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San Antonio’s two largest community colleges need new presidents

Students climb the stairs of the Chance Academic Center on the San Antonio College campus in June, 2018.
File Photo |Camille Phillips | Texas Public Radio

The Alamo Colleges District’s two largest community colleges need new presidents. Northwest Vista’s Ric Baser is retiring at the end of May, and San Antonio College’s Robert Vela is leaving in June to become president of Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

Many Texas colleges are undergoing leadership changes right now, but Alamo Colleges District Chancellor Mike Flores said he’s not concerned that the increased competition could make hiring two new presidents more difficult.

Instead, he said the main challenge will be finding the right candidates.

“We're fortunate that each of the institutions and the faculty, staff and community are really attractive places to be. It's an exciting time to be either at Northwest Vista or at SAC and Alamo,” Flores said, noting that San Antonio College won the Aspen Prize for community college excellence in 2021 and that Northwest Vista was invited to compete for the prize in 2023.

“I think that we will have uber-competitive pools, and that a lot of folks are wanting to come to be part of the Alamo Colleges,” Flores said.

The search is already underway for Northwest Vista’s next president because Baser announced his retirement in January. The search committee will interview semi-finalists at the beginning of June, and Flores will interview finalists later in the month. He plans to recommend a candidate for the position to the board of trustees in July or August, with a goal of having the next president on the job by Sept. 1.

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Education News Desk, including H-E-B Helping Here, Betty Stieren Kelso Foundation and Holly and Alston Beinhorn.

The search for the next president of San Antonio College is slated to begin in September, with an ideal start date of Jan. 2.

Flores said Northwest Vista College will be jointly led by the college’s three vice presidents over the summer. San Antonio College’s dean of performance excellence, Frank Solis, will serve as SAC’s interim president for the next six months.

Flores said he’s looking for candidates who are “spectacular leaders” that can also work as part of a team and be willing to support and follow others.

“Somebody who honors the legacy of each institution, the legacy of their predecessor, and what has been established at each college and throughout Alamo and in the community, but somebody who's also willing to make their own mark, and to take and lead the institution forward for the next chapter,” Flores said.

“I think COVID has provided and exposed a number of challenges that exists within our community, and we're going to rely on them to be part of the team to help us provide those solutions.”

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