Dean of academic success candidate discusses the importance of good advisers.
By Austin P. Taylor
During the last of the four scheduled open forums for candidates for the dean of academic success position July 17 on the fourth floor of Moody Learning Center, Dr. Abel Gonzales spoke on his experience with the advising department of this college and how it shaped his academic career.
“I scheduled an appointment, the counseling adviser sat down with me and said ‘I need your academic transcript’” Gonzales said “So he looked at my transcript and he said ‘you are going to enroll in Texas A&M University-Kingsville as an education major and you are going to graduate.’ I didn’t know how to do that.”
Gonzales said the adviser, Mr. McCarthy, showed him how to enroll, apply for scholarships and financial aid and take care of housing.
“For me, it was a magical experience. I was able to envision my own academic success and feel like I belonged to something,” he said. “But the reality is that I set that educational trajectory for myself at a community college.”
Administrative assistant Rose Gonzalez asked Gonzales if he had any plans for the dual-credit program at this college.
“It seems that there is always an idea of improvement around dual-credit,” Gonzales said. “One of the things I see myself doing within this particular opportunity is really acting as a facilitator and collectively working with the existing team to plan what the vision would be.”
Gonzales said this college’s dual credit program needs to “bridge the gap with faculty” to make sure they understand the program and its students. Gonzales said dual-credit students need to be brought into the program in a timely manner, have the rigor of college courses properly explained to them and have their learning outcomes properly aligned to meet state standards.
“All of this is going to have to come with very difficult work on multiple levels,” he said.
Gonzales said this college could do more to improve college access.
“A lot of this comes from creating a presence very early on for students. Being involved with middle schools and early high schools and creating awareness on higher education and community college,” he said.
Gonzales said he would like to start preparing students for college before they register. Citing the “UTSA Ready” program, Gonzales said students developing math and English skills before they enroll at a college or university is an important step in that direction
“The reality is that students are coming from K-12 to the community college to a university, so haven’t we had a dialogue around the instructional components?” he said. “My idea is to start bringing individuals together across the K-20 spectrum to start having discussions about instructional alignment.”
Gonzales said his goal at this college is to make a positive change in the San Antonio community.
“I want to make a change for students. I want individuals who feel they are going outward and they have something to contribute to society.”
Gonzales graduated from Texas A&M University–Kingsville in 1996 with a bachelor’s of science and earned his master’s of science in 2004. He earned his doctorate in educational leadership earlier this year.
Gonzales worked at Palo Alto College from 2008-14, where he served as the director for Gateway to College, Title 5, STEM and dual credit programs.
He has worked at UTSA as the director of Instructional outreach programs since October 2014.
Gonzales was the first of four candidates to be interviewed for the dean of academic success position. His full bio and résumé, along with a recording of the open forum, can be found at http://alamo.edu/sac/Academic-Dean-Open-Forums/.
Vernell Walker, dean of professional and technical education, is leading the search committee. She can be reached at 210-486-0920 or email@example.com.
The dean of academic success position will report to Dr. Jothany Blackwood, vice president for academic success at this college. She can be reached at 210-486-0950 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This college’s executive team will announce the chosen candidate next week.