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College of the Mainland (COM) is a public community college in Texas City, Texas. Its name comes from its location on the "mainland" portion of Galveston County, Texas (the portion north of Galveston Island). The school's sport teams are named the Fighting Ducks.

College of the Mainland
COM campus2007.jpg
TypeCommunity College
PresidentDr. Warren Nichols[1]
Undergraduates4,328 (as of 2017)
Location, ,
United States

29°23′43″N 94°59′58″W / 29.395164°N 94.999516°W / 29.395164; -94.999516Coordinates: 29°23′43″N 94°59′58″W / 29.395164°N 94.999516°W / 29.395164; -94.999516
ColorsBlue, Red and Yellow
College of the Mainland.png



College of the Mainland was launched in late 1966 when the voters of Dickinson, Hitchcock, La Marque, Santa Fe, and Texas City approved a building-bond issue of $2,850,000, having been largely an idea since 1935. Herbert F. Stallworth, who previously had helped establish two colleges, was selected to head the new college in April 1967, and Fred A. Taylor was appointed dean of instruction. Classes were begun in temporary quarters in 1967. On March 21, 1970, the administration building, learning-resources center, math and science building, and technical-vocational building were completed, and the College of the Mainland moved to its new campus on Palmer Highway. On May 16, 1970, residents of the college district approved $4,750,000 for a second phase of construction. The campus was expanded to include a fine arts building, a physical education complex, and a student center. The math-science and technical-vocational buildings were improved. In 1984 a third addition to the technical-vocational building was constructed. In 1991, two industrial education buildings were completed to house auto mechanics and diesel technology programs. In 1999, a new public service careers building opened to provide classrooms and labs for EMS, fire and police academies as well as housing the college's pharmacy technician program.

In 2003, the college opened the COM Learning Center-North County in League City, Texas, part of COM's extended service area. The center is a leased facility that offers college credit and continuing education classes as well as dental assistant, medical assistant and other health care programs.

In 2004, the college became one of only three in the state of Texas to offer a Collegiate High School program on its campus allowing high school students to complete their last two years on a college campus while earning an associate degree.

In 2009, Dr. Michael A. Elam became the College's seventh president. After months of contract renewal negotiations, Dr. Elam resigned in November 2011 in a $191,000 settlement that involves him going on sabbatical through November 2012.[2] Larry Durrence was named interim president effective January 2012.[3] Dr. Beth Lewis became president in 2013. Dr. Warren Nichols was named president on Jan. 30, 2017 and started Feb. 13, 2017.[4]

The college garnered national attention in 2002 when political science instructor and self-avowed Marxist David Michael Smith applied for tenure, prompting vocal opposition from some residents and another former professor, Howard Katz. The then college president Ralph Holm as well as Smith's department and many former students supported Smith's application and he was granted tenure.[5][6]

In April 2010, the College of the Mainland, acting under then President Michael Elam, sought to modify the way union fees were deducted from faculty pay. Smith and a number of concerned parties raised an issue with this change in policy. Smith, the president of the Faculty Union (COM-Unity) attended a subsequent board of trustees meeting and objected to the change. After Elam reprimanded Smith, gave him a negative performance evaluation, and removed from the hiring board Smith successfully sued the college.[7][8] In 2013, Smith was formally disciplined for violations of policy[9] and fired shortly thereafter.[10]


Besides traditional community college transfer classes, vocational programs and continuing education courses, such as those designed for students pursuing careers in nursing and business, the college offers a process technology degree for those seeking employment as operators in the refineries and other petroleum-related plants.

As of 2017, student enrollment was 4,328; approximately 62 percent of which were registered in university-parallel degree programs, with 37 percent in vocational programs.

ESL/GED EducationEdit

COM provides free GED and English as a second language classes to individuals at locations throughout Galveston County.[11]

Adult Basic Education courses are perfect for improving reading, writing and mathematics skills and preparing for the General Education Development test. These nine-week courses are tuition free and have convenient schedules during morning, afternoon or evening hours. Students who complete this course and obtain their GED participate in a graduation ceremony.

English as a Second Language classes help students improve their ability to read, write, listen and speak the English language. There is no minimum skill level required. Course are nine weeks and meet at many convenient locations. The tuition is free, and no books are required. Students of all abilities can conveniently achieve their English language goals with College of the Mainland.

High school programsEdit

COM offers a Collegiate High School, which allows students to earn an associate degree by high school graduation. Students can also remain involved in extracurriculars at their home high school.[12]

Dual credit classes at the COM main campus or at the COM Learning Center-North County in League City allow students to earn high school and college credit simultaneously.[13]

Upward Bound, a federally funded program, is open to students from low-income families, students who have disabilities or students who will be the first in their families to graduate from college. The program helps them with tutoring, visits to universities and academic advising.[14]

Continuing educationEdit

COM offers continuing education classes designed to help students pursue a new career or interest.

Student lifeEdit

COM students can participate in competitive club sports including flag football, soccer, and basketball. Over 20 student clubs and organizations, from the Gamers Union to Art Club, meet on campus. COM also has a Five Star Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the national community college honor society, that conducts projects on campus and in the community.

Allegations of hiring discriminationEdit

In September 2007, the Texas City and Galveston chapters of the League of United Latin American Citizens accused four of the seven trustees of racism after a 4-3 vote against hiring Hispanic Juan Garcia of Tarrant County College to the post Vice President of Student Services (which had been vacant for a year prior), despite a recommendation from President Hayes. Board of trustees member Don Criss, who voted in the majority, said in regards to the decision that ""There's no race involved." Jesse Ponce, President of The Texas City chapter of LULAC, through a spokesperson, countered, saying "To note that `race played no part' in the rejection is pretty ridiculous..."[15]

Fine ArtsEdit

The College of the Mainland Fine Arts Department creates opportunities for students and community members to acquire skills in the areas of art, drama and music. Classes in these areas are for students who seek personal enrichment, will continue their education at transfer institutions, pursue individual expression or pursue careers in the arts.

Since 1972, COM Community Theatre has presented over 228 presentations including children's theatre, concerts and workshops with attendance of more than a quarter of a million people. The theater has been recognized as one of America's leading community theaters, setting high production standards and developing one of this country's most innovative programs.[16]

The College of the Mainland Art Gallery serves as a resource for the study of art and art history and presents works demonstrating contemporary standards of quality. It is free and open to the public Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment. Exhibitions include paintings, drawings, print media, sculpture, ceramics, mixed media, film, digital media (including movie and still photography) and site-specific installations that are culturally significant and creatively express personal views.[17]

COM Vocal Arts offers two choirs open to community members. The COM Mainland Singers meet Monday evenings and Mainland Chorale practices Tuesday evenings. The COM choirs toured Ireland in 2014.[18]

The College of the Mainland Music Program is among the most respected community college music programs in Houston/Galveston area. More than 100 music students attend each year, participating in six varied ensembles and pursuing their goals in performance and music education. Many COM students have made appearances with community college all-state performing ensembles, and some ensembles have performed at national conferences and in Europe. The program's instrumental ensembles are open to community members and degree-seeking students.[19]

Governance and Service AreaEdit

The college is governed by a seven-member board of trustees elected to six-year terms by the residents of the college district.

As defined by the Texas Legislature, the official service area of COM includes:[20]


  • COM graduates with technical degrees earn the highest starting salaries of any new university or college graduate in the state - $73,509 - according to a study by higher education research group College Measures.[21][22]
  • COM was ranked number four in the nation in the number of degrees awarded in 2012 in the science technologies/technicians category by a Community College Week study. The publication based its report on U.S. Department of Education data showing 76 process technology graduates that year, a nine percent increase over the previous year.[23]
  • The creation of COM led the citizens of Galveston Island to revive a community college district it had created in 1935, but never funded, leading to the creation of Galveston College.
  • The COM Fire Science Technology Program was ranked number 34 in the nation for return on investment by Fire Science Online.[24]
  • COMPeers is a group of COM employees that are dedicated to serving the community, fundraising and volunteering.[25]
  • COM is an Achieving the Dream Leader College. Achieving the Dream is a national initiative to help more community college students succeed, particularly low-income students and students of color.[26]


  1. ^
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ [2][dead link]
  4. ^ "Nichols new COM president". Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  5. ^ 'Faculty lounge.' Community College Week, 4/15/2002, Vol. 14 Issue 18, p16
  6. ^ Moran, Kevin (2002-03-24). "Controversy jolts the College of Mainland". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
  7. ^ David Michael Smith v. The College of the Mainland, et al, (S.D. Tex. 2012-12-03). Text
  8. ^ "From the Courts", Community College Legal Update, Texas Association of School Boards, Inc, February 2013, archived from the original on 2013-07-23, retrieved 2013-07-22
  9. ^ Smith, David Michael; Lewis, Beth (2003-05-20). "Notice of Level 4 Discipline; Request to Terminate; E-Mail Correspondence with President Lewis" (PDF). Galveston Daily News. Retrieved 2012-07-23.
  10. ^ Gonzalez, Christopher Smith (2013-06-06). "College of the Mainland officials remain quiet on professor's termination". Neighborhood News. KHOU. Archived from the original on 2013-07-23. Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  11. ^ "Adult Education | College of the Mainland". Retrieved 2015-06-19.
  12. ^ "Collegiate High School | College of the Mainland". Retrieved 2015-06-19.
  13. ^ "Dual Credit | College of the Mainland". Retrieved 2015-06-19.
  14. ^ "Areas of Study | College of the Mainland". Archived from the original on 2014-08-08. Retrieved 2015-06-19.
  15. ^ Rice, Harvey (2007-09-22). "Hispanics claim Mainland college is racially biased / They say trustees ignored panel's choice when they chose black woman as vice president". Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
  16. ^ "Community Theatre | College of the Mainland". 2015-06-09. Retrieved 2015-06-19.
  17. ^ "Art Gallery | College of the Mainland". 2015-06-07. Retrieved 2015-06-19.
  18. ^ "College of the Mainland". 2014-07-30. Retrieved 2015-06-19.
  19. ^ Archived from the original on February 4, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2014. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ Texas Education Code, Section 130.174, "College of the Mainland District Service Area".
  21. ^ "Two-Year Technical Degree Grads in Texas have Higher First-Year Median Earnings than Bachelor Grads". 2013-05-07. Archived from the original on 2015-06-22. Retrieved 2015-06-19.
  22. ^ Reynolds, Jennifer (2013-05-18). "Study: Students with 2-year technical degrees outstrip university grads in earnings - The Galveston County Daily News: Local News". Retrieved 2015-06-19.
  23. ^ "Associate Degree & Certificate Producers, 2013". 2013-06-24. Retrieved 2015-06-19.
  24. ^ "Fire Science Degree Programs With Huge Returns". 2013-12-17. Retrieved 2015-06-19.
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-09-20. Retrieved 2014-09-19.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved August 1, 2014. Missing or empty |title= (help)

External linksEdit