Texas Education Commissioner invites LSCPO President to address TX Higher Education Coordinating Board Leadership Conference

Published 2:51 pm Wednesday, December 8, 2021

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AUSTIN, Texas – At the request of the Texas Commissioner of Education, Dr. Harrison Keller, Lamar State College Orange (LSCO) President Dr. Johnson spoke on a panel at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Leadership Conference in Austin last week on “Higher Education’s Role in Addressing Workforce Needs and Driving the Economy.” Dr. Johnson spoke of the importance of a two-year college education in providing a bridge to a brighter future for many who are looking to become employed or to re-enter the workforce.

“I sit on our Economic Development Council in Orange County and we’re trying to figure out what it is that the manufacturers and industry members need, and we listen. For too long we focused on how many credits we can get in, instead of what skills that industry is demanding,” said President Tom Johnson.

Also speaking with Dr. Johnson on the topic were the President and COO of McCoy’s Building Supply and the Executive Director of the Texas Workforce Commission. Dr. Johnson also spoke of the importance of giving students small wins, especially students whose family members have never been to college, in order to help them build confidence in their ability to continue and complete college.

“If we can get someone in Southeast Texas to learn how to operate a forklift, then maybe we can get them to earn a certificate, all which lead to marketable skills for the local economy. We have to meet students where they are,” Johnson added.

“I believe micro-credentials are the way, particularly for first-generation students like myself, because they need that win. Small wins along the way are the difference between a person feeling a sense of worth and not. They then know that they can ‘do’ college, and we can build upon that. If we only say that you need to get a degree, we’re not doing them a favor, nor are we doing industry a favor,” said Johnson.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Leadership Conference is an annual gathering that allows participants to engage with higher education leaders and business and industry stakeholders across an array of important topics. For new college system regents and trustees, the conference also provides statutorily-required training on important topics including ethics, governance, budgeting, and financial management.