VC Board of Trustees chair is advocate for community colleges statewide

Ron Walker

Victoria College and citizens of South Texas have benefited from Victoria attorney Ron Walker’s commitment to the community college cause while serving as chair of the VC Board of Trustees for the past seven years. This year, community colleges across the state are also reaping the benefits of his advocacy efforts.

Walker represents the Southeast Texas Region on the board of the Community College Association of Texas Trustees (CCATT), a statewide organization that provides advocacy and professional development to members of the governing boards of the 50 community colleges in Texas. He currently serves on the CCATT board’s Education and Strategic Planning committees and was recently nominated for another term on the nine-member board.

Walker said CCATT is a fairly new organization that has become “vibrant” over the last two or three years. It was created to inform trustees of the best practices of other colleges and to lobby for laws favorable to community colleges.

Earlier this legislative session, Walker and other trustees met with area lawmakers Rep. Geanie Morrison and Sen. Lois Kolkhorst and spoke with them on the phone, explaining where community colleges fit into the state budget.

“In a year where there’s more money in the state budget, we were asking that $130 million be added to the community college allocation, although this still wouldn’t have brought us back to where we were four years ago,” Walker said. “Unfortunately, lawmakers’ actions were a far cry from where we need to be. For community colleges to perform the functions they have been doing, we are going to have to receive sufficient state funding.”

During the legislative session, Walker traveled to Austin several times to visit with legislators and Conference Committee members. As advocacy efforts increase in the next legislative session, those visits will probably double, he said.

CCATT Director Jennifer Poteat-Phelps expressed her admiration for Walker’s service on the board, describing him as “an excellent statewide advocate.”

When we have situations in Austin where we need a strong advocacy voice, not only does Chairman Walker reach out to elected officials, he also creates a strong network,” Poteat-Phelps said. “He brings in all the stakeholders for his community. In leadership positions, Chairman Walker knows it’s all about communication, setting expectations and adhering to the needs of the community.”

Because of his work on the CCATT board, Walker was asked to serve on a panel during the board’s June 5-6 annual conference in San Antonio, Poteat-Phelps said. Walker and VC President Dr. Tom Butler will discuss methods the college uses to achieve student success.

Walker has served on the VC Board of Trustees for 30 years and was elected chair in May 2008.

He said he has made new friends during his CCATT service and finds membership rewarding and fun.

He hopes to hold a CCATT regional meeting at Victoria College’s new Emerging Technology Complex so trustees from Wharton County Junior College, Coastal Bend College and Del Mar College can meet and attend seminars.

Although CCATT community colleges didn’t get the funding they were requesting, Walker hopes CCATT had an impact on legislators this session and believes its members will be working hard again next session.

"One of things we have accomplished is to let legislators know we are out here and that local people are really dedicated to community colleges,” Walker said.

Published: Thursday, 28 May 2015

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