Established to prepare leaders and teachers for specific careers in community colleges, the Bill J. Priest Center is unique in the field. Higher Education programs around the country typically include a course or two on community college issues, but few offer a comprehensive education designed specifically to prepare those pursuing careers in community colleges.

The Bill J. Priest Center was made possible by a $1 million gift to the University of North Texas from Mr. Don A. Buchholz, co-founder of Southwest Securities of Dallas, Texas. The endowed chair, named after Mr. Buchholz, is a part of the Bill J. Priest Center and the Program in Higher Education.

Because of the Priest Center, the University of North Texas Program in Higher Education is able to offer a Doctorate in Higher Education with a specialization in Community College Education. Students completing this program are highly marketable for community college positions.

Center Director

Clifford P. Harbour, J.D., Ed.D.
Professor, Higher Education
Bill.Priest@unt.edu
940-565-4725

Mailing Address

Bill J. Priest Center
1155 Union Circle, #305039
Denton, Texas 76203-5017

Creating Community College Leaders

The Center was named in honor of Dr. Bill J. Priest, the founding Chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District and the inspiration for the Bill J. Priest Center at UNT. Dr. Priest served as Chancellor from 1965 to 1981. He is credited with building the community college system in Dallas. Today, the DCCCD is comprised of seven different colleges located throughout Dallas County, the R. Jan LeCroy Center for Educational Telecommunications, and various centers across Dallas County.

In addition to being the founding chancellor of DCCCD, Dr. Priest held leadership positions in a number of national community college initiatives including:

  • Serving as a founder of the League for Innovation in the Community College
  • President of the American Association of Community Colleges
  • Chairman of the American Council on Education

Although the community college was a major part of Dr. Priest's life, he also has had a lifelong love of baseball. He played professional baseball (a pitcher) and was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at the University of California at Berkeley. Additionally, he served his country as an intelligence officer for the United States Navy in the Philippines and postwar Japan.

He is a man loved and respected by people nationally who have benefited from his commitment to the community college movement and to the students the community college serves. Dr. Priest was born September 23, 1917 and died December 31, 2014.

To watch a tribute to Bill J. Priest by the Dallas County Community College District, visit: https://www.dcccd.edu/AU/WhoWeAre/History/Pages/Bill-Priest-Tribute.aspx 

Graduates of the Community College Cognate Program in Higher Education

  • Dr. Cindy CastañedaCindy Castañeda

    PhD in Higher Education, 2004

    Community College Leadership Certificate, 2004

    Current Position

    Professor of Government, Eastfield College

    Reflections on Higher Education

    Take the time to get to know the people in your classes as individuals. You each have talent, expertise and passion and can use that to help one another in class, personally and in your professional futures.

  • Dr. Matthew ConnellMatthew Connell

    PhD in Higher Education, 1993

    Current Position

    Dean, Monroe Campus, Northampton Community College

    Reflections on Higher Education

    Ernest Boyer's Campus Life: In Search of Community, published in 1990, serves as a guide for the work I do with our students, our faculty and staff, and our community. I was introduced to this report while a student at North Texas. I still refer to it today.

  • Dr. Bill CoppolaBill Coppola

    PhD in Higher Education, 1999

    Current Position

    President, Tarrant County College - Southeast Campus

    My time at UNT taught me to value of intellectual stimulation. The Higher Education Program created an environment where all topics can be freely discussed and debated, we were frequently challenged to look beyond ourselves. This experience has helped me in achieving my goals, and bringing this type of environment to my present institution.

  • Dr. Tahita Niemeyer FulkersonTahita Niemeyer Fulkerson

    PhD in Higher Education, 1987

    Current Position

    Retired Founding President, Trinity River Campus, Tarrant County College District, Fort Worth TX

    Reflections on Higher Education

    Higher education - especially in community colleges - is one of the nation's highest callings. Where else can you work directly with students who are the first in their families to go to college? Where else can you watch a student grow (to her own surprise!) into a learner and a leader? Where else can you work with a young man who dropped out of high school because of drugs and then found himself and became an advisor to troubled kids in his former high school? The stories of these students will inspire and encourage you. Teaching them will change your life.

  • Dr. Rodney U. GarrettRodney U. Garrett

    Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education, 2006

    Community College Leadership Certificate, 2006

    Current Position

    Associate Professor of Higher Education, Dallas Baptist University

    Reflections on Higher Education

    The doctoral degree is for “support” and not for “show.” Utilize the degree to support and serve others.

  • Dr. Fred HillsFred Hills

    PhD in Higher Education, December 2010

    Community College Leadership Certificate, December 2010

    Current Position

    Dean of Arts, Science and Business, McLennan Community College

    Reflections on Higher Education

    UNT's Higher Education program provided me insights into the theory and practice of higher education, both for 2-year and 4-year institutions. I found of special value the camaraderie and the networking opportunities I had with fellow students and faculty. The Priest Center and the Community College Leadership Certificate offered unique opportunities to learn about and visit with community college leadership while in the program that have served me well in the years since my completion of the program.

  • Dr. Mary ReidMary Reid

    PhD in Higher Education, 2005

    Current Position

    Clinical Assistant Professor, College of Nursing and Health Innovation, University of Texas - Arlington

    Reflections on Higher Education

    Getting my PhD from UNT opened so many career doors for me. I had applied to be on research panels prior to receiving this degree and was always turned down. Now I am being asked to be on more than I can accept, and asked to speak for organizations. Just take it one course/one semester at a time and talk to your professors - they are there to help you succeed. I felt very supported by them - even when I felt that I could not go on, they were there with motivational talks. I am so very proud to tell people I got my PhD from UNT.