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SJC to launch cost-cutting open source degree program

Written by staff. Posted in Schools

SJC OER: Dr. Laurel Williamson, San Jacinto College deputy chancellor and president, discusses the new Open Educational Resources degree program with Mark Johnson, North Campus English and modern languages department chair. Photo credit: Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department.

San Jacinto College is preparing to launch a general studies associate degree program that will provide significant cost savings to students due to not purchasing traditional course materials such as high-cost textbooks.

In lieu of traditional print textbooks that can cost as much as $300 per copy, students who participate in the new program will use digital Open Educational Resources course materials which are free and accessible online. San Jacinto College full-time students currently pay approximately $700 per semester for printed textbooks, which amounts to nearly one-third of the total spent on tuition, fees and textbooks per term.

San Jacinto College will pilot OER courses during the spring 2017 semester and the full OER general studies associate degree program is tentatively scheduled to be available for students with the start of the fall 2017 term.

Some San Jacinto College faculty have already been using free OER materials on a limited basis but the new general studies associate degree program will make exclusive use of OER material as curriculum, which will be a first for the College.

The OER concept, informally called “open source,” is becoming more widespread among colleges and universities around the nation. “Free, open source materials have been used by many faculty around the country for some time now,” said Mark Johnson, SJC North Campus English and modern languages department chair. “OER degrees have been started at colleges in Virginia and New York and provided dramatic savings for students. For example, students at Virginia’s Tidewater College saved over $60,000 in textbook costs during the first semester of its OER degree launch. Tidewater also had a significant increase in student completion rates in its OER courses” said Johnson.

Johnson is coordinating the launch of San Jacinto College’s OER general studies associate degree program and recently attended a national OER conference in San Francisco. At the conference, he learned that OER classes have other benefits in addition to reducing costs. “With OER materials, instructors actually have more higher quality materials than ever before, with OER, rather than textbook publishers determining course content, faculty share their expertise and take the lead role as subject matter experts who choose, review and create free and sharable course texts. More importantly, when our faculty use OER material they become heroes to students by removing financial barriers and creating equity in education in a way that’s never been done on such a large scale” said Johnson.

The launch of San Jacinto College’s OER general studies associate degree is supported in part by a $74,676 grant from Achieving the Dream through Austin Community College, the main recipient in Texas and one of four partners in the project. Other partners are El Paso Community College and Alamo Community College. Money from the grant will pay faculty to develop courses and help pay for faculty training. The result will be courses where students do not pay for course materials.

Courses based on open source curricula can even be more effective, than courses that employ printed textbooks, said Dr. Laurel Williamson, San Jacinto College deputy chancellor and president. “Using open source materials provides a great deal of flexibility because faculty and students are not locked into the use of a specific text for a two- to three-year period, there is no issue with publishers going to new editions or making changes to an expensive text after it has been in print for a single year” said Williamson.

Williamson said there will be a rigorous review of all OER course materials by faculty members. “The quality of the curriculum will be comparable to what is available in traditional textbooks, we will continue to maintain the high standards we expect in the classroom, but no longer will a student have to choose between buying the textbook or paying the rent. Research shows that student performance may improve because students no longer try and complete course work without the expensive textbooks. The course-supporting materials are available at no cost. This extends the open access for students that is a critical part of the community college mission and supports the central mission of San Jacinto College: student success” said Williamson.

Bond marketing and PR campaign strikes gold

Written by staff. Posted in Schools

SJC PSRASan Jacinto College received a Gold Excalibur Award from the Public Relations Society of America Houston Chapter for the development and execution of the 2015 San Jac Tomorrow bond referendum marketing and public relations campaign. Pictured, left to right, at the Excalibur Awards dinner are: Joshua Banks, director, digital marketing; Janet Cowey, director, marketing; Amanda Fenwick, vice president, marketing and public relations; Jeannie Peng Mansyur, senior communications coordinator; and Jahmal Clemons, social media coordinator. Submitted photo.

San Jacinto College is among the winners of the Public Relations Society of America Houston Chapter’s 2016 Excalibur Awards, which honors outstanding professional accomplishments in the development and execution of comprehensive public relations programs and individual tactics.

The College struck gold when it was awarded a gold Excalibur Award in the government / public affairs category from PRSA Houston for its development and execution of the 2015 San Jac Tomorrow bond referendum marketing and public relations campaign. The campaign aimed to provide information about the bond referendum and San Jacinto College to citizens and voters that live in the College district.

“This award was a total team effort,” said Teri Crawford, vice chancellor, marketing, public relations and government affairs at San Jacinto College. “I am extremely proud of our entire marketing and public relations team, as well as the many individuals throughout the College and our community who helped provide information about the College and the bond referendum leading up to Election Day. It is a great honor to be recognized for our work by our PRSA peers and we thank them for this recognition” said Crawford.

Voters in the San Jacinto College District approved the $425 million bond referendum on Nov. 3, 2015, by nearly 68 percent approval rate. More than five times the number of voters cast a vote in this bond election than they did in the College’s previous bond election in 2008.

SJC Cosmetology students help DP girls prepare for dance

Written by staff. Posted in Schools


Thanks to San Jacinto College cosmetology students, a group of young girls received special treatment to help them get ready for their Daddy-Daughter dance.

The group visited the College’s Central Campus cosmetology salon, where each girl received complete “beauty queen” treatment which was sponsored by the city of Deer Park. The pamper packages included makeup, hair styling and manicures.

Cori Grissom said she is looking forward to the dance as she had her nails painted burgundy (to match her dress) by a San Jacinto College cosmetology student. “My dad is really cool and a lot of fun, he is a pretty good dancer, but he can be a little clumsy, but he never has stepped on my feet” said Cori, a 9-year-old fourth-grader at Deer Park Elementary School. This is the fourth year for Cori to participate in the Daddy-Daughter Dance with her father Brad Grissom.

Tiffany Ramos, program aid leader for the city of Deer Park who escorted the girls to the College, said the visit to the salon was a highlight for all of the girls. “We truly appreciate the San Jacinto College cosmetology department for taking the time to put a smile on every single one of the girls, the staff and students did a wonderful job. A big thanks to San Jacinto College for letting the city of Deer Park use their facility for the afternoon. Many of the girls said they want to go again. It was very special for them to get out with their friends and get pampered for the day. The hair styles, makeup and nails looked amazing” said Tiffany Ramos.

Extracurricular projects provide San Jacinto College cosmetology students opportunities to work with people of all ages, said Kay Richardson, San Jacinto College Central Campus consumer services and automotive technology department chair.

“The cosmetology students thoroughly enjoy working within the community, our department has hosted similar community outreach events, such as hosting senior citizen groups and visitors from Cenikor. Such events provide students a wide variety of experience with various clienteles. There is no better feeling than helping people feel and look better.” said Kay Richardson.

Cosmetology student Christina Honeycutt said the pamper session was not only fun, it was also educational. “Working with pre-teens is an awesome experience, you learn a lot about new trends of hairstyles that are out there and what the girls personally like" said Honeycutt.

“Many adults have colored their hair for years, or their hair texture and color has changed due to age, most pre-teens have no color in their hair, so the hair is softer, easy to style, there is no damage to the hair (physically or chemically), and the layer of the hair (the cuticle) stays in tact.” said Honeycutt.

“I absolutely enjoyed the girls’ visit they bring so much joy and happiness to an environment that sometimes can be chaotic and hectic. They really made me laugh with funny stories about their previous daddy-daughter dances" said Honeycutt.

Honeycutt said she likes cosmetology because it’s a challenging, yet rewarding career field. “Just to know that you can make someone’s day by making them feel special and beautiful is an amazing and a wonderful feeling, I also enjoy learning new cosmetology tricks and trends and just the atmosphere of a team that works together to make people feel great about themselves and to make clients happy and refreshed. The satisfaction of that is rewarding – knowing that I can make clients feel better about themselves" said Honeycutt.

San Jacinto College offers cosmetology courses and degree plans at all three campuses. To find out more, please visit

Cothran sworn in to DPISD Board

Written by Holly Galvan. Posted in Schools

The Deer Park ISD Board of Trustees adjusted the school day schedule to add 15 additional minutes of instructional time. Also at the meeting, new Trustee Brenda Cothran was sworn in to fill the unexpired term of long-time Trustee Donna Thomas.

Bank of America continues support of SJC program

Written by staff. Posted in Schools

sjc logoeditedThe San Jacinto College’s Energy Education and Career Corps program, facilitated through the San Jacinto College engineering design graphics department, recently received a $20,000 workforce development and education grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Approaching its fourth year, the EECC was developed in 2013 to provide technical STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) college students paid real-time workforce training with an energy or energy-related company. Each year, 12 students in the College’s engineering design graphics program are selected to participate in the EECC program, which includes undergoing an internship with a local engineering drafting design firm, financial education training provided by Bank of America and career preparation classes covering job search strategies, employer networking, business etiquette, resume building and career counseling. The grant supports the internship stipends the students receive during their participation in the EECC program. To date, the EECC has seen 36 students complete the program.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for these students since for most, it’s their first job in the drafting profession,” said Mary Ann Blake, San Jacinto College engineering design graphics professor. “The industry partnerships that develop between the employers and the College also create an invaluable perspective on the skills being sought by industry.”

Getting hands-on, real world experience made the program worthwhile to student Juan Carlos Morales. “While working as an estimating and design intern for AHI Supply, I have learned additional skills which have taken me to a new level of experience that I am confident I will apply in a prospective position,” said Morales. “I am looking forward to a brighter future in the drafting industry where I can apply everything I’ve been learning in class and the experience I had in the EECC internship program.”

For EDG student Alan Campos, who graduated in spring, the EECC internship not only helped further his industry experience, but also helped ease some of the financial strain his family is experiencing. “With the current downturn in the oil industry, my employer has cut down our working hours from 40 to 32 hours per week for at least six months,” said Campos. “In February my wife and I became parents to twin boys, so this stipend has helped me cover tuition and some medical bills, which I could not be more grateful for.”

The one-on-one industry training students receive at their internship site remains the greatest advantage to programs like the EECC. Students are given an inside look at industry and employer expectations and the work environment itself, which will become an advantage once they begin their job search or apply to university programs after completing the EDG program.

“For the past four years, Bank of America has supported San Jacinto College’s Energy Education and Career Corps Program to help students acquire the necessary skills to garner energy-related jobs in one of Houston’s largest industries through a combination of expert training, education, support and mentorship,” said Hong Ogle, Bank of America Houston president. “We are committed to San Jacinto College’s mission because we believe that we must arm our students with the right skills training for long-term success and assist in the creation of greater opportunities to foster a strong, capable and diverse workforce in Houston - and San Jacinto College’s efforts are doing just that.”

For more information on the San Jacinto College engineering design graphics program, visit