Blinn board approves landscaping improvements at Bryan campus

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX)- The Blinn College Board of Trustees received an update regarding the College’s partnership with the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) at the RELLIS Campus, approved the hire of a new Vice President for Business and Finance, and authorized a contract for landscaping improvements at the Bryan Campus during its regular meeting Tuesday.

Texas A&M University System Director of Special Academic Initiatives Dr. James K. Nelson, TEEX Director Gary Sera, and TEEX Manager of Education and Training Initiatives Mark Posada discussed the long partnership between TEEX and Blinn in training police officers and fire fighters, and discussed the vision for future partnerships in meeting Brazos County’s growing demand for workforce training programs.

“We really treasure our partnerships here with Blinn,” Posada said. “Out of the 170,000 people TEEX provides training for each year, about one quarter of that is delivered here in town. We really like our partnership with Blinn because it helps us reach more of the community.”

In December 2016, The Texas A&M University System, TEEX, and Blinn announced that they will partner to provide training for the targeted occupations identified specifically by the Workforce Solutions Brazos Valley Board and as confirmed by each institution’s market research. The Texas A&M System and Blinn announced last month that they have engaged the Parthenon-EY practice of Ernst & Young LLP to provide a report on industries’ needs and labor conditions in the eight-county region centered around Brazos County.

Beginning in June, RELLIS will begin hosting construction trades programs at the RELLIS Campus, including carpentry, plumbing, and electrician training. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) safety training will also be an important component of the workforce training programs offered at RELLIS.

“It’s a phenomenal team that we have working on this,” Nelson said.

Nelson told the board that an external advisory committee has been formed to assist The Texas A&M System, TEEX, and Blinn in identifying local workforce needs and obtaining feedback regarding the programs being developed for RELLIS.

In December, Blinn and TEEX announced a Memorandum of Understanding outlining their partnership to meet Brazos County’s growing demand for workforce training programs. Per the agreement, TEEX and Blinn will work together to provide training for the targeted occupations identified specifically by the Workforce Solutions Brazos Valley Board and as confirmed by each institution’s market research related to training needs in the Brazos Valley.

In other business, Blinn named Richard Cervantes, a 35-year veteran of higher education, its new Vice President for Business and Finance. Cervantes comes to Blinn from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, where he served as Vice President of Administration and Finance and led the preparation of a $180 million annual budget.

In that role, Cervantes oversaw the design, construction, and financing of a $15 million chemistry building, and strategically administered over $100 million in university investments.

He previously served as the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology’s Associate Vice President of Research and Economic Development, where he provided administrative and operational support for the construction of the $70 million, world-class Magdalena Ridge Observatory and negotiated a $25 million award with the Air Force Research Lab to continue the observatory’s construction and operations.

Cervantes earned his Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Science in accounting from the University of North Texas, and is a certified public accountant.

The board also approved $404,260 in landscaping improvements to the Bryan Campus as the second phase of an overall campus beautification plan. These improvements include landscaping work on the College’s Blinn Boulevard entrance from Villa Maria Road, the installation of lighting and community space enhancements in the Student Center courtyard, and the construction of a geo-garden on the west side of the G Building that will become a teaching environment for the Geology Department.