Austin Community College board approves new programs in fashion design, technical theater

Austin City Council Member Greg Casar swears in Stephanie Gharakhanian to the Austin Community College board of trustees Monday, Jan. 14 in Austin.

Austin City Council Member Greg Casar swears in Stephanie Gharakhanian to the Austin Community College board of trustees Monday, Jan. 14 in Austin.

Students at Austin Community College will be able to pursue associate degrees in fashion design and technical theater after the community college district’s board of trustees unanimously approved the new programs Jan. 14.

ACC already offers an associate degree in fashion marketing, and the campus launched a fashion incubator project in 2018 with 7,500 square feet of space and a $13 million Gerber Technology manufacturing machine. Incubator director Nina Means said the students need technical skills as well as marketing skills to prepare for the workforce, according to documents from the marketing and fashion advisory meeting.

“Without the higher level technical courses, they won't be skilled enough to use the $13M of apparel technology we have in the Fashion Incubator,” Means said, according to the minutes. “We want them to be business savvy and able to make their product come to life with a high level of quality.”

ACC Vice President for Instruction Mike Midgley, called fashion a “growth industry” in Austin and said the new program will be added to prepare local students to take advantage.

A 2015 report prepared for the city of Austin by TXP Inc. said the fashion industry locally employed over 1,300 individuals and had an annual economic impact of over $86 million. In addition to the associate degree program, a certificate program will also be offered.

The associate’s degree program in technical theater will expand ACC’s drama program to support students interested in a career working behind the scenes.

The technical theater degree will be offered with two specializations–one in make-up artistry and costume technology and one in scenic construction, lighting and media technology. The courses will prepare students for careers ranging from professional makeup artists, costume attendants, riggers, board operators or video equipment technicians.

The fashion design program is set to begin in fall 2019, with the technical theatre program to follow in the fall of 2020.

The board of trustees also took the following actions on Jan. 14:

  • The board approved a term sheet outlining an agreement to lease a property on the Highland campus to public television station KLRU-TV. In July, KLRU and ACC announced an agreement to move the station to a building on campus that formerly housed a Dillard’s store in the Highland Mall. According to the term sheet, which lays the framework for a final lease agreement, KLRU will pay $67,663 per month to rent the building of about 29,000 square feet.

  • The board will revisit a decision it made in December asking state lawmakers to allow community college districts to allow plurality votes rather than mandating runoff elections. The board voted 8-0 on Dec. 3 to include the item on its priority list, as staff argued it placed an “unnecessary financial burden” on the district. However, board members Julie Ann Nitsch, who abstained from the Dec. 3 vote, and Stephanie Gharakhanian, who was sworn in Jan. 14, said the runoff election system ensures voters are making informed decisions between two candidates rather than picking a name on November ballots crowded with federal and statewide races. Gharakhanian said a plurality election “could advantage people who have higher access and don’t have barriers to entry to elected office.”

By Jack Flagler

Jack is the editor for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. He graduated in 2011 from Boston University and worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Maine, Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in January of 2018.


A photo of latte art.
Summer Moon Coffee to open at Circle C Ranch

A new coffee shop is set to open in a previous South Austin location of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

Austin City Council is considering an end to enforcement of low level marijuana possession laws. (SHELBY SAVAGE/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER)
Support grows among Austin City Council members who want to end local penalties for low-level marijuana possession

If successful, the Austin Police Department would no longer hand out arrests or citations for possession of marijuana with no intent to distribute.

Delays have pushed back completion of the much-anticipated Bee Creek Sports Complex to spring 2022. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Utility and other hurdles delay Bee Creek Sports Complex

Though it was initially planned to be ready for play by 2020, delays pertaining to construction and, more specifically, to water service, have pushed the completion date of the much-anticipated Bee Creek Sports Complex to spring 2022.

zanjero park water
Travis County commissioners pursue easement to bring water to Las Lomitas subdivision

Travis County commissioners are working to address colonias—unincorporated areas in the county that lack basic utilities.

Austin Public Health is investigating a confirmed rubella case, the first case of the contagious viral infection in Travis County since 1999. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Austin Public Health confirms city’s first rubella case since 1999

Austin Public Health is investigating a confirmed rubella case, the first case of the contagious viral infection in Travis County since 1999.

Travis County commissioners will receive preliminary estimates for a new peace officer step pay scale at their Jan. 28 meeting. (Courtesy Travis County Sheriff's Office)
Travis County commissioners consider revisions to peace office pay

Travis County commissioners are considering options that will revise the pay scale for peace officers, including law enforcement, corrections and park rangers.

A photo of the exterior of Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Austin.
Baylor Scott & White's Austin Medical Center opens in Oak Hill

Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Austin opened its doors Jan. 15.

Texas oil and gas industry could see a major slowdown in 2020

The oil and natural gas industry paid a record-setting $16.3 billion in taxes and royalties to local governments and the state in 2019, the Texas Oil and Gas Association announced Tuesday.

A photo of a sign that reads "Visit Historic Dripping Springs."
Dripping Springs City Council tangles with parking solutions for historic downtown

Council members stressed the need for long-term downtown parking solutions at their Jan. 14 meeting.

Commuters arrive at downtown Austin's lone light rail stop. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
With unveiling of 'transformational' transit proposal, support for urban rail grows among Austin leaders

Before voting on a multibillion-dollar bond referendum coming in November, the community will have to choose between an urban rail or bus transit system.

A photo of the facade of Hill Country Healing Haven.
New acupuncture clinic Hill Country Healing Haven open in Dripping Springs

A new center for acupuncture and wellness now operates in Dripping Springs.

Options in the Project Connect plan include adding light rail as well as expanding MetroRail, the commuter rail line in the region. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)
Voters could decide in November how to fund an estimated $2.9B-$7.2B needed to expand transit in Austin area

Capital Metro, city of Austin officials are discussing financing options for expanding transit through Project Connect.

Back to top