Blinn Vice Chancellor Karen Buck named winner of the 2020 Texas Association of Community Colleges Nelson Award

TACC's most prestigious annual award recognizes Buck's commitment to students and their success

October 22, 2020

Karen BuckBlinn College District Vice Chancellor for Administration Karen Buck has been named the 2020 winner of the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) Carl M. “Cheesie” Nelson Award.

The Nelson Award is the most prestigious annual award presented by the TACC and recognizes the winner's commitment to the mission of community colleges, support for student learning and success, leadership qualities, and involvement in community activities. The award is named after former Texarkana College President Carl M. Nelson.

“On behalf of everyone at Blinn College, we are excited to congratulate Vice Chancellor Buck on this tremendous accolade,” said Dr. Mary Hensley, Chancellor of the Blinn College District. “For the past 25 years, her leadership skills and dedication to students have played a vital role in Blinn's success.”

Under Buck's leadership, Blinn set enrollment records in every term throughout the 2019-20 academic year. Just as importantly, those students enjoy unparalleled success at Blinn. According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Blinn's academic transfer rate of 45.9% ranks No. 1 in the State of Texas. No other community college in the state exceeds 40% and the statewide average is 24.1%.

A valued member of Blinn's staff or administration since 1996, Buck has been a key leader in expanding Blinn's technical and community education programs. During her tenure, she twice oversaw the relocation and expansion of Blinn's credit and non-credit welding program in Brazos County. This August, this program moved into its new location at the RELLIS Agricultural and Workforce Education Complex in Bryan, a 38,000-square-foot facility that is a collaborative partnership between Blinn, The Texas A&M System, and the Texas A&M University College of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications.

This facility also will serve as home to four new Associate of Applied Science degrees that launched this Fall. Under Buck's leadership, new credit degrees in carpentry, facilities maintenance, HVAC, and water purification were developed to provide valuable skilled trades training for the Central Texas region. These new degrees prepare students for high-skill, high-demand leadership positions in highly valued industry fields.

Buck's many accomplishments also include:

  • oversight of Blinn's campus planning activities in preparation for Hurricane Harvey in 2017,
  • development of new health science programs in Surgical Technology and Veterinary Technology,
  • a 300% increase in the successful procurement and development of Texas Workforce Commission Skills Development and Skills for Small Business grants over the past three years,
  • a 26% increase in Blinn's overall technical and career awards,
  • and the development of external partnership agreements with the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) Fire Recruit Academy, Police Academy, Forensic Science Academy, Industrial Fire and Occupational Fire courses, and online corrections officer certification.

In addition to these accomplishments, Vice Chancellor Buck played a vital role in Blinn's transition of more than 2,200 Spring 2020 courses from a traditional instructional modality to an online format in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once classes resumed, she created and oversaw a student outreach project in which approximately 90 Blinn personnel contacted 7,763 students by phone or text to see what challenges those students may be facing and how Blinn could assist them.

Buck recently announced her plans to retire at the end of the month.

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About Blinn College

With an enrollment of 19,581 students, Blinn ranks among the nation’s leaders in transferring students to leading four-year universities and has received national recognition for affordable educational excellence.