Coastal Bend College President Dr. John Brockman announced his approaching retirement at the college's recent system-wide convocation held Jan. 8.
The announcement was made official and sanctioned by Coastal Bend College Board of Trustees at yesterday's scheduled monthly meeting.
After 34 years of service, eight of those as president, Brockman's last full day at CBC is slated for Aug. 31, as the college marks the 40th anniversary of the first class convened at then Bee County College the Fall of 1967.
Trustee Chairman, Paul Jaure, said of Brockman, "He's been a real and steady innovative force at the college. He doesn't like to take credit for much, he prefers that his people get the credit, but without Dr. Brockman's initiative, the college would have been out a lot of grant money over the years."
To be more specific, Brockman has worked to increase federal funding from different sources by 98 percent. Annually, CBC receives approximately $9,000,000.00 from the federal government in supplemental revenue.
"That's significant," continued Jaure, "we've been able to expand services to our students and our communities with that money. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that John has never forgotten where he comes from: he's a teacher first. For as long as I've known him he's always looked out for faculty. Because in the end, that's where student success comes from, our faculty."
In that vein, when asked what he was most proud of over the course of his presidency, Brockman responds that he was pleased to see the college's enrollment grow to over 4,000 several years ago.
When Brockman first came to CBC in 1973, total enrollment was less than 1,300 students. Brockman goes on to say that, "During my tenure as president, we added the Pleasanton Campus, continued to expand Internet opportunities, and double the number of students we can reach through our Educational Talent Search Grants. We have been fortunate enough to have been awarded a Title III and two Title V grants, and most recently a collaborative Title V grant, a RUS Agriculture Grant among others, and keep and improve our TRiO grants. This makes federal funds the most significant single source of revenue for the college. Through these grants, we have been able to improve technology, programs, recruiting, and try out innovative ideas.
"CBC was distinguished as one of the original colleges included in the Achieving the Dream program and now we make presentations to new ATD colleges. And CBCs accreditation was reaffirmed in 2005 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. I'm very proud of that."
"That's what I meant," interjects Jaure, "when I said he was innovative. If he hadn't encouraged his staff and supported their efforts to compete for these grants we wouldn't have that revenue today."
"And it always comes down to money, " adds Brockman, "especially for rural colleges." Citing tax revenues he goes on to say, "Tax valuations per student are significantly lower for rural colleges. This is because rural colleges tend to tax a single county, or even a single school district or city, yet these colleges serve multiple counties. At the same time property values in rural areas are significantly less than that of equivalent property in urban areas. An average tax rate for a rural college will bring in much less revenue than the same rate in an urban area. This is why, typically, city, county and college tax rates are higher in rural Texas than in urban Texas.
Brockman continues, "because of a limitation on local tax remedies, smaller, rural colleges have had to raise tuition and fees much more significantly than their urban counterparts. And that's just a fact the college will continue to wrestle with. But, I'm optimistic. We've got a strong faculty, people I'm very proud of, and progressive leadership in place."
Jaure said Brockman would be missed.
"John will be sorely missed by the college community in Texas. If you were to ask others schools they would tell you that of all the presidents in the state, he was always at the forefront of college related issues lobbying at the state level - especially where small, rural colleges are concerned," Jaure said. "He's been the guy out in front battling for other colleges. And, he's really the one that's pushed dialogue forward on a state level regarding district expansion issues."
Brockman said such issues are important.
"Yes, I've spent a lot of time concentrating on promoting the rights of small colleges because achieving equity in how we're dealt with by the legislature is a win for everyone. It's been hard work, but it's important and we've at least got policy makers seriously talking about supporting rural community colleges," he said.
Brockman concludes by saying, "But, as much as I've enjoyed my time here at the college, I want to pursue my personal interests while I still can." Tellingly, however, that still includes CBC.
"In addition to pursuing his fascination with railroads and rail travel, Brockman will continue part time at the college. "I want to work on the early history of the college, collecting documents, identifying photos and slides, and organizing historical records. I look forward to teaching a class or two on the Internet. Like our students, I don't want to be tied down to a particular place at specified times."