New director of student life seeks positive changes

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Richard Farias

Richard Farias

Former English instructor seeks suggestions from students for activities; closes Bailey’s Cyber Café.

Katherine Garcia

Richard Farias, director of student life, isn’t afraid of change.

The 1996 graduate of Health Careers High School originally wanted to be a physical therapist, but he pursued his passion for English instead.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in English and psychology from the University of the Incarnate Word in 2000.

He then got a master’s in English from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2003.

He’s taught English classes at this college since 2005 and still teaches British literature courses as an adjunct.

He made a major career change when he started the job of student life director May 16 after being selected from a pool of 12 applicants.

“I love teaching, but I really wanted to challenge myself and do something different,” he said.

Giving up his faculty status wasn’t hard.

“For me, it really wasn’t difficult to change roles,” Farias said.

And in the five months he has been in the position, he is making changes in the office.

Farias plans to have orientation every semester for freshmen.

“It’s so important that there’s a proper welcoming mechanism,” he said.

He wants the office of student life to promote academics, for which he is also taking suggestions.

The Beta Nu chapter of Phi Theta Kappa will help by having second-year students mentor incoming students. The program will be designed this fall and implemented in the spring.

“The goal is for students to succeed and transfer,” he said.

Another change is the Bailey’s Cyber Café removal from the second floor of Loftin Student Center. The café had 13 Mac computers  for students to use for recreational purposes.

“It’s kind of a redundancy to have the lab here,” Farias said.

After talking to Usha Venkat, director of technical services, he agreed it was better to remove the lab rather than replacing the 5-year-old computers, which would cost $25,000.

Farias said the office of technical services wanted to keep the computer labs grouped on the second, fifth and seventh floors of Moody Learning Center because that is a central location.

Counters lining the walls of Room 258 are being used by students who bring their own laptops, but Farias isn’t sure if he wants to keep the counters.

He does want to “give students some opportunities to relax in that area.”

Farias is continuing many of the traditional activities the office of student life has done in the past.

For example, Hispanic Heritage Month starts Sept. 16, a bus trip to participate in an annual beach cleanup in Padre Island is Sept. 28 and a series of Friday night movie screenings began Sept. 6.

“I let the staff keep planning,” Farias said. “They know what they’re doing.”

Farias said he will act as an observer to see what students want out of the office of student life.

Any student who has suggestions for events or improvements may make an appointment.

“I’ve been at SAC for several years, but this is a whole different role,” Farias said.

Farias was the adviser for Gay Allied Lesbian Association for the past five years. He was also the chairperson for Hispanic Heritage Week 2008-09 and Coming Out Week 2010-13. He serves as the board chair of the Pride Center of San Antonio, a nonprofit resource center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

He had worked with student life through these clubs, he said.

“It seemed like a natural transition,” he said in deciding whether to apply.

For more information, call the office of student life at 210-486-0125.


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