Corpus Christi Caller Times: Higher Education Summit Discusses Ways to Help Impact Future of Growing Population
By Elaine Marsilio
Friday, November 11, 2011
CORPUS CHRISTI — The future of Texas depends on higher education.
That was the message the state’s former demographer delivered to more than 400 attendees Thursday during a summit at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi focused on a growing Hispanic population.
Steve Murdock, a sociology professor at Rice University, said a college degree can help students compete for jobs and be prepared for the workforce.
“How well they do is how well Texas and the United States of America will do,” he said.
And there could be detrimental socioeconomic and demographic effects, he said, if nothing is done to address the tie between the elements.
The projected result, if nothing is done is 30 percent of the state labor force wouldn’t have a high school diploma by 2040, Murdock said.
That’s compared to about 19 percent in 2000.
“It shows education pays,” Murdock said.
Murdock was one of several speakers at the Higher Education Summit, an event sponsored by the campaign to elect state Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, along with Del Mar College and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
Other speakers included state Comptroller Susan Combs and Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp.
Hunter said the event information will be summarized and distributed to state legislators to help shape higher education legislation for the 2013 legislative session.
Local educators, event speakers and business leaders said Thursday it is going to take a group effort to address the higher education needs of all students.
Del Mar College President Mark Escamilla said the question of how educators and business leaders will address demands of the economy will continue to be an organic conversation.
He said the two-year school works with an advisory group of business leaders who tell Del Mar officials what they want from graduates, and the group shapes technical and vocational curriculum to their needs.
Many educators agreed there is always room for improvement.
A&M-Corpus Christi President Flavius Killebrew said there is a value to higher education and officials in that field work with entities such as the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the legislative House Higher Education Committee to relay information.
Local educators say a majority of the students who go to college in the Coastal Bend tend to stay and contribute to the local workforce.
People must embrace the idea of reinvesting in higher education, particularly for Hispanics, to help the local and state economy be successful, said Rosie Collin, president and chief executive officer of the Corpus Christi Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
The more educated Hispanics are, the more they can give back to their community, she said.
Large chambers of commerce across the state, including Corpus Christi’s chamber, already are involved in conversations about keeping higher education at the forefront during the next legislative session, said Foster Edwards, president and chief executive officer of the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce.
The agenda for the legislative session is set before the next session even begins, he said
“The way to be effective is to be there when the agenda is set and when the plans are made, and that’s now,” he said.