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Former Capital Idea head running for ACC board

Tuesday, May 17, 2022 by Jo Clifton

Three spots on the Austin Community College District Board of Trustees – places 4, 5 and 6 – will be up for election this November. Steve Jackobs, the founder and longtime executive director of Capital Idea, stepped down from the nonprofit this spring to run for the Place 6 seat. The incumbent, Nora de Hoyos Comstock, told the Austin Monitor she does not plan to run for reelection, and no other candidate has filed a campaign treasurer designation needed to run for the seat.

During his 23 years at Capital Idea, Jackobs worked extensively with ACC, giving him a bird’s-eye view of the college and its programs, in particular the nursing program that graduates more than 250 students prepared to become registered nurses each year. Some 3,000 students are studying to apply for the nursing program, which has only 376 spots for them. Jackobs is hopeful the college will be able to double nursing student capacity in the near future as trustees contemplate a bond election this fall.

If they have the funds, Jackobs said, ACC will be able to build a new health science center in the south of the district and also to expand in Round Rock and Eastview, which currently host nursing programs. He learned at a recent meeting that the expansion “would allow us to double the nursing program. I was just thrilled.” 

Jackobs is also a strong proponent of increasing enrollment in ACC’s tech programs. While the school has more capacity than students in that area, he said, it has not done a good job reaching out to prospective tech students. If elected, he said he would work on that issue.

He told the Monitor that working at Capital Idea helping people prepare for school and careers has been particularly meaningful for him because his mother wished to attend college to become a teacher but she never made it.

A graduate of Harvard University with a master’s degree from the University of Sussex, Jackobs became an organizer in Florida and moved to Texas more than 30 years ago to work for Ernie Cortes’ Industrial Areas Foundation. That included work in various cities, including San Antonio and El Paso, before he moved to Austin.

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