Waco colleges join forces to better higher education

By Amanda Tolentino


Waco is the center of the hustle and bustle of three higher education establishments: Baylor University, McLennan Community College and Texas State Technical College.

The relationship between the three institutions is effective because they work together to educate students and develop individual skills for the work force.

Each college collaborates academically with the construction of the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative and the Baylor@MCC co-enrollment program.

TSTC’s Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics & Engineering Research (CASPER) will be incorporated into one of the BRIC’s research centers. This will be one of the first interdisciplinary activities the center completes.

“CASPER is an interdisciplinary university research center that started out 12 years ago as a process of establishing a lab facility,” said Dr. Truell Hyde, vice provost for research, director of CASPER and professor of physics. “There was an agreement between Baylor and TSTC for Baylor to lease a lab space at the TSTC campus.”

Hyde said an additional 45,000 square feet will be added to the BRIC for an advanced work force technology training and development for TSTC programs.

TSTC will also provide the BRIC with technological support to Texas businesses, 3D modeling and testing facilities.

Hyde said Baylor has a good partnership with TSTC because the CASPER lab can give TSTC graduates higher starting salaries, and Baylor students and faculty can learn from TSTC faculty and students about the technology in the lab.

“TSTC is a jewel in the Waco community. It provides training for national labs for students coming out of high school,” Hyde said. “It makes both sides stronger and provides the local community with a caliber work force from technicians in the lab to the Ph.D.’s in the lab.”

Another Baylor collaboration is the co-enrollment program with MCC. The program is for students who qualify for Baylor admissions acceptance but cannot be accepted due to space constraints.

“The program is for students who entered the regular admissions pool, but were waitlisted,” said Diana Ramey, associate vice president of enrollment management.

During their freshman year of college, students can co-enroll for both institutions while taking classes at Baylor and MCC. Students can choose to join the program for either one or two years and live in the Kokernot and Martin Residence Halls.

Ramey said she thinks the program has proven to be a great collaboration between the two campuses. Ramey said students can benefit from living on Baylor’s campus, as well as getting to know the community more than they would if they had only attended Baylor.

“It’s been great for students to develop relationships,” Ramey said. “We anticipated the program to be beneficial for Waco students, but we’ve also received students from outside of Waco and Texas.”

Emily Stottlemyre, MCC associate professor of child development, said the relationship between faculty and students from each institution is beneficial.

“I think it’s favorable for MCC students,” Stottlemyre said. “It’s great that Baylor recognizes the strengths MCC students have.”

Stottlemyre said MCC provides a financial opportunity for MCC students that serves as a foundation for them to receive recognition from Baylor.

“You’re either Baylor or MCC. I guess I feel that MCC and Baylor are in a way connected, but not very much,” said Robinson junior Miriam Hernandez.

Hernandez went to MCC for two years before attending Baylor.

Hallettsville TSTC student Dylan Barton said it would be great if they all worked to pull their resources together. Barton said he has no bias toward Baylor or MCC because each institution educates students differently.

“I think it would be a good idea if somehow students from Baylor could take credits at TSTC and vice versa,” Barton said.

Mart TSTC automotive program student Justin Allen said students at Baylor tend to be wealthier than those at TSTC.

“People also tend to think TSTC is not as high up as Baylor, but each one has a different environment setting,” Allen said.

Sugar Land TSTC student Stephen Mathews said Baylor plays an important role in Waco.

“Waco is where education is supposed to be and I think that influences MCC and TSTC,” said Mathews.

Wylie junior Megan Judd also said Waco is a center for education.

“MCC and TSTC shouldn’t be discredited even though they aren’t four-year universities. College should be an ultimate goal for people and Waco seems to be at the center of it,” Judd said.