Message from the Chancellor: Celebrating Student Success

Dear Riverbats, 

This Saturday, we will gather virtually to celebrate the achievements of more than 3,400 students at our fall commencement. I’m immensely proud of their successes, because it is a reflection of your guidance and support. I invite you to join me at 11 a.m. Saturday, December 12, to take part in this celebration. The pre-show begins at 10 a.m.

This is our largest group of graduates to date. Combined with the number of students who graduated in spring, we will have recognized more than 6,300 this year. These students have been challenged like no other —  and have persevered. Seeing their courage and determination during these unprecedented times has been nothing short of amazing.

Shannon P. will graduate this weekend, and she credits you for helping her reach this milestone. She remembers the day before we left for spring break in March; one of her professors told the class how it was very likely our spring break might be extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She remembers leaving class that day unaware that we would not be coming back. Shannon says the pandemic uprooted everything we had planned for that semester, but it also instilled in her a deeper determination to push forward. In her words, “I remembered why I was at ACC; to learn how I can help this world become a better place.”

Another graduate, Precious O. says ACC became the place where she not only developed academically, but also as a person. Here, she found communities of support like our Student Government Association and our Honors Program that she says she will forever cherish. Precious found out just this week that she’s been accepted to the University of Texas – Austin and plans to transfer there, next.

Hearing their stories, we’re reminded of the importance of what we do. While we don’t have official numbers just yet, we are looking at preliminary data and it shows strong and promising growth across all college programs. Our students have earned 43 percent more associate degrees and 49 percent more certificates over the last 5 years. You have made this possible.

2020 is the first year that fully realizes the impacts of our work in Guided Pathways. In 2016, we redesigned the learning experience at ACC with Guided Pathways to provide students a clear roadmap to on-time completion with personalized support to keep them on track. Our goal was to improve student outcomes and remove barriers to success. You helped us develop new initiatives, like our Student Success course — EDUC 1300; create new learning facilities, like the ACCelerator; launch co-requisite courses; and expand support programs. We remain committed to this work.

Our community looks to us to help get people like Shannon and Precious into college so they can earn a credential, get a job, and improve their lives. That’s the mission of 60x30TX — ensuring at least 60 percent of Texans between ages 25-34 earn a certificate or degree by 2030. You’re doing incredible work to get us there. I want to express my sincere thanks for your commitment to our mission and our students. 

This week is the culmination of years of hard work. It is your time to celebrate, too. Join me on Saturday to show our students how much we care.

ACC 2020 Virtual Commencement Celebration
Saturday, December 12
10 a.m. | Pre-show Celebration
11 a.m. | Virtual Commencement
Watch the Commencement Celebration

We cannot predict what waits for us in the months ahead, but as always, we know we will continue to keep our students and their success at the core of what we do. The COVID-19 pandemic is proof that we must be ready to pivot and adapt. As always, ACC will continue to monitor the impacts in our region, and remain ready to change our plans as needed. My promise to you is that we will keep you updated, and we will keep our students on track. 

Richard M. Rhodes, Ph.D. 
Austin Community College District

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