MCALLEN, Texas – The chairwoman of South Texas College’s board of trustees says she is impressed with the leadership skills of the sole finalist for the college’s presidency.

Rose Benavidez held a news conference on Thursday to announce that STC’s board of trustees has selected Ricardo Solis as the sole finalist. Solis is currently president of Laredo College.

Asked by the Rio Grande Guardian about Solis’ attributes, Benavidez said: “These are all personal decisions by each board member so I cannot speak for them collectively. But I will tell you that some of the common themes that arose in our conversations were: visionary, strong leadership, the ability to build collaborations, the willingness to be innovative, and not simply build what was here better but build new, better, also.”

Solis will join STC sometime in July, assuming negotiations are successful.

“I think at the end of the day, what we knew was that while geography does not play a whole role in the selection process, it is very important to us in our presidential profile that the individual that will be selected understood the border area, understood our residents, and more importantly, understood the importance of our socio-economic challenges,” Benavidez said.

In her remarks at the news conference, Benavidez said the board of trustees and the presidential search committee spent months in deliberations and interviews. 

“When we arrived at this process we knew full well that this was search was going to be difficult. We were, in fact, trying not to replace but to bring in a new leader to take the place of Dr. Shirley Reed, who has been at our institution for nearly 28 years, since its inception,” Benavidez said.

“So, we were looking as a matter of principle for a person who we felt would be the right fit, not only to keep our institution great but to move it to a level that would transcend any future challenges, including pandemics, and reiterate that South Texas College is not a second choice institution for education but a first-class institution of higher education.”

Benavidez said she was encouraged by what Solis said when asked about the vision he had for STC.

“Talking to him about what his vision was, and what he thought he could do differently at South Texas College, we heard a lot about student success, about academic excellence, and we were very happy to know that that is a critical part of what our next president should be doing. But we also heard about innovation and about movement. And we knew that for this college to continue to be competitive, this had to be an individual that would bring those talents and that vision to align it with our mission and core values at South Texas College.”

Benavidez said the STC board of trustees “feels strongly” that in its selection of Dr. Solis, they have found an individual that will be a collaborator with the board, with faculty and staff and “that this individual will, in fact, be able to continue to build collaborations with our community stakeholders, with our institutions of higher education, and with industry.”

Benavidez said this last point was important because the board realizes that in a post-pandemic world, community colleges “are poised to be the area that actually ensures that there is an economic recovery.”

Benavidez added: “We want South Texas College to be first and foremost in the list of people’s choices of how to recover from this pandemic. So we are pleased to be able to bring to you an individual that shares our values, but has a new vision for how we achieve it.”

In an STC news release about Solis, Benavidez said:

“I am pleased to inform you that the Board of Trustees has named Dr. Ricardo Solis as the sole finalist for the position of President of South Texas College pending final negotiations. He is expected to assume the office in the month of July, 2021. We are excited to welcome Dr. Solis’ leadership as we enter the next chapter of South Texas College’s history.

“The Board is confident that we have found a visionary leader in Dr. Solis whose work will further elevate this great institution while staying true to our mission of access and success. We look forward to building a strong collaboration that will transcend any challenges and cement the legacy of South Texas College as a transformational agent for our region.

“Ricardo Solis, Ph.D., is President of Laredo College in Laredo, Texas. He previously served as Executive Dean for Academic, Professional, and Technical Education at Gateway Community College, Maricopa Community Colleges, in Phoenix, AZ. Dr. Solis earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration – Community College Leadership from the University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas; a Master of Business Administration in International Management from Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California; and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Economics from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.

“I would like to extend my appreciation of each member of the Presidential Search Committee and all our partner stakeholders for their dedication and hard work. We sincerely thank you for your dedication to South Texas College.”

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