By Sabrina Mitchell
Pulse Staff Reporter
Dr. Robert Garza is humbled to be the newest president of Palo Alto College in the Alamo Colleges District. He is the seventh person to lead Palo Alto College since it opened in 1985.
Garza worked at Palo Alto College from 1999 to 2015 as dean of Student Success, dean of Community Development and Partnerships, and vice president of Student Success. He obtained a Ph.D. in Educational Administration in Higher Education from the University of Texas at Austin; a Master of Public Administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and a Bachelor’s in Agricultural Development from Texas A&M University.
Garza, a Brownsville native, recently served as president of Mountain View College, part of the Dallas County Community College District, from February 2015 until now. His main goal as PAC’s president is to encourage students to continue their education for a better future.
“I know that he is very passionate and supportive of his faculty and staff. I know he cares about his community,” said Priscilla Lopez, senior advisor of Student Success. “I think he’s going to be a great president because of his passion for the community and for the campus.”
He considers the community as his family since he has been with Palo Alto for 16 years. He believes it is important for him to give back to the South Side community.
“I’m hopeful that we can continue to increase the folks who are graduating from Palo Alto College. I’m hoping that we can find better ways to engage with students, not only academically, but I want folks to be connected with the institution and that they are part of the PAC family. Family is important,” Garza said.
Gilbert Jimenez, a 20-year-old PAC student, said, “I haven’t gotten to meet him yet, but I expect that he will build a good bond with the student body and is open to feedback that should be brought to PAC to help students.”
Garza believes student success is his success. Seeing students walk the stage at graduation motivates him to keep being engaged with the students. Garza sees nothing but potential in current students and future students.
Every year, more and more people in the South Side community either drop out, spend many years in a community college, or don’t apply to go to college at all.
“I think we need to do a better job bringing in more students to enroll, not because it’s great for enrollment, but it just means that we are serving more students from our community. I think that that is important for us,” said Garza.
Because many students go part time, it takes them longer to graduate.
“We want students to start with us, and then to transition with us. If we can work with students to take more classes and finish sooner, then they can transition to that employment or transfer into that four-year institution at an earlier time and have those opportunities to be more successful sooner than later.”
Even though it can be challenging trying to get people to stay dedicated to continuing school or encouraging others to attend school, Garza says he will never give up.
To contact Garza, email him at email@example.com or call him at (210) 486-3960.