Dallas College Chancellor Justin Lonon, a leader in driving success and removing barriers, accepted Dallas College’s 2024 Innovation Award from D CEO and Dallas Innovates at an event held this week. Dallas College was honored with the Innovation in Education award based on its many 2023 advancements, including a first-of-its-kind Student Teacher Residency program that puts student teachers in the classroom sooner and ensures they graduate with experience, but not debt.
Dr. Lonon emphasized the college's commitment to innovation as "disruptive change that creates value and is inclusive of all members of our community." He highlighted the institution's dedication to challenging the status quo, continuous improvement, and fostering a culture that rewards creativity. According to Dr. Lonon, this innovation is evident in the college's efforts to prepare students for in-demand careers and eliminate obstacles to their success.
In addition to the teacher residency apprenticeship program, the college’s innovations over the past year include its first class of students with bachelor’s degrees in Early Childhood Education and Teaching, which was a direct response to the urgent need for qualified teachers.
This year, Dallas College will launch a second bachelor’s degree in nursing. The Workforce Center at RedBird opened in December. It delivers training for in-demand jobs to an area in the heart of South Dallas that has been historically underserved. Dallas College is the largest provider of early college programs in the state, serving more than 30,000 students. As that number grows each year, Dallas College is building new facilities across its campuses to cater to its youngest students.
Critical to Dallas College’s innovative approach to higher education is the importance it places on breaking down barriers to student success. Through its Learner Care Model, the Dallas College Student Care Network provides holistic services to ensure that basic needs are met and that students are supported as they pursue their educational goals.
From coaching to financial aid to mental health care, the institution’s student care approach intentionally focuses on student wellness and support. The model has reimagined every student touchpoint and created a system that addresses tuition, textbooks and tutoring as well as physical, mental, financial, social and family needs. Each of Dallas College’s seven campuses has its own well-stocked food pantry, clothing closet and health care facilities. In 2023, Dallas College opened Bezos Academy preschools on its Mountain View and Cedar Valley campuses to serve the needs of students and employees alike.
Looking ahead, Dallas College has ambitious plans for an innovation hub and campus in downtown Dallas, intending to serve as a resource for fostering business growth and entrepreneurship in Dallas County.