College of the Mainland
|College of the Mainland|
|President||Dr. Beth Lewis|
|Undergraduates||3,527 (as of 2009)|
|Location||Texas City, Texas, USA
|Colors||COM Blue, COM Red and COM Yellow|
College of the Mainland (COM) is a community college located in Texas City, Texas, United States. Its name comes from its location on the "mainland" portion of Galveston County, Texas (that portion north of Galveston Island).
College of the Mainland was launched in late 1966 when the voters of Dickinson, Hitchcock, La Marque, Santa Fe, and Texas City approved a building-bond issue of $2,850,000, having been largely an idea since 1935. Herbert F. Stallworth, who previously had helped establish two colleges, was selected to head the new college in April 1967, and Fred A. Taylor was appointed dean of instruction. Classes were begun in temporary quarters in 1967. On March 21, 1970, the administration building, learning-resources center, math and science building, and technical-vocational building were completed, and the College of the Mainland moved to its new campus on Palmer Highway. On May 16, 1970, residents of the college district approved $4,750,000 for a second phase of construction. The campus was expanded to include a fine arts building, a physical education complex, and a student center. The math-science and technical-vocational buildings were improved. In 1984 a third addition to the technical-vocational building was constructed. In 1991, two industrial education buildings were completed to house auto mechanics and diesel technology programs. In 1999, a new public service careers building opened to provide classrooms and labs for EMS, fire and police academies as well as housing the college’s pharmacy technician program.
In 2003, the college opened the COM Learning Center-North County in League City, Texas, part of COM’s extended service area. The center is a leased facility that offers college credit and continuing education classes as well as dental assistant, medical assistant and other health care programs.
In 2004, the college became one of only three in the state of Texas to offer a Collegiate High School program on its campus allowing high school students to complete their last two years on a college campus while earning an associate degree.
In 2009, Dr. Michael A. Elam became the College’s seventh president. After months of contract renewal negotiations, Dr. Elam resigned in November 2011 in a $191,000 settlement that involves him going on sabbatical through November 2012. Larry Durrence was named interim president effective January 2012 Dr. Beth Lewis became president in 2013.
The college budget is supported by state appropriations and local property taxes. Other sources of revenue are federal grants and funds raised by the College of the Mainland Foundation for scholarships.
Governance and service area
The college is governed by a seven-member board of trustees elected to six-year terms by the residents of the college district.
- the Dickinson, Friendswood, Hitchcock, La Marque, Santa Fe, and Texas City school districts, and
- the portion of the Clear Creek Independent School District located within Galveston County.
Besides traditional community college transfer classes, vocational programs, and continuing education courses, such as those designed for students pursuing careers in nursing and business, the college offers a process technology degree for those seeking employment as operators in the refineries and other petroleum-related plants.
The college has also launched a Collegiate High School, allowing high school students to complete an associate's degree while finishing their high school diplomas. (It is even possible for students to finish their associate's degree before graduating from high school.) Collegiate High School students, unlike dual credit students, attend all their classes on the college campus.
As of 2009, student enrollment was 3,527; approximately 47 percent of which were registered in university-parallel degree programs, with 53 percent in vocational programs.
Degree and certificate programs
COM offers degree and certificate programs in the following areas
- Business Administration
- Child Development/Education
- Computer Information Systems
- Criminal Justice
- Emergency Medical Services
- Fine Arts
- Fire Protection Technology
- General Studies
- Graphic Arts
- Health Information Management
- Law Enforcement
- Medical Assistant
- Occupational Safety and Health Technology
- Office Management
- Pharmacy Technician
- Process Technology
- Welding Technologies
COM students can participate in competitive club sports including flag football, soccer, and basketball. Over 20 student clubs and organizations, from the Gamers Union to Art Club, meet on campus. COM also has a Five Star Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the national community college honor society, that conducts projects on campus and in the community.
Allegations of hiring discrimination
In September 2007, the Texas City and Galveston chapters of the League of United Latin American Citizens accused four of the seven trustees of racism after a 4-3 vote against hiring Hispanic Juan Garcia of Tarrant County College to the post Vice President of Student Services (which had been vacant for a year prior), despite a recommendation from President Hayes. Board of trustees member Don Criss, who voted in the majority, said in regards to the decision that ""There's no race involved." Jesse Ponce, President of The Texas City chapter of LULAC, through a spokesperson, countered, saying "To note that `race played no part' in the rejection is pretty ridiculous..."
In 2012, the college became a Hispanic-Serving Institution, according to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.
David Michael Smith
The college garnered national attention in 2002 when political science instructor and self-avowed Marxist David Michael Smith applied for tenure, prompting vocal opposition from some residents and another former professor, Howard Katz. College board member Ralph Holm as well as Smith's department and many former students supported Smith's application and he was granted tenure.
In April 2010, the College of the Mainland, acting under then President Michael Elam, sought to modify the way union fees were deducted from faculty pay. Smith and a number of concerned parties raised an issue with this change in policy. Subsequently, Mr. Criss, a trustee, scheduled a board meeting to reverse the actions of President Elam. The board meeting was open to attendance, but not to comment. Smith who was then the president of the Faculty Union (COM-Unity) attended as a member of the public. Smith remarked once negating Elam's testimony. Smith made only one additional remark to President Elam. The total exchange lasted one minute. However, regardless of President Elam's attempts to further the conversation with Smith, Smith was given a negative reprimand by Elam, a negative performance evaluation, and removed from the hiring board. Challenging this, Smith sued claiming that this was adverse action that violated his first amendment right. The court found the case passed the Pickering test and ruled in Smith's favor having opined the "disruption was negligible."
In May 2013, Smith was notified by the President Lewis that he was placed on a Formal Disciplinary Level 4 as requested by the Vice President of Instruction. The reasons were violations of policy, and email correspondence mention flyering on vehicles, and alleged insubordination. Three months later Smith's employment was terminated. At his college hearing with an independent hearing officer prior to his termination, several employees and supervisors testified that Smith discouraged others from presenting their views. They also said he refused to attend mandatory training until directed three times to do so and in another instance, "demanded that a department chair address hiring practices and threatened legal action if they failed to accommodate his requests." The officer concluded that Smith "engaged in behavior toward his supervisors that has been insubordinate and disrespectful of supervisory authority" and "his supervisors are concerned that his communication style" harmed employee morale and Smith's working relationships.
The college refused to comment on the matter. President Lewis was later quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education as saying that "having an employee who has habitually harassed and intimidated his co-workers is not acceptable." 
- In 2013, a study by higher education research group College Measures reported that COM graduates with technical degrees earned the highest starting salaries of any new university or college graduate in the state.
- The creation of COM led the citizens of Galveston Island to revive a community college district it had created in 1935, but never funded, leading to the creation of Galveston College.
- The COM website features a unique section titled Calm Waters, solely devoted to the purpose of allowing College of the Mainland students (anonymously if desired) to determine whether a rumor circulating around campus is true or false. Rumors submitted to Calm Waters include whether a deceased man was found in one of the parking lots (false), whether COM was getting rid of ducks on the campus (false, COM does not own the ducks, and further does not allow hunting of the ducks), and whether COM was going to offer on-line physical education classes (true, but only class assignments and lectures would be on-line). As a result of the duck rumor mentioned above, in 2006, the college adopted the "Fighting Ducks" as its official mascot.
- The COM Fire Science Technology Program was ranked number 34 in the nation for return on investment by Fire Science Online.
- COM was ranked number four in the nation in the number of degrees awarded in 2012 in the science technologies/technicians category by a Community College Week study. The publication based its report on U.S. Department of Education data showing 76 process technology graduates that year, a nine percent increase over the previous year. 
- Texas Education Code, Section 130.174, "College of the Mainland District Service Area".
- Rice, Harvey (2007-09-22). "Hispanics claim Mainland college is racially biased / They say trustees ignored panel's choice when they chose black woman as vice president". chron.com. Retrieved 2010-08-29.[dead link]
- 'Faculty lounge.' Community College Week, 4/15/2002, Vol. 14 Issue 18, p16
- Moran, Kevin (2002-03-24). "Controversy jolts the College of Mainland". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
- David Michael Smith v. The College of the Mainland, et al (S.D. Tex. 2012-12-03). Text
- "From the Courts", Community College Legal Update (Texas Association of School Boards, Inc), February 2013, retrieved 2013-07-22
- Smith, Beth; Lewis (2003-05-20). "Notice of Level 4 Discipline; Request to Terminate; E-Mail Correspondence with President Lewis" (pdf). Galveston Daily News. Retrieved 2012-07-23.
- Gonzalez, Christopher Smith (2013-06-06). "College of the Mainland officials remain quiet on professor’s termination". Neighborhood News. KHOU. Retrieved 2013-07-22.