HISTORY: Lone Star College-CyFair continues legacy of preparing students for the future

LSC-CyFair hosted Cy-Fest for 13 years, featuring family activities and averaging 10,000 attendees each year. (Courtesy Lone Star College)
LSC-CyFair hosted Cy-Fest for 13 years, featuring family activities and averaging 10,000 attendees each year. (Courtesy Lone Star College)

LSC-CyFair hosted Cy-Fest for 13 years, featuring family activities and averaging 10,000 attendees each year. (Courtesy Lone Star College)

Image description
Ronnie Nespeca (center) helped develop the college's soccer team in 2004 and led the team as head coach through 2016. (Courtesy Lone Star College)
Image description
The campus became a fully operational shelter and a distribution site of basic necessities in the wake of Hurricane Harvey for four days. (Courtesy Lone Star College)
Image description
President Seelpa Keshvala (left) and faculty members celebrate the opening of the Westway Park Technology Center in January 2019. (Danica Smithwick/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
Thousands of students have graduated from Lone Star College-CyFair since its inception, but 20 years ago the campus was just being explored as a possibility, according to Claire Gunnels, assistant library director for adult services.

“The support of the business community was a key factor in how this college came to be,” Gunnels said. “Because of the rapid growth in the Cypress-Fairbanks area, the Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce, led by Darcy Mingoia [at the time], decided to explore the benefits of higher education to local residents.”

Houston Community College and the North Harris Montgomery Community College District both presented their plans for a local campus to the chamber in March 2003, and officials ultimately decided the college district was a better option, Gunnels said. The plan included meeting local workforce needs, including emergency services, health care, technology and manufacturing jobs.

That August, local residents approved an initiative to join the college district, and Cy-Fair College—which was renamed LSC-CyFair in 2008—opened on Barker Cypress Road.

Gunnels was a member of the founding faculty in 2003, joining the team to help launch a library that would serve both the college and the public—a concept created by founding LSC-CyFair President Diane Troyer and Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack, she said.

“Not only are librarians faculty who teach students research techniques, but also public librarians do storytimes for children, have craft programs for teens and do fun, educational programming for adults,” she said. “We teach computer skills and run a robust English as a Second Language program.”

Kinesiology Department Chair Ronnie Nespeca said he worked at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene when he learned about the new college and was ultimately hired as a founding faculty member in 2003.

Some of his most memorable experiences were developing and coaching the men’s soccer program from 2004-16, leading the team to multiple championships, he said. Over time he has also seen the campus grow from about 7,000 students to more than 20,000 and from five to eight buildings along with two satellite centers.

“We have had to add new buildings, build more parking and of course add more employees,” he said. “We have had many challenges to overcome with our rapid growth rate, but one thing [that] has stayed consistent is our dedication to active, engaged learning and the success of our students.”

English professor Laura Taggett, another one of the campus’s first hires, said she moved from a small college in Iowa to join the faculty in 2003, excited to be part of opening a new college.

From hosting theater productions and events such as Cy-Fest to hosting evacuees during Hurricane Harvey and opening a food pantry, she said she believes the campus has been committed to serving the community from the start.

As the college grows over time, LSC-CyFair continues to provide services such as online education, dual-credit courses and workforce programs to meet the needs of local students, Taggett said.

“My hopes for LSC-CyFair is that our exciting, [innovative] faculty continue to create ways to meet our students where they are, with their ever-changing needs in a world that in ways is growing and shrinking at the same time,” Taggett said.
By Danica Lloyd
Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper as a Cy-Fair reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a journalism degree from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. She covers education, local government, business, demographic trends, real estate development and nonprofits.


Michelle Esposito owns and operates My Skin by Michelle. (Courtesy My Skin by Michelle)
My Skin by Michelle now open in Cypress

Michelle Esposito said she has more than 20 years of experience as an esthetician and offers customized facials at her new studio.

Cy-Fair ISD recently added 266 propane buses to its total fleet. Funded by the 2019 bond package, the buses account for approximately 30% of the district’s total fleet and provide cleaner emissions. (Courtesy Cy-Fair ISD)
Cy-Fair ISD's 2019 bond program funds new propane buses to replace diesel vehicles

Propane buses now account for about 30% of the district's entire fleet.

ExxonMobil moved employees from its Springwoods Village campus to a Hughes Landing to cure a default on a Montgomery County tax abatement. (Courtesy ExxonMobil)
ExxonMobil resolves tax abatement default; Home Depot distribution center taking over superfund site; and more top Houston-area news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from the Houston area.

The University of St. Thomas is a private Catholic college in Houston. It also has a microcampus in downtown Conroe. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
University of St. Thomas offering free tuition to first 500 students who apply

The online degrees are in the following fields: cybersecurity, network technology, electronic technology, general business, and alcohol and drug dependency counseling.

Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 has begun construction on the first of three phases for its new 43-acre, state-of-the-art campus located in Spring, according to a May 7 news release. (Courtesy Cypress Creek EMS)
Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 begins construction on new 43-acre campus

The campus will house ESD No. 11's new ambulance service, which is scheduled to launch Sept. 4 when the district's contract with current service provider, Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services, expires.

King and his team constructed the Ringing Singing Tree, a 17-foot-tall, 20-ton wind powered sound sculpture, in 2015. The project is on display outside of Austin. (Courtesy JK Welding)
Cypress-based JK Welding takes on unique, challenging projects

Motorists might recognize the FM 529 facility by the large projects that can be seen from the street, which have included an oil derrick, a pirate ship and a massive wind chime.

The new campus will be modeled after the comprehensive Houston Methodist West and Houston Methodist The Woodlands facilities. (Courtesy Houston Methodist)
Houston Methodist announces plans for new 400-bed hospital in Cypress

The new hospital could open as early as 2024 and ultimately employ more than 500 people, officials said.

The Texas Department of State Health Services projects a significant shortage of nurses by 2032. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Q&A: Why Texas faces a growing nursing shortage and what can be done to address it

In 2018, the state health department estimated about 11% of the demand for nurses was not able to be met, and that number is expected to rise to 16.3% by 2032.

The practice is led by Stoni Johnston, who is a licensed and board certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. (Courtesy Sulcata Psychiatry)
Sulcata Psychiatry in Vintage Park now scheduling appointments for June

Patients who schedule appointments for June prior to May 31 will receive a 15% discount.

Jersey Village City Hall is located on Lakeview Drive, but city officials have plans to break ground on a new facility in Village Center this summer. (Danica Lloyd/Community Impact Newspaper)
Village Center, new Jersey Village City Hall slated for groundbreaking this summer following delays

If construction begins this summer as planned, the entire project could be completed within three to four years, officials told residents during a May 4 information session about the project.

Houston, Harris County annual addresses no longer hosted by Greater Houston Partnership over Texas voter bill dispute

Local leaders criticized the area chamber of commerce for not taking a definitive stance on two voting access bills currently being deliberated in the Texas Legislature.