The presidents of Ranger College and Howard Payne University pledged to be good partners in Brown County higher education before members of the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce attending their monthly luncheon Friday.

“We’ll do this right,” Dr. Bill Campion, president of Ranger College, said as the program’s primary speaker at Brownwood Country Club. “If we make an enemy of Howard Payne University or anyone else, I will have failed.”

Ranger will offer an expanded schedule of classes beginning Monday at its new facilities at Heartland Mall. Campion said Howard Payne officials had expressed concerns about Ranger’s impact when the two-year college proposed opening classes several years ago.

Toward the end of his remarks, Campion yielded the floor briefly to Dr. Bill Ellis, Howard Payne’s new president.

“We see this as an opportunity to bring students to Brown County, for those students to spend money in Brown County and for those students to receive an education in Brown County,” Ellis said. “Howard Payne will be a good partner with you. We have tremendous expertise that would be very costly to bring in from elsewhere. We will look for ways to partner together.”

“Will there be duplication? Perhaps,” Campion told the audience. “But community colleges and four-year liberal arts colleges are not targeted at the same end-users.” He said an ideal role model exists in Abilene, where Cisco Junior College has grown to about 3,500 students while three private four-year colleges there have also thrived.

Campion recapped how Ranger College decided to open an expanded slate of courses in Brown County, and said Ranger’s new executive vice president, Dr. Don Bostic, will live here. He will be relocating this month from New York.

Ranger’s board of trustees hired an architect from Dallas on Aug. 11, Campion said, and drawings for the mall campus are ready for the board’s approval next week. Paul Waldrop Jr. of Brownwood has also been hired as the construction manager.

Even though construction has not begun at the site, classes will open on Monday. Crews will have to work around the students. When students in the existing nursing program at Early are subtracted, Ranger has 122 students enrolled for the fall, and registration is continuing.

Classes include subjects like history, British literature, composition, algebra, federal government, music appreciation, business principles and public speaking. Online courses in some subjects are also being offered.

Campion outlined future plans, including an expanded courses offering in medical fields, banking, police and fire science as well as a stand-alone campus after the lease at the mall ends.

“I want a freestanding college that’s first-class of which you can be particularly proud,” Campion said. “What we’re talking about here is not pie-in-the-sky or something that should be far off.”

He thanked the community for “rolling out the red carpet” in welcoming Ranger College, and also urged community participation in its governance.

“For this to be your community college, you need to be involved in the governance of the institution,” Campion said. “Real governance is based on population density. Of Ranger’s 4 1/2 county service area, where is the population density?” — implying Brown County.

“If 2 to 3 percent of Brown County people are not involved soon with Ranger College, I’ll be surprised, and disappointed,” Campion said.