives or communities. To affect change, we must give all families an equal opportunity to access education and achieve success – education is the answer to addressing critical workforce needs while improving the quality of life in our communities.

We are challenged to “think different”* and think differently as we serve a diverse and unique population –

OC Global enables deployed soldiers to continue courses online; Weekend College allows full-time employees to earn a degree or enhance their skills in preparation for upward mobility; As an integral part of Odessa College’s innovative Design 4 Completion (D4C) program, MetaMajors are unique degree pathways that are aligned with business and industry, as well as the new high school endorsements; and Fast and Focused Eight Week Courses provide all students new flexibility and opportunities to accelerate time to degree completion. Additionally, our creative business and industry partnerships maximize scholarship and leverage the latest technologies - and allow us to develop exciting programs such as Drive To Success®, which enhance student engagement in the entire college-going culture. Our passion to innovate is testament to the college’s commitment to challenge, rethink, question and improve higher education.