Apr 24th 2015 | Posted in Education by Texas Government Insider

TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser (right) presents and honorary Welding Degree to Gov. Greg Abbott.

TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser (right) presents and honorary Welding Degree to Gov. Greg Abbott.

As the nation’s workforce changes and employers look for workers whose skills and education are geared more toward high-tech and high-demand jobs, the need for and importance of educational institutions that offer technical instruction are growing as fast as their student populations.

In Texas, at the forefront and leading the charge to ensuring enough skilled workers to meet the state’s needs and to qualify workers for success in a global economy – and doing it for 50 years – is the Texas State Technical College (TSTC).

This week, TSTC celebrates its 50th anniversary of service to Texas and to Texans.

“In Texas, we have a wide array of colleges and universities already and we saw a need to diversify,” said TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser. “Our economy needs diversity. For the past half century, we’ve been providing this for Texas and for the next 50 years we’ll be doing it bigger, better and faster than before.”

Reeser and other TSTC System officials gathered in Austin this week with about 700 supporters of the System campuses, current and former students, civic and education leaders, state officials, employers and private citizens to hear Gov. Greg Abbott praise the TSTC System at a TSTC Foundation gathering.

Not only did Abbott praise TSTC for its continuing commitment to providing a skilled workforce for Texas, but he also pointed out the positive impact those efforts have on the state’s economic development. Abbott also made note of the fact that TSTC actively recruits military veterans for its training programs so the veterans can become a part of the state’s workforce. “One of our shortcomings in this country is that we’re not doing an adequate job of hiring veterans,” said the governor, who then implored employers attending the event to “hire a vet.”

Established in 1965 in Waco as James Connally Technical Institute of Texas A&M, the institute expanded into Harlingen in 1967 and separated from the Texas A&M System in 1969 as the Texas State Technical Institute. Since then, the System has grown to 11 campuses across the state – Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood, Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Ingleside, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater, Waco and Williamson County. Since opening its doors five decades ago, TSTC has graduated more than 97,000 students. Renamed Texas State Technical College in 1991, to date more than 97,000 students have graduated from the 11 TSTC campuses statewide.

Acknowledging the System’s long history of service to the state and to Texans, Reeser noted, “We’re proud of our many achievements, but we recognize that we had a great deal of help.” Some of those instrumental in the success of TSTC and its campuses over the last 50 years were honored as recipients of the TSTC Foundation’s 50th Anniversary Founders Awards. The awards were presented to supporters representing each of the four areas of the state serviced by the System. Receiving the awards were former State Sen. Murray Watson, Jr., representing Central Texas; the late State Sen. R. Temple Dickson III of Sweetwater, representing West Texas; the city of Harlingen, representing South Texas; and the Marshall Economic Development Corporation, representing East Texas.

As a way of honoring outstanding faculty, staff and friends of TSTC on its 50th anniversary, the System had special TSTC 50th Challenge coins designed for them for their support of the System’s overall goals and the goals on each campus.

TSTC prides itself on having successfully adapted to a changing world and changing workplace needs over the last 50 years. Reeser said the college has remained flexible enough to shift gears when necessary to adapt to technological advances and industrial workforce needs.

For example, Reeser noted how early program offerings such as meat processing and glass blowing, which focused on crafting vacuum tubes used to produce electronics, have been replaced by degree offerings in robotics and instrumentation technology. However, some original course work remains, such as welding and automotive repair. But they, too, have evolved and now include new technology and applications used in those industries.

Looking back over TSTC’s last 50 years and looking forward to the next 50 years, Reeser added, “We think about all of the students whose lives, and frankly the lives of their family, were changed, because they came to TSTC, they got a skill to get a great job, and they went to work in a profession they really had a passion for.”

For the latest Texas state and education news, follow our SPI Insights.

Former State Senator Murray Watson Jr accepts the TSTC Founders Award from TSTC Chancellor Michael L. Reeser

Former State Senator Murray Watson Jr accepts the TSTC Founders Award from TSTC Chancellor Michael L. Reeser