Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
The Alamo Colleges board of trustees voted unanimously Saturday morning to make Ruben Michael "Mike" Flores the community college district's new chancellor, starting Oct. 1. He will be the first Hispanic chancellor of the five-campus district.
President of the district's Palo Alto College, Flores will move up to replace Bruce Leslie, who is retiring after having served as chancellor for the last 11 years. The board of trustees named Flores as the sole candidate for the job three weeks ago.
After each board member voted to name Flores the next chancellor, with two casting votes over the phone, attendees of the meeting gave him a standing ovation with more than a minute of applause.
"This is a very special day, and a very, very special board meeting," Board President Yvonne Katz said.
Flores is not only Alamo Colleges' first Hispanic chancellor, but also the first chancellor to be hired internally.
"I think that speaks very highly of the talent that we have in the Alamo Colleges," he told the Rivard Report. "I am from San Antonio. I believe I have a sense and understanding of the community."
Following the vote, Flores introduced his family, including his wife and two daughters, and distant relatives, some of whom had traveled from Del Rio to support him.
"It has been a solid foundation that has been laid over the last 11 years, and it has been a wonderful journey for me from the time that I joined the Alamo Colleges 19 years ago," he said. "It seems that it is just a blink of an eye."
State law mandates that public colleges and universities must observe a 21-day waiting period from the time a sole candidate for president, chancellor, and similar roles is announced to when a vote of affirmation can be taken. At the beginning of this period, Katz announced the Palo Alto College president would use this time to get to know the community through listening sessions and community forums.
None of the proposed meet-and-greets were held, and Alamo Colleges did not respond to requests for interviews with Flores during the waiting period. Flores said he did host the first in a tour of town halls at San Antonio College last week.
The rationale behind requiring a 21-day waiting period is to give community members the time to ask questions and provide feedback, or allow board members time to gather information relevant to the vote.
Katz said at a board meeting Tuesday night that Flores will transition into his new role in a process that will last through October or November. The process will include appearing at forums with Leslie and meet-and-greets with community members. She said it will be important for Flores to meet with stakeholders both inside and outside Alamo Colleges.
"We told him a week and a half ago, he better get his track shoes on because it will be very fast and furious," Katz said on Tuesday.
Flores, who has been president of Palo Alto College since 2012, is a graduate of Holmes High School and the University of Texas at San Antonio, giving him deep local roots.
He said Alamo Colleges is developing a plan for the transition process for both himself and Leslie. The search for Flores' replacement at Palo Alto College will begin soon, and Flores said he hopes to have someone in place by Sept. 1.