The philosopher Roger Scruton once said, “Good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created.” In the same way, it’s easier to complain than to be constructive.
Jay Saad, current vice chair of the Collin College board, and Cathie Alexander are both in the board’s runoff election on June 10; both of them support the college, which is highly successful and a benefit to the community. On the other hand, their opponents, Scott Coleman and Stacey Donald (a current board member), complain about the college’s leadership and direction. Let’s examine the evidence.
Scott Coleman says he will “beat extreme views” and is “free from silly politics”, yet he is far from that. A quick read of his Twitter feed shows him to be almost exclusively concerned with politics, supporting of groups like Moms Demand Action (an anti-guns rights group) and being against educational freedom for elementary and high school students. He is also an ally of a local Democrat operative, Steven Spainhouer (who has been exposed by Allen PD for misrepresenting the truth about his involvement in the recent mall shooting). Coleman is not at all “free from silly politics.” Coleman claims there is a “lack of support” for the faculty. Jay Saad, on the other hand, has a proven track record in this regard. Instead of tweeting about “silly politics”, Saad focuses his energies on making Collin College a great place to study and work.
Stacey Donald, a current board member, is more brazen about her political beliefs. She supports introducing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives to Collin College; DEI is the practical outworking of critical race theory (CRT). Additionally, Donald is anti-American, routinely turning her back to the flag during the pledge at board meetings. She is a radical far-left progressive and has been agitating to implement her extreme views in the college. She posts photos of herself wearing obscene t-shirts and other offensive images on her social media. Neither Scott Coleman nor Stacey Donald ought to be leading any institution, much less one of higher learning that is a crowning jewel of Collin County.
So, let’s take a closer look at Collin College and why it must be preserved from those who would tear it down. While nationwide undergraduate college enrollment has dropped by 8 percent from 2019 to 2022, Collin continues to see growth. In 2022, enrollment was at 57,118, making the college one of the largest in Texas. The number of students enrolled is up by more than 4,000 from 2016 (according to the Collin College annual report, 2021-2022). And it is no surprise why—tuition is $62/credit hour, compared to more than $200/credit hour at other leading state universities. Course offerings meet the needs of local students and the community, and the college places a priority on student success (offering free mental health services and job interview training, for example).
While under the leadership of Jay Saad, the board’s construction committee supervised the opening of four new campuses in the past four years, all completed on time and under budget, attracting more students with their course offerings and convenient locations. Despite these new projects, Collin College has the second-lowest tax rate in the state, saving Collin County residents their hard-earned money every year. The board prioritizes the community by managing the college’s resources well and providing excellent service to the county. In 2022, Collin College had over a $900,000,000 economic impact on the region, and it will continue to give back to the community in the coming years.
Saad explains Collin College is highly responsive to the needs of the local workforce. When several local hospitals and health systems expressed a need for nursing administration, the college developed the Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Clinical Operations Management degree. When the need for construction management grew, the college offered the BAS in Construction Management. Additionally, Collin College offers a BS in Nursing and Bachelor of Applied Technology in Cyber Security. These degrees allow students to graduate and move into desirable jobs (entry-level cyber security grads can have a starting salary of $100,000), without the heavy debt burdens many of their big state school peers.
In addition to their bachelor degrees, Collin College offers multiple associates degrees (AA) in fields that are in high demand locally—such as HVAC, welding, automotive technology, construction technology (carpentry, electrical, plumbing)—enabling students and graduates to quickly enter the workforce. There are also multiple core courses that prepare students to transfer easily to other colleges or universities. Collin students and graduates believe their education at Collin College is a benefit. According to a recent survey, when asked if they would pursue their degree again at Collin College, 85 percent of responding graduates said yes, indicating a high level of satisfaction among graduates.
Rudy Castillo is one such graduate. The college’s flexibility allowed him to pursue his education while working. Now, Castillo is a current adjunct faculty member at the college, assisting other students with their educational goals. Another student, Andrew, said to Cathie Alexander, “I tried to go to UNT [or] UTD, but I am a pocketbook and a number there. But I’m a person at Collin College.”
Collin College’s dual credit program is popular with local high schoolers and homeschoolers. According to the college, “Dual credit programs allow high school students to take college-level courses in a variety of subject areas, for which students can receive both high school and college credit toward an associate degree, specialized certifications or to carry forward as students enter two- or four-year colleges and universities.” Allen High School has a dual enrollment Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program for their students to graduate with an associate degree along with their high school degree. Dual enrollment saves the student (public, private or homeschool student) time and money, all while gaining a top-notch education. In the 2023 graduating class, between 15-20 percent graduates were dual enrollment high schoolers with a head start on their future.
Collin College is also a desirable place to work. Saad says the board routinely evaluates staff and faculty compensation to keep up with rising costs and to be competitive in the industry. Despite the complaints of a tiny minority of professors whose political activism has led them to become hostile to the college, the large majority of the faculty are satisfied with their jobs. The college has a 98 percent retention rate for professors.
Natalie Gutzler, adjunct professor of mathematics, says, “I enjoy working at Collin because I have great colleagues. Everyone—from the people that work in the offices, to fellow professors, to the associate deans—is so welcoming and helpful. It feels great to belong to such a wonderful team. I wish people were more aware of the free assistance offered to the students who are struggling with their classes.” (Cougar Review, December 2022)
Cathie Alexander, board candidate, says she wants to continue to encourage the staff and faculty to be independent and well informed, and will work with the board to maintain a healthy work environment for all. As a former assistant academic dean and professor, Cathie has the experience to maintain Collin College’s excellent trajectory. She recognizes that proposed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs, instead of bringing people together, actually create dissatisfaction and demoralization among students and faculty. In an extensive report, Dr. Scott Yenor documented how within five years of Texas A&M introducing various DEI programs, black students who “felt they belonged at A&M” dropped from 82 percent in 2015 to 55 percent in 2020. These kinds of numbers are shocking and indicative of low morale. Both Cathie Alexander and Jay Saad want to prevent this kind of outcome for Collin College.
Students, faculty and administrators have high rates of satisfaction at Collin College, and this should be preserved by electing the two candidates, Jay Saad and Cathie Alexander, who have the academic and administrative experience to continue to steer the college in a healthy direction.
Collin College, with its economic impact and by training the future workforce, is closely tied to the future of Collin County. The college’s success should be preserved, and the college should not be distracted by the few who wish to tear it down. The June 10 runoff election (early voting is May 30 through June 6) is crucial for the future of the college. This election will likely be determined by 4 percent or less of eligible voters, so every single vote matters for the future of our community.
Jay Saad said, “My kids have grown up in the community. They have used Collin College. I took classes at Collin. My wife is a substitute teacher; education is important to my family. I want everyone else to have the same opportunities that my family has had.” Please vote to save our college and vote for Jay Saad and Cathie Alexander.
This is a commentary published with the author’s permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to firstname.lastname@example.org.