Community Alert: February 17, 2017
Next Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees Meeting
Bruce Leslie’s journey started in San Antonio in 2006, being hired as Chancellor of the Alamo Colleges – a system that serves the 7th largest city in the United States.
However in 2017, the Alamo Colleges does not rank in the top 10 community colleges and more importantly with all of the changes that were to improve the 5 colleges of the district, today 4 out of 5 have been warned for possible loss of accreditation and or never had accreditation. This is very bad. On ValueColleges.com’s top 50 list for best community colleges, we were disheartened and angered that Alamo Colleges failed to make that long list. Again the City of San Antonio is the 7th largest US City. Why would any potential business partner and investor think to relocate to an environment where the basic college education isn’t performing as good as or better than 50 other US communities?
Today, the name Bruce Leslie makes us ask, “does San Antonio have the US President’s twin brother in Chancellor Bruce Leslie?” The Chancellor came to the Alamo City blazing with promises of positive change, touted for his top down leadership style that would finally place the Alamo Colleges at the top of our nation. In fact, under his leadership the Alamo College students would be able to best experience cutting edge education leading to competitive four year schools, or high job placement rates to satisfy our large employer demands.
To motivate him to greatness, Chancellor Leslie is one of the top paid in his field at $403,123. He is among the highest paid community college chancellors in the country. His Board of Trustees said they reached that figure after researching salaries of other large community college districts in Texas. If size was a determining factor, what about performance?
With the poor headlines the Alamo Colleges receive by the news media and general public, how does Leslie and his Board survive? Leslie’s contract will need renewing August 31, 2019 but the real question is can the city wait for this leader to turn around many of his personal initiatives into victories? It’s been over a decade and the college today is in a worst position that when Leslie took the helm in 2006.
Even when faculty, staff, students, and tax payers became frustrated with Leslie’s Trump style of leadership, a top national and city leader, former US HUD Secretary and former City of San Antonio Mayor, Henry Cisneros, came to Leslie’s rescue penning an editorial on April 19, 2015, to the Express News entitled “Removing Leslie at Alamo Colleges would be Mistake.”
A little over one year later, the Board of trustees doubled down on the sentiments of Cisneros by providing the Alamo Colleges Chancellor Bruce Leslie with a 6 percent raise and an increase to his automobile and technology allowances after he and the colleges’ trustees came to an agreement on a contract extension. Back then Board trustee Denver McClendon who voted in favor of the contract in August 2016 stated “I think he’s done a good job, and with that he needs to be rewarded accordingly.” Each of his peers has been consistent with echoing that support. But the voices on social media have been calling for the head of the Chancellor because of his decisions.
“Maybe they all need to go”, one blogger writes.
ACCD Board of Directors
Another person writes: “This was totally predictable. Over the last decade Leslie has single-mindedly pushed his agenda to erase individuality and autonomy at the college campuses. This debacle must be laid squarely at the feet of Leslie's administration. The Board of Trustees shares responsibility for this fiasco; they enabled Leslie's actions over the years. A once well-respected institution of higher learning, now run into the ground by bumbling administrators; this is Leslie's legacy.”
At the end of 2016, Chancellor Leslie received an avalanche of bad news that hit the Alamo Colleges - namely news reporters questioning his travel to Ireland and his staffs travel to expensive overseas hotspots of Dubai, the United Arab Emirates and India. Second blow, three of the campuses (San Antonio College, St. Philip’s College and Northwest Vista College) are in jeopardy of not having any accreditation impacting hundreds of thousands of students within the Alamo College system and even high schools who boast some of their partnerships provide early college credits. A fourth college, Northeast Lakeview College, has yet to receive independent accreditation despite opening in 2007. And the last headline, now meeting immediate resistance is the same Chancellor and Board have voted 9 to1 to ask the taxpayers to foot a $450 Million Bond proposal. What is the recent string of victories that would make the board believe they can have our vote of confidence? With fraud, waste and abuse being reported, why would the Board feel comfortable asking for more?
Maybe the leadership philosophy is what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas? How can a Chancellor gamble to do things his way and lose it all at the poker table? Now, the pats on the back and his large pay raise, are in jeopardy, and potentially should embarrass everyone who believed in his vision to consolidate the Alamo Colleges. Even as the communities silently protested and rejected the idea of this type of consolidation, Leslie failed to be proactive by meeting with the community he wanted to change, and did not seek first to understand. In fact he tightened up policy within the schools to prevent open communication and visits by Board of Trustees to college campuses with his approval.
The case that impacts our readership the most is Bruce Leslie’s decision to remove the long history and heritage of a Historically Black College and Hispanic Learning Institution, and trade it in for Covey’s 7 Leadership Principles curriculum. He is the Chancellor who guided the change of the school’s historic crest and logo removal. He attempted to dummy St. Philip’s down so it would no longer have an identity as being the “Pride of the East Side.” It was stated in another newspaper that it could cost up to $7 million for St Philip’s to fix this major mistake and reclaim its well needed independence.
We wonder if the Leslie administration is following the heartbeat of the Trump administration. The Board and administration is trying to change the failing narrative by causing chaos by having the voters to consider approving a $450 Million bond measure for the May 2017 election. This decision will occur BEFORE the city has received accountability on whether or not the three college campuses achieved their accreditation and if Northeast Lakeview can finally achieved its’ initial independent accreditation. Shouldn’t this be where the attention is applied, taking care of first things first?
Listen, the Alamo Colleges currently have no accountability at the position of chancellor and the Board Chair. Why, because there has been no acknowledgement that previous decisions and priorities the Chancellor made to consolidate the Alamo Colleges under one identity had major risk. The Board defends their process but like our President, choose not to fire their Chancellor for poor decision making but condones the hostile environment he has created. Additionally, with the press making an issue to the lack of accreditation, perhaps inappropriate travel to the tune of half million dollars, and now a proposal of an almost half billion dollar bond, the storm clouds are lining up for more potential failure. Will he resign as National Security Advisor Flynn has done so in Washington DC?
“We the people” should demand the Chancellor and the Board of the Alamo Community College, to account for their mistakes and stop passing the big bucks (in salaries, executive travel, and creating the illusion that the bond cannot wait for another year to place on the ballot). If any campus loses accreditation, the top leader is responsible – and should be the sacrifice. We encourage him in advance to step down or be fired if any of the three campuses fail to meet accreditation.
The voters need to know the next Board of Trustee races will be held in 2018 for District’s 5, 6, and 7. District 7 is the office of the current Board Chair, Dr. Yvonne Katz. If the board enables the chancellor to continue to fail and increase his wages, then you can vote them out of office. Start the conversations to who would be great candidates to replace these trustees. This is what change should look like.
Now, in the spirit of the Convey 7 Leadership Principles, my version has a bonus habit, and that is to “Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.” Go to our website and complete the survey and tell us how you feel. Next call your ACCD Board of Director and let them know how you feel. This should be done now with no delay. The Board Meeting on February 17, 2017 should enable the elected board members to know exactly what you say. We have to save the Alamo Colleges as the dictatorship must come to an end. It’s better now than later!