Chancellor appointment opaque

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Amanda Graef

Alamo Colleges community should have a voice in the selection.

The Alamo Colleges website under Chancellor’s Welcome states that the page is intended “ … to provide open and transparent communication.”

Unfortunately, the board of trustees has either confused transparency with secrecy in the search for a new chancellor or officials are being deceptive.

These officials are elected by district constituencies to work in the best interest of students. They love to talk about including the “shareholders” as if this collection of academic institutions was a corporation. If it were, trustees would be answering a lot more questions.

The board unanimously appointed Mike Flores, president of Palo Alto College, sole chancellor finalist Feb. 8 to replace Dr. Bruce Leslie.

The board refused to disclose the number of applicants or the names of the finalists interviewed. For all we know, they might not have interviewed anyone. Who would know?

Considering his age, Flores could serve longer than Leslie’s 10-year tenure. Has the process for selection reflected the gravity of the appointment? Hardly.

According to Texas law, the board is required to provide a 21-day evaluation period in which the public can submit feedback on the finalist.

But already, the finalist has fallen in line, deciding to stick with the board’s approach: “It’s none of your business.”

The night the board voted, Flores told The Ranger he wanted to get approval before speaking to the student newspaper. He didn’t need anyone’s approval but wanted to wait for it anyway.

What does that say about the kind of chancellor he will be?

Board Chair Yvonne Katz told The Ranger she and Leslie would secure approval the next day. What did they plan to do? Poll the trustees? That is patently illegal. So once again, officials dodged a chance at transparency in favor of operating out of public view.

Meet-and-greet events with the finalist within the 21–day period were cancelled in favor of chancellor town hall meetings over the next six months.

Town halls will be accessible to employees, excluding students and the public. Flores said students are welcome at the town hall meetings.

The chancellor oversees a $500 million budget and 60,000 students.

We don’t want a chancellor to act as a political puppet, waiting on the board to tell him what to say and when; nor do we want another “entrepreneur,” as Flores’ biography describes him, who is more interested in capital improvement projects and endless initiatives than resolving issues such as fair pay for adjuncts or equal pay for lab hours.

This community yearns for a chancellor who will put every student, faculty and staff member above his own political agenda and produce positive and progressive results.

The board of trustees left one way for individuals to make their voice known in this process — contact board liaison Sandra Mora at 210-485-0030 or smora@alamo.edu to find your district representative and how to contact them.

Apparently, contact information on publicly elected officials must be treated like a state secret as well.

Some transparency.

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