College of the Mainland President Warren Nichols talks with students.
College of the Mainland President Warren Nichols talks with students.The College of the Mainland board of trustees and president. Front from left, Melissa Skipworth, Rosalie Kettler and Bennie Matthews. Back from left, Warren Nichols, Kyle Dickson, Alan Waters, Don Gartman and Rachel Delgado.

Last week trustees and administrators of College of the Mainland fleshed out long-term plans for the future—one that includes modernizing current facilities and building new ones, and making an education at the 50-year-old college more accessible in days to come.

“It’s a new day for College of the Mainland,” said President Dr. Warren Nichols, who joined the college in February. “Our June 30 retreat showed that this board is engaged and working proactively to move College of the Mainland into a bright future.”

Part of that vision includes COM’s part in implementing the state of Texas’ 60x30 higher education plan, that, if successful, will help 60-percent of all Texans between 25 and 34 years of age attain a certificate or degree by 2030. The president’s goals were four months in the making and addressed three areas – student success, employees and facilities.

“Student success is our top priority,” Nichols said, as he outlined his goal to grow the college’s enrollment of full-time students to 4,000 by 2025.   While COM’s student headcount is more than 3,900 students, its full-time students number 2,778, since more than 70-percent of its students attend part time.

Dr. Nichols also gave trustees a plan to double the number of annual degrees and certificates awarded to COM students by 2025. His agenda includes decreasing the number of years it takes for students to complete a degree by lowering the average number of credits students take while pursuing their degree from an average of 101 semester hours to 70.

Perhaps no topic received more interest than a plan to expand and enhance the college’s aging facilities while addressing the workforce needs of business and industry in the region.

"Improving our facilities to serve our workforce needs is critical to the future and economic well-being of our communities,” Nichols said.

The president presented an aggressive plan to begin now, rather than later, to transform the campus by using a 2015 master plan as the foundation.

Renovations, infrastructure repairs and facility upgrades will be funded by a revenue/maintenance bond that will not impact taxpayers. Included in the list of renovations is modernizing a 50-year-old chemistry lab into a state-of-the art learning facility.

Also included are repairs to the façade of the student center, theater renovations, and roof replacements. The board reviewed each of 13 projects and indicated that they felt positive about the direction that college is taking.

Another goal discussed with trustees is to create a college environment that attracts administrators, faculty and staff serving COM students.

COM will get a facelift to its current brand and communication plans, as well. Trustees reviewed a new look for publications and new communication vehicles rolled out by the college’s Marketing and Communications Office.

Those plans include a community newsletter to better inform every community resident, to be mailed into homes at least three times a year, as well as a workforce magazine, Career Focus, which will provide information about high demand careers in the area and the training COM provides for these careers.

The productive half-day retreat wrapped up with the board discussing committee assignments, as well as the recent approval of officers. 

Leading the COM Board of Trustees for the next two years are Kyle Dickson, chair, Alan Waters, vice-chair, and Rosalie Kettler, secretary. Don Gartman is chairing the Building and Grounds Committee, Rachel Delgado is chairing the Finance/Audit Committee, Bennie Matthews is chairing the Human Resources Committee. The Policy Committee is being chaired by Rosalie Kettler.