Alvin Community College President Christal Albrecht plans retirement, looks to future

Christal Albrecht
Christal Albrecht

Christal Albrecht

Christal Albrecht has been the president of Alvin Community College since May 2019. She will retire Aug. 31, 2021.

In what will be her seven years at the college, Albrecht led the college it its highest enrollment in its more than 70-year history and pulled the college through Hurricane Harvey and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. She also helped pass a $25 million bond for campus renovations; partnered with University of Houston-Clear Lake Pearland Campus to offer Alvin Community College classes aligned with UHCL’s bachelor’s degree program; and created a five-year strategic plan, which will be completed before her retirement.

Community Impact Newspaper interviewed Albrecht about her legacy and what is next for her. Answers have been edited for length.

What led you to become Alvin Community College’s sixth president?

This is my third presidency. I had left the Houston area in January of 2008 to take my first presidency at Pima Community College in Tuscon, Arizona, ... and then, I took a second presidency ... in Jacksonville, Florida. I wanted to get back to Texas, but, particularly, I wanted to get to the Gulf Coast. And Alvin just checked all the boxes for me: a smallish college; its own board; Gulf Coast. ... When I narrowed my search, it was the only college I applied to and got the job.

What are the accomplishments you are most proud of?

I think when I got here, there was a lot of foundational work that really needed to be done. Some of the things don't sound very exciting, but they're really important to the college's success, so I think getting right in there with my board and developing a five-year strategic plan [was important].

... We are in the process of undergoing renovations on our campus. Two years ago in August, the board voted to pass a $25 million maintenance tax note, and so we've been planning, and we're in the midst of renovations right now. Of course, I wish it would have been a bond election that voters would have passed, but we tried that twice, and we failed both times, so the board decided to go with the smaller bond that they could vote on themselves.

Last fall, [in] 2019, we had our highest enrollment, and really, even with all this nonsense that's going on, we only dropped 6% in headcount this fall. ... I am proud of that.

I'm also proud of the fact that Alvin-Manvel [Area] Chamber [of Commerce] named me Leader of the Year in 2018. That was a really, really big deal for me. And I'm also proud of my service on my many state and national boards that I've been on and that have contributed to community colleges' movement.

I should break them down, and when I'm at home in my rocking chair, I can look at them and go, "Oh, remember all that good stuff you did." [Laughs]

What will you remember most about your time at the college?

I think I'll remember, well, the people, because it's always about the people—just wonderful people—because at a smaller college, people have to wear a lot of different hats, ... and they do it with a smile on their face. So the people are really important.

I'll also remember the fact that we just finished our [Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges] on-site visit, and that's our accrediting body. ... They come, and they inspect you thoroughly every 10 years, ... [and] we passed with flying colors. There are 104 different criteria to meet. We met 104 criteria. ... So we got, kind of, like, a clean bill of health, ... so I'm going to be remembering that one for a long time.

What are you working on between now and retirement?

... I want to get us through this construction project, and I want to be teed up to begin to write our next strategic plan. I don't want to have my fingerprints on the strategic plan, but I want to get the college at least through the data collection discovery phase so that when the next president walks in the door, he or she won't have to start from nothing. They'll be handed six months' worth of work that says, "Here is the status of the college right now." And I just think that's a really nice gift to give to the next president. ... I want to just leave the college in the best shape that I can and just have a nice handoff.

What is next for you?

I did some teaching last fall for UH-Clear Lake Pearland in their doctoral program, so I tried that out. Maybe I'll consult. I'm not really sure, but I really want to spend some more time with my husband and my kids and grandkids, should we ever all be able to travel and see each other again. Those are some things that would be on my horizon.
By Jake Magee
Jake Magee has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper.


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