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Richland Student Media

Richland Student Media

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Richland Chronicle 5/07/24
Richland Chronicle 5/07/24

Chancellor Lonon: Dallas College year in review

Dr.+Justin+Lonon%2C+the+chancellor+of+Dallas+College%2C+speaks+with+the+Chronicle+about+the+year+past+and+the+one+to+come.
Photo/Dallas College
Dr. Justin Lonon, the chancellor of Dallas College, speaks with the Chronicle about the year past and the one to come.

The end of the year is often a time for looking back to celebrate accomplishments and looking ahead to plan for the year to come. In this interview with the Chronicle, Chancellor Justin Lonon talks about where Dallas College stands at the end of this semester, the work he and his staff have done that he wants to recognize, and any goals that he is working to complete in 2024.
Q: Looking back at this past year, what accomplishments or milestones do you feel particularly proud of regarding Dallas College?
A: “We have a lot to be proud of at Dallas College. And so you know, there are certainly things, like we graduated our first group of students with their four-year degree in early childhood education this past May. They also, you know, found jobs in classrooms which is certainly the intent and I’m certainly pleased with some of the facilities’ enhancements that we’ve done through the 2019 bond initiative and as we kicked off and did groundbreakings and launching their buildings. So I look for-ward to those coming online and opening this next year.” “Ultimately, we want to get people into jobs and so when I’m going to think back to commencement back in May, you know, we had about 12,500 graduate this year. And you know, about a third of those were first-generation college students. Seventy-one percent were female and about 85% were students of color. And so, you know, I’m very proud of the work that we do have Dallas College to support our communities, and I think those graduates are reflected in them.”
Q: What were some of the most significant challenges or obstacles this institution faced this year? And how were they addressed, if at all? And if there weren’t any challenges that you could address, how will you work to address them in the future?
A: “Clearly there’re always challenges with an institution this size. Um, you know, certainly we’re coming out of the consolidation, and we’re still a relatively new institution built on the amazing legacy in history of DCCCD. And so there’s certainly process challenges that we’ve had to work through to figure out what is the Dallas College way. To do these things, it’s been some of those issues and challenges that we’ve had to work through. We know that we moved to some new systems, around Brightspace and Workday and you know, systems designed to provide a better experience. That doesn’t mean better experience happens on day one when you launch those. And so working through those and learning from those.
“And then, you know, say also paying attention to shifting state policy and federal policy as well, and the impact that that has on our students and us as a college. So certainly, during the legislative session, there were challenges to ensure that we could help support the best version of whatever legislation may be under consideration. And we certainly add some successes along the way and in doing that, whether it was helping to improve something like Senate Bill 17, the anti-DEI legislation.”
Q: Are there any innovative programs or relationships established this past year that have kind of had a positive impact on our community? And if there’s not any that specifically come to mind from this year, are there any that you’re looking to make?
A: “A couple examples I’m about to give are going to cross multiple years, but certainly expanding childcare, with what we launched this year as we seek to expand that to other campuses. This next year is going to be important, with access to quality health care. I’m really excited that we’re partnering with Parkland at Richland for Parkland to build that new community campus. So that will serve the community, it’ll serve our students and employees, get them access to help care and provide an opportunity for our health students, you know, to engage in that space.”
Q: What specific goals or priorities does the institution have for the upcoming year and how do they align with the long-term vision of the college?
A: “It begins with… continuing to look for the barriers that we can address, and support students inside the classroom and outside the classroom. So, we’re going to, we’re going to continue to invest in those expand on those. I certainly am challenging how our employer community to help develop new learn and earn models. Our students that, you know, the majority have to work. And why not give students some real-world experience? As I said, really looking at our course offerings and our schedules around more nights and weekends so we can really expand online to provide more flexibility. And then, also, really looking at our international programs and services. How can we expand international offerings and outcomes with, you know, increasingly supporting our international students? And then the other thing is we’re going to launch a new four-year degree in nursing this next year. And so, to continue to build on the success of our early childhood bachelor’s degree getting introduced, the nursing one, and then plan for one in technology next year.”
Q: Are there any last messages that you had for students that you’d like to give them as we head into finals, winter term classes and the holidays?
A: “The first one is good luck as you head into those end-of-semester activities. And, you know, we looked forward to students returning in January for the spring semester and as always, whether it’s through different student organizations or clubs, through the student media outlets or through the student government association, let us know what students need and what’s on their mind because everyone that works in Dallas College is here for you, and here for students. And we want to do everything we can to support you on your journey.”

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