Trustees would not say how many candidates were interviewed.
By Alison Graef
The Alamo Colleges board of trustees voted unanimously to appoint Dr. Ruben Michael Flores, president of Palo Alto College, as finalist for chancellor after about 3 1/2 hours in executive session at a special board meeting Feb. 8 at Killen Center.
This followed an almost five-hour executive session Feb. 6, in which two candidates were interviewed. Interviews were conducted in a locked building at Killen.
Chancellor Bruce Leslie announced Oct. 23 he will retire Sept 30.
The new chancellor will begin in fall 2018.
Board Chair Yvonne Katz, District 7 trustee, said the board is legally required to have a 21-day period after selecting a finalist during which the public is permitted to evaluate the candidate and submit feedback.
District 2 trustee Denver McClendon said Feb. 7 only the finalist’s name will be released because other candidates would not want their current employers to know they are considering other employment.
District 9 trustee Joe Jesse Sanchez said the board interviewed each candidate once before deciding on Flores. “Overall, he impressed us the most; he was the more qualified candidate.”
Katz, Sanchez and McClendon would not reveal how many candidates the board interviewed or how many were recommended by the advisory committee.
“It just is important to keep the number confidential,” Katz said. “We had a very good number of people who applied, and the search advisory committee looked at (them) and made a decision of who they would interview and who to send forward to the board. … It’s confidential because the law allows us to carry out a confidential search, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Sanchez said, “I thought the decision that was made was the best decision that this board could make.”
Katz said she expects Flores to be “very well” received by the community.
“He’s a local candidate, he’s a local president, and knows the community and knows the colleges and knows the policies of the district,” Katz said. “He knows the community, he knows the people and knows his colleagues, who he has worked with all these years, and that’s a strength.”
McClendon said the search committee represents faculty, students and community members, so there is no need to have multiple finalists for public evaluation.
“We go through the citizens committee — they make recommendations to us. We further
define those recommendations and hopefully come up with one candidate who fits our needs,” McClendon said. “We think that this is a process that has worked in the past and is the best for the institution and for the people who are applying for the job.”
Katz said she met with a staff member of state Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, to discuss objections to the search process.
After that meeting, Menéndez sent the board a letter expressing concern about transparency and lack of faculty and student representation on the committee. He specifically noted that Northwest Vista College does not have a representative.
“While we applaud the effort to bring community members to the table, we also recognize that faculty and students, who are the nucleus of the colleges, are not appropriately included on the committee,” Menéndez wrote.
He requested the board add the Faculty Senate president from Northwest Vista and “allow for a vetting through community forums for all the stakeholders to contribute to the chancellor selection.”
“I don’t find anything wrong with it at all,” District 1 trustee Joe Alderete Jr. said. “We have citizens reflecting every aspect of the community.”
He said students and faculty are appropriately represented on the 23-member committee, with two students representatives and representatives from four of the five Alamo Colleges.
Alderete counted Cynthia Katz, professor at St. Philip’s College, as a representative of both her home college and Northwest Vista because she is president of the districtwide Faculty Super Senate.
Sanchez said trustees conducted interviews in a building adjacent to the building at Killen Center that houses the board meeting room.
District 8 trustee Clint Kingsbery said the board met there because its conference room was a more personal setting to conduct an interview.