William Serrata, president of El Paso Community College (Texas), will become chair of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) board of directors on July 1, succeeding Alex Johnson, president of Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio.

Richard Rhodes, president of Austin Community College (Texas), will serve as chair-elect of the board of directors, effective July 1. 

As president of the El Paso Community College (EPCC), Serrata leads an institution that currently offers more than 130 academic programs and more than 350 personal enrichment/continuing education courses at five campuses throughout El Paso County. Serrata is an active member of the El Paso community and serves as a board member on several organizations, including Workforce Solutions Borderplex, Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce, United Way of El Paso, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Federal

College students and their families are wondering about the comparative value of education at different colleges in these changing times of pandemic and its economic aftermath. 

Consumers of higher education may question the cost of high tuition and the benefits received from online teaching due to the pandemic. Lawsuits against colleges have already started around the country, with students claiming that online-only teaching denies them the other college-related experiences they paid high tuition for. 

Some of these lawsuits include claims of “diminished value” due to conversion to online classes and pass/fail grades. At least 100 suits have been filed against U.S. colleges and universities. Concerned families are apprehensive about sending their students back to their colleges and into crowded dorms in the fall, when some if not all college classes may go online again.


Stevani Flahaut's college experience is not one of living on a picturesque campus, rubbing elbows with fellow students fresh out of high school.

A 27-year-old attending Austin Community College, the aspiring restaurateur weaves together a full-time course load and two jobs. While community colleges are sometimes perceived as the stepchildren of higher education, to nearly 700,000 Texans like Flahaut, they are hard-fought professional stepping stones, an avenue for the aspirations of working parents or older students.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, it wasn’t just these students’ education that was upended, but often their entire lives.

“Our students are not your average college students,” said Jan McCauley, a political science professor at Tyler Junior College. “Most of them are working. Many of them are parents. Now, they’re at home and having to teach kids online.”


When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the U.S., and it became clear that it would require a massive shift in day-to-day life, higher education responded quickly. Most colleges and universities quickly extended spring breaks, evaluated the options for educational continuity and, ultimately, transitioned the majority of instruction online for the remainder of the spring semester.

Making such a rapid and massive shift wasn’t easy for anyone. For community colleges, however, it was an especially challenging undertaking. Many community college students do not have access to laptops at home, or they might rely on their colleges for Wi-Fi access.

“Community colleges serve the majority of underrepresented students in the United States,” says Martha Parham, senior vice president of public relations for the American Association of Community Colleges. In addition to technology inequities

Dallas County Community College District chose a third option, which amounted to a Herculean technological workaround in a short time span. 

In a single week, the district of 80,000-plus students toggled from a brick-and-mortar operation to a 100-percent online institution of higher ed. 

District Chief Innovation Officer Tim Marshall said it was no small feat moving the entire district online. Prior to COVID-19, about 40 percent of the district’s students had taken at least one online course while enrolled, according to district information.

“We had to rapidly convert thousands of course sections from face-to-face to online, including configuring our online Learning Management System to allow more than 60,000 students and hundreds of faculty to transition,” he wrote in an email to the Dallas Regional Chamber. “Part of the transition was training more than 200 faculty who had