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Inform. Inspire. Engage.

Inform. Inspire. Engage.

The College Holds Its First Learning Symposium

Two women reading with booksA swarm of blue t-shirts with the tagline, “Inform. Inspire. Engage.” filled the Arlington Convention Center with 900 TCC employees and students in January. The College’s first Learning Symposium, a seven-hour day of focused engagement and reflection, was designed and executed by faculty and staff themselves.

In the last edition of REACH Magazine, TCC’s Chancellor, Eugene Giovannini, introduced the District’s three new goals that will guide the future and direction of the institution. These goals resulted from 25 visioning sessions facilitated by national consulting firm, Ayers Saint Gross, in 2016-2017. More than 450 representatives across the District participated and since this time, TCC faculty and staff have made intentional progress toward the realization of the College’s new vision to do, simply, what’s best for students.

Adopting a One College mindset, a Student Ready focus and a commitment to Serving the Community, these goals are more than pillars of a plan.

The three goals are the lens through which TCC employees should view their work every day.

Eugene Giovannini

“As we move forward, our mindset is to approach everything we do as One College, having a student ready focus and in service to the community,” Giovannini said.

The Learning Symposium did just that. Formerly known as Academics Day, the inaugural Learning Symposium convened more than 120 volunteers, 30 faculty and student panelists, 10 sensory experience stations, 110 discipline specific discussions in a synapse session and captured more than 10,000 distinct data responses from participant insight and feedback.

“We used a collaborative approach in the planning and execution of the event, with active involvement and support from facilities, IT, the Center for Teaching and Learning and from members of the Advisory Panel who helped us design the experience,” said Zarina Blankenbaker, TCC Northwest Campus president and co-leader of the symposium.

A woman showing a man something she saw in a bookThis Districtwide event also launched two of TCC’s eight principles: Learning Commons and Integrated/Instructional Learning Environments. These principles, first introduced with TCC’s three goals, were identified through the visioning sessions conducted with College participants. They serve as the focus for the College’s work ahead.

What does this mean for TCC students and colleagues? Creating 21st century learning environments and innovative spaces that support active learning through access to resources, fosters better student engagement, retention and best practices in-and-outside the classroom.

“It’s not just lectures; it’s small groups, discussion, it’s interactive… it gives me feedback quicker,” said Janice Gentsch, TCC student and symposium participant.

The key driver of the symposium’s success was definitely people. It was planned and executed by TCC faculty and staff and designed to inform, inspire and engage participants in creative ways. “Active learning is not about having the right answer,” said Carlos Rovelo, a symposium participant and instructor of history and government, “It’s about asking questions and helping students find the answers.”

A collaborative and inclusive process of faculty, staff and students, the overall work for the institution’s three goals and eight principles is led by "champions" who serve as TCC campus presidents and District vice chancellors. In addition, support by an enterprise program manager and teams of faculty, staff, information technology, real estate, facilities and topic experts are integral pieces of the process.

This work is just the beginning to a longer narrative and demonstrates the College’s commitment to creating a culture of collaboration where TCC employees, students and community partners have venues to express ideas and be part of creating solutions.

“Our goals and principles are realized when we passionately believe in and genuinely live our One College philosophy," shared Sean Madison, Trinity River Campus president and co-leader of the symposium.

The Learning Symposium was a magnificent example of the transformative power of collaboration.

Sean Madison

How TCC integrates this work will directly connect to student success, and the Learning Symposium is a real-life example. “We are striving to do the right things right for our students,” explained Chancellor Giovannini.

For more detailed information about TCC’s three goals and the eight principles that accompany them, please visit