Time for a new kind of leader

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Chancellor’s long-awaited exit highlights poor decision-making by the board of trustees.

Chancellor Bruce Leslie announced Oct. 22 that his 11-year tenure as chancellor of the Alamo Colleges will come to an end Sept. 30, 2018.

Leslie’s announcement came after years of faculty, staff and students decrying his insistence on creating districtwide standards, encroaching on the autonomy of the individual colleges and infringing on faculty’s right to academic freedom.

Leslie’s poor stewardship led Northwest Vista, St. Philip’s and this college into unnecessary trouble with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in renewing accreditation.

Northeast Lakeview College hasn’t been accredited since opening in 2007.

Faculty at Northwest Vista, Palo Alto, St. Philip’s and this college issued a vote of no confidence in Leslie in 2009, representing more than 90 percent of all full-time faculty at the colleges, according to “NVC faculty revive no-confidence in Leslie” published Sept. 19, 2016.

Northwest Vista College faculty members were still dissatisfied with Leslie seven years later and voted to re-affirm their vote of no confidence.

The students of Palo Alto College even called for Leslie to resign in 2015 after he replaced real degrees with meaningless transfer degrees.

But don’t feel too bad for Leslie: Next year, he might be taking $45,000 of Alamo Colleges taxpayer and tuition funds and immediately leave.

His recently signed 2018 contract increased his salary to $415,217 per year, plus auto and phone allowance, plus a potential $45,000 incentive bonus, which he is conveniently scheduled to receive exactly one month before his retirement.

Trustees of the Alamo Colleges, however, might be responsible for the even more outrageous act.

They awarded Leslie a lucrative contract though they claim to have expected his retirement for several years.

For years, Leslie has pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars from this district and given back little but poor morale and a troublesome future for the district.

He has made no known investment in property in the community. He’s simply taken.

He’s started myriad costly, time-consuming projects and now prepares to leave us with our hands full of silly initiatives no one else wanted: Alamo Confidence, Alamo Institutes, Alamo Pathways, Alamo ad infinitum.

The trustees are proud of the $450 million bond issue for improvements around the district approved by voters in May. 

They also enthusiastically approved $60 million for a palatial new facility for district support operations Leslie fought for.

All while the colleges faced year after year with reduced operating budgets.

But there was always money for Franklin Covey and a host of other consultants and project partners.

Leslie came into the Alamo Colleges, set us marching toward the edge of a cliff, and now, upon leaving, imagines we will march onward.

Experience suggests a new chancellor will arrive with a suitcase full of personally important initiatives and the focus will shift to those priorities, leaving the Leslie legacy in the dust.

So this time, we need to find a chancellor better suited to our needs.

This district desperately needs a leader who can act with transparency, without hiding behind bureaucratic doublespeak and teach the confused trustees by example what transparency in government actually means.

We need a leader who listens, partakes in open dialogue and can negotiate compromise.

We need a leader who respects the loyal employees of the district and gets out of their way to let them do the jobs they have done for years without despotic oversight and idiotic busy work.

We need someone who can value the individual character of each of the Alamo Colleges and celebrate that diversity.

Mostly, we need someone who places priority on the classroom and funds the colleges first.

And maybe trustees can find someone who hasn’t been fired from a string of positions and is currently employed.

Thank you to the chancellor for finally relinquishing the office, and shame on trustees for ignoring the collective hundreds of years of experience in our employees.


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