Alamo Colleges will be evaluated for national award

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Employees interviewed by examiners are asked to report to administration, public relations director said.

By Sergio Medina

Examiners from the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program will be visiting the Alamo Colleges Oct. 1-5 and this college Oct. 2, for consideration for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

The award is “the highest level of national recognition for performance excellence that a U.S. organization can receive,” reads the program’s website at

Organizations are considered for the award by showing and ensuring “continuous improvement in overall performance in delivering products and/or services” and providing satisfactory approaches to satisfy customers and stakeholders.

On Sept. 14, Chancellor Bruce Leslie sent an email notifying all employees the district’s application for the award, submitted in April, had been accepted.

“It is our responsibility now to be prepared for a Baldrige site visit during the first week of October 2018,” the email read.

The email continues, “Each Alamo Colleges District staff member should be proud of this success because our application is an attempt to tell our story achievement.”

Similarly, President Robert Vela sent out an email Sept. 25 to employees specifying that the examiners will “conduct walkabouts where they will conduct short interviews with employees.”

His email ends by encouraging employees to call Dean Francisco Solis at 210-486-0903 if interviewed by Baldrige personnel during the 1-2 p.m. Oct. 2 visit.

Vanessa Torres, director of public relations, said in an interview Sept. 27 that a consultant by the name of John Politi, who was contracted by the district, met with administration Sept. 25.

“It was a recommendation, made by the consultant that came to speak to the college executive team and several of the college leaders, that if there is anybody who is interviewed by the examiners, Dean Solis is going to be collecting that information for our information,” Torres said.

Torres said the college will want to know who was interviewed, questions asked and information volunteered to the examiners.

Ultimately, Torres said the idea is for administration to meet in the future to formulate an evaluation of the visit by examiners. The information gathered about interviews with employees will be one of the factors for the evaluation.

“Just for our own growth as a college,” she said, adding to learn and implement measures to deal with future award considerations and visits.

As an example, Torres said the district is under consideration for the annual Texas Award for Performance Excellence, which was last won by the district in 2016.

“It’s like the state version of the Baldrige award,” she said.

Attached to Vela’s email was a brochure provided by district, advising employees how to interact with the examiners as they visit colleges.

“Don’t volunteer areas of weakness. A site visit is not a confessional,” the brochure advises.

Instead, it encourages employees to address how areas of improvement are being dealt with.

When asked about what would happen if employees respond negatively to a question, Torres said, “Of course we’d love people to be positive. That’s always a great thing. Dr. (Robert) Vela is more concerned with people being open, honest and truthful.”

Torres continued, “From what I gather, they really want to know the truth, ‘what’s SAC about?’ ‘What do we do well?’ Or maybe ‘what’s something that we can improve upon?’”

Torres said Vela wants to know what makes San Antonio College great and what can we do to improve.

“We always want to be getting better. Dr. Vela is very committed to that.”


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