ALPINE, Texas – Former congressman Pete Gallego says he wants to give back to his alma mater after being named sole finalist for its presidency.

Sul Ross State University Chancellor Brian McCall on Thursday announced the selection of Gallego to head the 103-year-old institution. McCall said Gallego was selected from a field of nearly 40 candidates following a national search.

Wheless Search and Consulting, an executive search firm, assisted Texas State University System (TSUS) in the Sul Ross presidential search process. 

“The presidential search committee and I were fortunate to have a large field of well-qualified candidates to consider. Pete Gallego emerged as the front-runner by articulating an exciting vision for Sul Ross and demonstrating his intimate knowledge of the university and the communities it serves,” McCall said. “I want to thank Chairman Don Flores and the entire search committee for their time, energy, and dedication to this process.”

Founded in 1917, Sul Ross State University currently has an enrollment of 2,465 students. It offers 29 undergraduate and 23 master’s degree programs. Its mascot is the Lobo. Its administrative offices are in Alpine, Texas.

Gallego earned a bachelor’s degree from Sul Ross State University and a juris doctorate from The University of Texas at Austin. He received Sul Ross’ Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1997.

His decision to seek the presidency brings to an end a political career that included stints in the Texas House of Representatives, where he led the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, and the U.S. Congress. As a Democrat, Gallego served in Congress as representative for the 23rd district of Texas, and in the Texas House as the representative for the 74th district of Texas.

“Sul Ross opened the doors of opportunity for me and many from across Texas,” Gallego said. “I’m excited to work with the communities of Alpine, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Uvalde to make sure our university continues to open doors and provide a top quality education for future generations of our sons and daughters.”

Gallego is a member of the Board of Directors of Texas Access to Justice Foundation and the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission. He has served as president and chairman of the Texas Lyceum Association and is founding chair of the Board of Hispanic Caucus Chairs. He has also served as a part-time faculty member at Sul Ross.

Texas law requires a 21-day waiting period before the Texas State University System’s governing board can consider Gallego’s nomination. If confirmed, Gallego will become Sul Ross’ 13th president–and the only president who is a graduate of the university. Current president William H. Kibler, Ph.D., is retiring this summer after six years of service to Sul Ross.

TSUS consists of seven institutions, one of which being Sul Ross State University. The seven institutions serve more than 86,000 students from the Big Bend Region of West Texas to the Louisiana border. 

Official biography on Sul Ross State University:

Called “possibly the most underrated little university west of the Mississippi,” by television news anchor Dan Rather, Sul Ross State University boasts a combination of small class sizes, an appreciation of both the fine arts and sciences, and popular professional programs in relaxed and friendly west Texas surroundings.

Since its inception, the university has served as the cultural and educational center for the mountainous Big Bend region. Sul Ross is the primary institution of higher education in a 19-county region of west Texas that includes two-thirds of the Texas-Mexico border, and is the only public university between San Antonio and El Paso.

Sul Ross also serves the Middle Rio Grande region of Texas through three campuses in Del Rio, Eagle Pass and Uvalde, which offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees through a unique partnership with Southwest Texas Junior College.

The university’s name honors Lawrence Sullivan “Sul” Ross, the son of a pioneer family, renowned Texas Ranger, Civil War general, Governor of Texas and, later, President of Texas A&M University. Founded as a teacher college, Sul Ross continues to offer teacher education as one of its most popular programs. Other programs in high demand are business, criminal justice, earth sciences and agricultural and natural resource sciences. 

The birthplace of intercollegiate rodeo, Sul Ross has won nine National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association men’s and women’s championships and 24 individual titles over the decades of competition. The university’s commitment to diversity has gained national recognition, including a high ranking in the production of future Latino graduates in science and engineering.

Since 1995, the university has merited “Publisher’s Pick” status by The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education and ranked as one the top 100 institutions in the country for Hispanic students. Sul Ross has one of the highest production rates in the country for the Hispanic students earning their doctorates in geology, science and engineering. 

The university is among the lowest in total costs of any Texas public institution of higher education.