Texas Southmost College Marks 95 Years

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The Roaring ’20s did not miss the Valley. Much like the rest of the nation, Brownsville was in a period of prosperity and rapid growth. According to U.S. Census data, Brownsville’s population increased by more than 85% from 1920 to 1930 with more than 22,000 people counted in 1930.

As the region grew in both population and development, including the Gateway International Bridge and Brownsville International Airport, so did the need for advanced education.

In 1926, Texas Southmost College was established as the RGV’s first institution of higher education. Over the past 95 years, TSC has stayed true to its mission of providing a high-quality, affordable education close to home.

As a TSC student in the early ’60s, Board of Trustees Vice Chair Dr. Tony Zavaleta can attest to how the college helps lay the foundation for a prosperous career.

“I was able to get my academic start at TSC, then branch out and have my credits transferred to the University of Texas at Austin,” he said. “I had to work throughout college, and this is the case for many students and families in the RGV. So, the community college is a great option, and it has played a critical role in the economic development around here since it was created.”

While the college has grown in its programs and initiatives, accessibility has remained a priority.

Since 2013, the Board of Trustees has reduced tuition and fees twice — making TSC the most affordable higher education institution in the RGV as well as one of the fastest-growing community colleges in the state.

The college’s accessibility goes beyond the cost. On top of its traditional Monday to Friday class schedule, TSC offers evening, online, hybrid, and accelerated six-, eight-, and 12-week courses — and it will soon launch the TSC Beyond Initiative.

This initiative was designed for adult learners in mind and utilizes a hybrid class model through which students can earn an Associate of Arts degree in general studies in under two years.

“Holding a college credential creates resiliency in the workforce,” said TSC Board Chair Ruben Herrera, who is also a TSC alumnus. “Associate degree graduates have access to higher-wage jobs and a degree provides a pathway to advancement for entry-level workers, qualifying them for supervisory positions.”

With all of TSC’s leadership local to the RGV, Herrera said all decisions are made with an understanding of the culture, passions, and priorities of the community.

“We benefit from good leadership and a united board,” Herrera said. “The Board of Trustees, president, and all of the campus leaders work, live, and raise our families right here in the Rio Grande Valley.”

He added that evolving along with the needs of the community has been the key to overcoming challenges and continuing to grow.

In addition to its associate degrees and short-term training programs designed to immediately launch students into the workforce, TSC has a presence in the community’s entire education life cycle by providing STEM camps for local middle schools — and early college high school and dual-credit courses — all at no cost to families.

“The life cycle continues through degree programs that transfer to the university or allow graduates to be employed immediately upon completion,” Herrera said. “After securing employment, continuing education programs and customized corporate training provide community members with the ability to upskill or retrain for an employment opportunity supporting workforce development.”

Workforce development is supported with capital investments. Over the past three years, more than $23 million has gone toward installing new workforce labs and active learning classrooms, as well as keeping the campus up to date with state-of-the-art equipment and technology.

Looking ahead to the next century, leaders see TSC continuing to play a vital role in the region’s growth and development through its investments in its students and the community.

“Above all, TSC will remain committed to student success,” TSC President Dr. Jesús Roberto Rodriguez said. “The strong collaboration between the college and the communities we serve will ensure TSC remains on the front lines of innovation in promoting student academic success and workforce development. Together, we will help keep our communities Scorpion Strong.”

Rocio Villalobos