By Oziel Trevino
Pulse staff reporter
Over the past five years, Dr. Ruben Michael “Mike” Flores has succeeded in increasing the college’s graduation rate and also in bringing in new programs, like Cosmetology and Early College High Schools, while gaining recognition for Palo Alto College at both the state and national levels.
“Dr. Flores has laid out a very ambitious but thoughtful vision for the college, and we are all really supportive of it and work really hard to make sure that we advance those goals,” said Dr. Beatriz Joseph, vice president of College Services. “I think we will be the best performing community college in San Antonio.”
The Early College High Schools are designed to bring high school students to a community college to earn hours toward a college degree. Five school districts (Jourdanton Independent School District, Lytle Independent School District, Poteet Independent School District, Somerset Independent School District and Southside Independent School District) participate in the program. In the coming Fall of 2017, two more high schools will be added.
The Cosmetology program has also brought new opportunities for college students who want to pursue that career field. Palo Alto’s program costs one-third the cost of private programs. Seventeen Cosmetology students will graduate this May 2017 with a certificate and/or an associate’s of Applied Science.
The graduation rate for full-time college students has increased from 11.6 percent in 2011 to 21.3 percent in 2015. For part-time college students it has increased from 5.9 percent to 12.6 percent. Although the graduation rate has increased, Flores is always searching for new ways to improve student success.
“Palo Alto College is important because we have committed faculty and staff who support students in achieving their dreams,” said Flores.
“I’ve worked for him for about 10 years now, and he is an amazing boss,” said Connie Acovio, administrative assistant to the president. “He’s a very outgoing person. He welcomes anyone who wants to come to the office to talk to him. I make time for him to walk around campus. He likes to talk to anyone.”
Over the tenure of his presidency, Palo Alto College received the TAPE award (Texas Award for Performance Excellence) in 2015. The college was also the only educational institution in the nation to receive a site visit from the prestigious Baldridge National Quality Award in the Fall of 2016.
The opening of the “S.H.A.R.E.” Center at Palo Alto College in the past year–The Student Health, Advocacy, Resources and Engagement Center–provides students with the help they need, such as a food pantry, a clothes closet and health care services.
Flores’ journey first started when he graduated from Holmes High School in Northside ISD in 1987. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Austin, a Master of Science in Political Science from Illinois State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Flores’ path to Palo Alto started in 1999 when he became a part-time manager of Institutional Research, Dean, Vice President of College Services/Student Success and later Academic Success before becoming president in 2012.
Besides being devoted to PAC, Flores loves spending time with his family. He is married to Martha Martinez-Flores, who works in the advertising industry. Flores and his wife are proud parents of two young daughters, Mara Zoe and Mia Ximena. They love spending time together as a family, taking walks through downtown San Antonio and attending as many PAC events, such as PACfest, as possible.
Flores hosts town hall meetings throughout the year, and he invites faculty, staff and students to attend. This open forum is an opportunity to discuss issues of concern. The next town hall meeting is scheduled to take place in the Performing Arts Center, Room 190, on Sept. 21 at 2 p.m.