Alamo Colleges will undertake a $400 million bond campaign to finance a capital improvement projects to its fast-growing network of colleges. The board of trustees will form a Citizens Bond Advisory committee to oversee proposals and implementation for projects to be included in The Capital Improvement Program (CIP).

Even at $400 million, the advisory board will be responsible for making cuts to the list of proposed improvements.  

“We have to pare it down from approximately $700 million to $400 million,” said Dr. Bruce Leslie, chancellor of Alamo Colleges.

Dr. Bruce Leslie, Alamo Colleges Chancellor (Photo courtesy of Alamo Colleges)
Alamo Colleges Chancellor Bruce Leslie

The CIP will focus on expanding the Alamo Colleges’ Centers for Excellence, refurbishing aging and out-of-date facilities, and new technology to support academic programs. The construction of a new headquarters will be financed separately. Leslie points to the CIP funded by a $450 million bond package in 2005 as proof of the system’s investment priorities.

“We’ve invested pretty much everything in our academic mission,” said Leslie.

Since 2005, student headcount has increased by almost 24% to 65,559. In keeping with demographic projections, Alamo Colleges estimates fall term enrollment will increase to 95,990 credit-seeking students, plus approximately 20,000 to 30,000 non-credit seeking students, for a total of 135,990 students by the year 2030.  

The mission of community colleges has been endorsed at every level of government. President ObamaVice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden have all voiced support of the unique position of community college systems to build and enhance the highly skilled workforce. 

Mayor Ivy Taylor and Judge Nelson Wolff have tasked Alamo Colleges to co-lead SA-TEC (Talent for Economic Competitiveness). The education and workforce collaborative will provide a talent pipeline into key industries with high growth potential in San Antonio.

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Alamo Colleges is committed to making its segment of the pipeline as effective as possible. The CIP will provide facilities designed with cybersecurity, medical and allied health, advanced manufacturing, transportation and logistics, aerospace, and other fields in mind. To be truly trained for those work environments, students need to learn on current equipment in spaces that will prepare them for the workplaces they will encounter.

As San Antonio grows, Leslie sees Alamo Colleges serving a dual purpose to strengthen the city. The network is a vital part of the economic development team courting investment from tech companies and manufacturers, but it also provides a pathway for more San Antonians to enter the middle class.

“The Alamo Colleges plays a vital role in the economic development of the community, serving as a gateway to the middle class for many,” said Roberto Zárate, Alamo Colleges’ trustee and board chair of the Association of Community College Trustees.

Students who enter this pipeline come from diverse backgrounds and they have diverse goals. The capacity to tailor degree programs and build on the training, skills, and credits that students already have will be vital to the future of Alamo Colleges, said Leslie.

Alamo Colleges is looking to its CIP to ensure that the network can keep pace with expected growth in San Antonio, not only in the size of its population, but in the depth and diversity of its talent.

Top Image: Students gain hands-on experience in Palo Alto College’s unique career and technical programs. Courtesy Photo.

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Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel is a native San Antonian. You can also find her at her blog, FreeBekah.com, on Twitter @BekahMcneel, and on Instagram @wanderbekah.