Board has been considering the chancellor’s retirement for “some time.”
By Zachary-Taylor Wright
The chancellor announced he will be retiring one month after he is set to receive an incentive bonus from the board and two months after he entered a three-year employment contract with the board at the board meeting Oct. 23 at Killen Center.
Chancellor Bruce Leslie announced his plans to retire on Sept. 30 after a roughly 30-minute executive session with the board of trustees.
Leslie entered a three-year employment contract at the Aug. 28 board meeting that includes a $12,094 salary increase and a new clause allowing the chancellor to earn up to a $45,000 bonus.
According to the contract, the incentive bonus amount to be determined by the board is to be paid to Leslie Aug. 31, exactly one month before his planned retirement.
During an Oct. 24 interview, Leslie was asked why he is choosing to retire Sept. 30. Leslie said he had discussed his retirement with the board for a while now, but it wasn’t “firmed up” during the development of his contract.
Leslie acknowledged college employees and administrators typically retire or leave at the end of a semester or year, saying he originally thought of retiring in January.
Leslie said the board wanted a new chancellor to be announced by mid-August during convocation, so he decided to stay to assist with the new chancellor’s transition.
The contract requires Leslie to present a resignation agreement to the board 9 months before his desired resignation date. Leslie announced his retirement 11 months before his desired resignation of Sept. 30.
The Ranger submitted a request Oct. 23 for any documents detailing Leslie’s retirement.
Leslie applauded the district’s integrity, saying “Everything is transparent. Anytime anybody wants information about anything, it’s right there in front of us. There’s never been hiding anything here.”
Leslie said he worked with the board to determine the best time to retire, allowing the district to maintain the momentum established by the board initiatives he has implemented over the past 10 years.
“I’m passing the mantle back to the board to select my successor to keep momentum going to get to a 50 percent or 75 percent graduation rate, which is tough when most of your students are part time,” Leslie said.
Leslie prides himself, the board and administrators for increasing the number of degrees conferred from 4,219 in 2007, his first commencement here, to 12,759 in 2017.
Board Chair Yvonne Katz, District 7 trustee, said the board is not releasing the chancellor from any of his charges, and he will continue his schedule and attending meetings.
Katz said the board will “laud and applaud him graciously” throughout the year leading to his retirement.
Leslie did not announce any plans for future employment or detail his retirement plans, but he hinted he will not be idle.
“I’m not sure what I’m going to do next, but I’m not going to just sit on the couch,” Leslie said. “Cheryl (his wife) and I like fly fishing, so we’ll do a bit of that. But, I think there’s an opportunity because so many districts need to do what we’re doing.”
Leslie said he may pursue consulting, public speaking or writing.
“I was trying to say I have a lot of knowledge, a lot of experience, a lot of energy,” Leslie said. “I don’t want to be as under the schedule as my life has been for the last few years, but at the same time, I want to continue to be helpful.”
He clarified he will probably not pursue a permanent position, but he would like to continue after retiring from Alamo Colleges, perhaps as a consultant.
After Leslie’s announcement, Katz invited each board member to share their thoughts on the chancellor’s time in the district. Each board member shared positive sentiments.
Leslie said the key thing is momentum and continuity and that the board has been deliberate in adopting initiatives and policy for things to change and to evolve. He continued saying it doesn’t allow for any one individual, such as a board member or chancellor, to eliminate or abandon anything without the board’s approval.
He said the district has set up a system that is built into policy and the “fabric of our culture,” such as mission and values, Baldrige model, principle-centered leadership and the like.
Leslie, calling himself “a disruptive leader,” said, “That’s all built into the fiber now of what we do.”
Leslie, who joined the district Nov. 1, 2006, said he has been talking about retirement for years, mentioning his age as a factor. He is 71 years old.