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Texas and Scotland face similar education, economic challenges

The thistles of Scotland and the yellow rose of Texas have several things in common: higher education, economic development and the Dallas County Community College District.

Collaborating on international education agreements, digital technology and solutions to the economic challenges of a global world were the focus of discussions on June 2 when the Right Honorable David Mundell MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, and Dr. Joe May, DCCCD’s chancellor, met to explore common ground and expand partnership opportunities in all of those areas.

Mundell visited DCCCD’s LeCroy Center and Richland College as part of his efforts to forge new links between colleges in Dallas and Scotland. Last year, Richland College signed a transfer agreement with Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen for students who want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in international business once they graduate from a DCCCD college. Richland College officials and May conducted a meeting with RGU administrators “across the pond” to discuss ways to bring more DCCCD students overseas to Scotland.

“The approach you are taking – the value that DCCCD places on the education and business sectors – really impressed me,” Mundell said. “Good further education provisions can set a student off on a career that will last a lifetime and can give businesses the skilled young people they need to grow. The partnerships we are establishing today will be of benefit to students in both Scotland and Dallas.”

“We are proud of Richland’s partnership with Robert Gordon University and, when other colleges are interested, we are ready to reach across the globe and establish more partnerships,” May said. “We want to help our graduates, who will help our businesses and communities be successful, so that we all can enjoy a better quality of life.”

Both leaders discussed major factors that tie Texas and Scotland together: education, global economy, oil and the challenges both face in terms of employment as the oil industry changes around the world. They also talked about information technology and the employment opportunities that go unfilled because workers lack the qualifications they need for those high-tech jobs – skills which companies need that are relocating to the Dallas area. Many of those new companies are international, according to May.

“Richland College is committed to increasing access to global education for students who may not otherwise have opportunities,” Dr. Zarina Blankenbaker, vice president of academic affairs and student success at Richland, said. “We are eager to explore additional areas of partnership with Robert Gordon University and other institutions of higher education in Scotland. We believe that it is our responsibility to build a sustainable local and world community.”

Mundell also toured Richland’s Motion Capture Lab, where he spent some hands-on time with digital motion capture equipment during a videogaming experience. Richland students and faculty presented the secretary with a commemorative keychain created with their 3D printer.

As the secretary prepared to leave with Consul General Karen Bell from Houston and other staff members, May presented him with a Texas flag which had flown over the Capitol in Austin as well as several other mementos of his visit. Mundell also shared gifts from Scotland with the chancellor for DCCCD.

Mundell, who visited Houston, also was in Texas to promote the skills, expertise and innovation of North Sea oil and gas to investors and stakeholders in the state.
SOURCE Dallas County Community College District