By Austin P. Taylor
Gene Sprague, 72, had a hand in many Alamo Colleges developments during 24 years served.
Sprague approved the funding to establish Northwest Vista College
“There was a bond issue that had occurred right before I came on the board and there was funding available for 12 projects,” he said.
Northwest Vista was not a high priority at that time.
“At the request of my community, we went forward and said ‘we’ve got to have this. It’s going to be the fastest growing area in the county,’ and it still is,” Sprague said. “I argued it and we got the funding for it.”
Sprague was the board chair when five individuals affiliated with the Alamo Colleges, including three former trustees, were indicted for charges of bribery, theft and organized crime, among other charges.
As chair, he started a two-year chair rotation.
‘I said, ‘Look, all of you are as qualified as I am. You all have the right idea of why you’re here,’” he said. “So, I started a tradition, I said I wanted us to change the chair every two years, and we’ve done that up to the present.”
Sprague said he’s running again to ensure there are no interruptions in the Alamo Institutes program.
“We’ve gone through a huge period of success where we have almost tripled the number of graduating students in the last five years,” Sprague said.
Sprague said the current advising program, which asks students to declare a career pathway within their first 15 credit hours, has been a big part of that success.
“I want to see that flourish. I’d hate to see an interruption in our progress at this point,” Sprague said. “I feel very passionate about the need to continue our progress in student success.”
Both Sprague’s son and grandson are graduates of the Alamo Colleges.
Sprague taught a medical terminology night class at this college when he was a doctoral student.
Sprague said community colleges are an important part of a city’s economic development.
“The San Antonio economy does not develop unless we do our job because we’re the ones who train the bulk of the skilled workers for San Antonio,” he said.
He said when he initially decided to run for a seat, former District 6 trustee John MacKenzie and faculty members of this college influenced his decision.
Sprague said he doesn’t solely represent his district. He said no trustee should represent a single district.
“The idea is not to pit my area against the South Side, for example,” he said. “What we should be doing is guaranteeing that every student has equal opportunity and equal funding for their education to go to the Alamo Colleges and has quality resources to serve their community.”
Sprague said the recently passed CIP bond reflects what the board should be doing. The bond will fund several centers for students to access resources off campus.
He said the board could better serve the district and county by better implementing the Alamo Institutes.
“The idea of the institutes is great, but without the faculty and deans being aligned with that we wouldn’t make it, but they’ve come up with a great plan for us.”
Sprague also said the board should work with the faculty of the Alamo Colleges to implement improved faculty development plans.
He then said the board should begin to focus and expand the district’s workforce development programs.
As District 6 trustee, Sprague said it is his job to help the board operate the district on a fiscally sound basis.