Star Award 

Texas Southmost College has been chosen as a recipient of the prestigious 2023 Star Award by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. This honor recognizes the college’s outstanding achievement in producing consistent and aligned educational outcomes for all students, particularly students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

“We are very pleased that the dedicated work of the Texas Southmost College board of trustees, faculty and staff is being recognized by the THECB,” said TSC Board Chair Adela G. Garza. “Our purpose continues to focus on providing exceptional service to our communities, with the goal of strengthening the student experience. We know that by earning a college education, our graduates are able to enhance the quality of life for their families.”

First established in 2001, the THECB’s 2023 Star Award recognizes institutions of higher education that demonstrate exceptional contributions toward meeting goals of the state’s strategic plan, Building a Talent Strong Texas, which aims to provide college students with stronger credentials to enter the workforce post-graduation.

“Texas Southmost College represents an important pathway to upward economic mobility for the communities we serve,” said Texas Southmost College President Dr. Jesus Roberto Rodriguez. “The Star Award recognizes the great focus the college has on supporting students to ensure they achieve their dream of earning a college education. Beginning with our Board of Trustees, who establish the vision for our work and extending to our dedicated faculty and staff, the Scorpion Family provides students with a high-quality education while remaining the most affordable institution of higher education in the entire Rio Grande Valley.”

With a focus on enhancing their student’s credentials, one of the first initiatives TSC took was implementing innovative course design. As a pilot project, several general and developmental courses were redesigned to incorporate contextualized learning, a proven concept to help students make connections between new knowledge and past experiences. For example, several Composition 1 sections were redesigned to incorporate assignments relevant to engineering and criminal justice students. Similarly, Technical Writing sections were redesigned to include assignments relevant to engineering, accounting, and paralegal students.

Providing flexibility for busy students’ schedules is an important factor affecting their ability to complete a college education. To meet this challenge, Texas Southmost College continues expanding the number of programs offered online. Currently, the college offers 24% of its course sections online, including most of its general education courses, as well as nine fully online programs–a number the college plans to double in 2024. In addition, students may take advantage of evening and weekend courses.

Affordability is another challenge students often face. To increase students’ access to college, the Texas Southmost College Board of Trustees has lowered tuition and fees twice over the last six years to become the most affordable institution of higher education in the entire Rio Grande Valley. In addition, the college is addressing another widespread challenge in higher education—rising textbook prices. With initial funding through a grant from the THECB, Texas Southmost College transitioned nearly all required course resources to Open Educational Resources, eliminating expensive textbook costs for students.

Texas Southmost College is also working to enhance success for workforce training students. Occupational Skills Awards and industry certifications have been integrated into the curriculum to make students more marketable in the workplace. The college has become a designated testing site for many certification and licensure exams, meaning students no longer have to travel to testing sites outside of the community.

To complement the program redesign initiatives and enhancement of student services, Texas Southmost College connects students with wrap-around services designed to keep them on track toward graduation, such as the digital library and 24/7 tutoring. In addition, through the Scorpion Opportunity Hub, students can access fresh produce from the campus community garden, the food pantry, services provided by Community Based Organizations, as well as important Student Services departments such as Student Life, Counseling and Student Accessibility Resources and the Veteran’s Success Center.

President Rodriguez said Texas Southmost College is deeply honored to receive the STAR award. “We are pleased that our own initiatives in helping our students succeed not only during college but afterwards, in the workforce, is aligned with our state’s strategic plan of Building a Talent Strong Texas.”

About Texas Southmost College 

Originally established in 1926, Texas Southmost College offers the first two years of study toward a bachelor’s degree, career and technical education leading to certificates and associate degrees, college preparatory studies to prepare students for college-level work, workforce training, and continuing education. TSC offers 54 programs of study leading to an associate degree or certificate, nine workforce training programs, and customized corporate training.

Texas Southmost College Marketing Department