Highlands Rotary heard recently about the role Lee College plays in the community, presented by Board Member Don Coffey. Judge Coffey has been a board member since 1984.
Coffey said that Lee College started as a post graduate study program of the Goose Creek school district, in 1934. It was only the second community college in the whole state of Texas.
In 1950, they decided to build a separate campus on the present site. It has grown to its current $50 million dollar yearly budget, and now has students in academic and vocational programs.
In February, Lee College will get a new president, Dr. Dennis Brown, coming from El Paso Community College. Brown was the choice of 39 applicants for the position, Coffey said.
Programs at the college include continuing education as well as academics and vocational. Goose Creek CISD is the only local school district that is affiliated with Lee, and therefore residents get a reduced tuition rate as in district students.
Many of the students at Lee to on to high paying technical jobs in the refining industry surrounding Baytown. If they stay with these companies, they retire with pension plans invested to over a million dollars, typically. Therefore the college has been very good for the community and the job opportunities.
Recent construction at the college includes a new $17 million dollar Performing Arts Building, paid for by Tuition Revenue Bonds. The building includes a 700 seat theater, a 150 seat black box experimental theater, and a concert hall.
Lees athletic program includes basketball scholarships, and a new volleyball program.
Other new facilities include a Library and Resource Center. Coffey recommends the Arena and Wellness Center as outstanding facilities which are open to the public.
He said that many Lee College students continue their education at full four year colleges after their time at Lee.