School Leadership Institute the Holdsworth Center Breaks Ground on Austin Campus

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An exterior rendering of the Learning Center at Holdsworth.

Courtesy / The Holdsworth Center

An exterior rendering of the Learning Center at Holdsworth.

Members of the Holdsworth Center board gathered last week to break ground on a more than $150 million campus on the shores of Lake Austin. Construction is expected to begin in January.

The facility will be the home of a leadership training institute for public school district superintendents and other school leaders, including principals, throughout Texas. The Holdsworth Center was founded in January 2017 by Charles Butt, the chairman and CEO of H-E-B.

The new 44-acre campus, scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2020, will include 16 buildings, a 180-room residential village, a 300-person event room, interactive classrooms, and seminar spaces. The site, designed by Lake Flato and Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, is located close to the Austin 360 bridge.

The headquarters will be used to house leadership cohorts that participate in the Holdsworth Center's programming. Seven districts, including Southwest Independent School District, are currently sending district and campus leaders to programming throughout the year.

Holdsworth Center staff and supporters celebrate as they break ground on the upcoming think tank for public education leadership.

Courtesy / The Holdsworth Center

Holdsworth Center staff and supporters celebrate as they break ground on the upcoming think tank for public education leadership.

"The plan moving forward is to welcome a new campus leadership cohort every summer and start with a new set of districts every summer," Holdsworth Center President Kate Rogers said. "Right now, we move about around the state … [and] hotels have been great to work with, but when we have the campus in place, that’s where our learning sessions will be."
Districts typically spend three to four days a month working with the Holdsworth Center, Rogers said. With more groups participating over time – the goal is to serve 30 districts, 1,500 principals, and 3,000 school leaders within 10 years – these stints will stack on top of one another and require more space to pull off.

While most of the year the headquarters will be in use for Holdsworth events, there will be some time when space is available for other educational entities or nonprofits to use.

The Holdsworth Center chose Austin for its new base because of its central location in the state and the availability of the property on Lake Austin.

Rogers described the center's vision for the property as an "executive education center." In preparation for their own center, the Holdsworth team visited similar facilities throughout the country. The team modeled its plans based on elements that promoted space for collaboration.

One element in particular that stood out from the visits was a gathering place for after-seminar activities. Rogers said she was impressed by the community spaces she saw that allowed guests to form relationships outside the learning environment. As a result, the new campus will contain a building close to the waterfront with outdoor games and space for serving adult beverages.

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