Johnson Foundation grant to aid Victoria College’s Emerging Technology Center

Jennifer Yancey

To help train and educate an expanding South Texas workforce, Victoria College has received a $2.5 million grant from the M.G. & Lillie A. Johnson Foundation.

The grant will be used in three areas, college officials said.

The largest part of the grant, $1.98 million, will help offset equipment costs for programs that will be housed in VC’s new Emerging Technology Center. The Johnson Foundation scholarship endowment will receive $300,000, and $200,000 will fund a new scholarship program to support students in allied health programs through completion of a certificate or degree.

The new allied health scholarship will provide a full scholarship to numerous students accepted into one of the College’s certificate and degree programs. These include Associate Degree Nursing, Vocational Nursing, Medical Laboratory Technology, Respiratory Care and Physical Therapist Assistant, according to Jennifer Yancey, Victoria College vice president of College Advancement and External Affairs.

The $300,000 contribution to the VC Foundation’s scholarship endowment will support recent high school graduates, students returning to school later in life, and the College’s Distinguished Scholar initiative.

Addressing the scholarship grant, Robert Halepeska, executive vice president of the M.G. & Lillie A. Johnson Foundation, said “It is essential to help provide support to future healthcare workers.”

Victoria College officials expressed appreciation for the grant and explained its importance not only for the school, but for the community as well.

“The grant from the Johnson Foundation will allow us to create a state-of-the-art facility with new equipment and technology,” said Dr. Tom Butler, Victoria College president. “It allows us to meet rapidly changing community needs for training and workforce development.”

Yancey echoed Butler by saying, “Marshall and Lillie Johnson, through their commitment to the community, have helped thousands of VC students achieve their educational dreams. The generosity of the Johnsons, carried on through their Foundation executive vice president and its board of trustees, has touched the lives of so many for so long. They have faithfully supported scholarships, facilities, student services, equipment and program development.”

The $1.9 million will be used for instructional and presentation technology, communication systems and security – along with equipment to expand/implement training programs. The equipment supported by the grant is required for VC’s welding, machining and industrial systems mechanic programs, as well as all computer labs and necessary technical equipment.

“The M.G. & Lille A. Johnson Foundation traditionally supports programs and services centered around allied health, but the board of directors saw the Emerging Technology Center as one of the biggest needs in the region right now,” Halepeska said. “They saw a dire need and knew this support would have the greatest impact on our region.”

He said the board could not think of a better way to invest the funds.

In May 2012, Victoria County voters approved a $22 million general obligation bond to support VC’s master plan, which includes construction of the Emerging Technology Center. Groundbreaking will occur this spring and the building is expected to be completed in approximately 16 months with classes beginning in the new facility shortly thereafter.

The Emerging Technology Center will prepare students for in-demand jobs in the South Texas Golden Crescent area and meet the training needs of business and industry. The Center will be located on 13 acres of land, donated by the city of Victoria, in the Lone Tree Industrial Park across from the Caterpillar plant.

Butler said VC’s workforce and continuing education courses will be moved to the Center, freeing up space on the main campus for new programs. 

The Center will offer workforce training in in-demand areas such as:
-    Industrial systems mechanic
-    Machinist
-    Oil and gas technicians
-    Logistics and operations management

College officials say the Center will support customized training needs for new and existing business and industry by creating a pipeline of skilled employees. There will be opportunities for community members, foundations, business and industry to support the innovative technology and training programs at the new center, they added. Anyone interested in learning more about the Center may contact Jennifer Yancey at or 361-582-2519.

Victoria College serves an eight-county, 7,000 square-mile area in the Golden Crescent region of South Texas, providing both credit and noncredit educational and training opportunities. The school’s average enrollment includes 4,300 credit students each semester. For the 2011-12 academic year, there were nearly 4,000 students enrolled in workforce and continuing education courses at Victoria College, according to Joyce Miller, research technician.

Published: Thursday, 14 February 2013

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