Thursday, July 20, 2017


By Juan Montoya
This afternoon, during their special meeting to be held at 5:30 pm. at Gorgas Hall, the members of the board of Texas Southmost College will go into executive session.

When they emerge, they will vote on who will take the helm and become the second president of the institution after its separation from the partnership formed with the University of Texas System in 1991. It has only been since 2013 that the community college has operated independently from the UT  System. The college first opened its doors in 1926, 91 years ago.
david-e-pearsonAfter a series of public forums, the choice has come down to two candidates: Jesus Roberto Rodriguez and David E. Pearson.

TSC, in its website, states that Rodriguez's experience includes serving as the dean for the Business Center of Excellence at Houston Community College since July 2015 and dean for the Lone Star Community College System from February 2006 to July 2012. In between he worked at the Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas, from August 2012 to July 2015.  

Pearson – who was vice president of partnership affairs at the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College from 2006 to 2010 – is also a U.S. Army veteran and was the dean of the San Diego State University Imperial Valley Campus in Calexico, Calif., from 2010 to 2015. 

The selection will surely be influenced by the dynamics of the TSC board. Pearson seems to be a candidate favorable to TSC board president Adela Garza and her majority made up of of Ruben Herrera and Raymond Hinojosa. The opposition against him and for Rodriguez is probably headed by Dr. Rey Garcia, Art Rendon and Dr. Tony Zavaleta. Straddling the middle ground is trustee Trey Mendez who has not shown his hand on the selection.

The Garza majority seems to feel that Pearson has a first-hand knowledge of the inner workings of TSC and will hit the ground running. The learning curve will be smaller than with a newcomer with little knowledge of TSC's past history. As TSC grows – its student enrollment has grown every year – it needs a knowledgeable hand at the helm to steer its course, Pearson' supporters say.

This dynamic is interesting given the historical context of the board. 

Chair Garza and Mendez were two of the four trustees who went against UTB-TSC president Julieta Garcia's plans to allow the UT System to swallow up TSC and all its assets including its bank deposits, real estate, buildings and student scholarship foundation and establish a university doing away with the community college. Two other two former trustees who sided with Garza and Mendez were Kiko Rendon and Rene Torres.

They opted instead to return the community to its original mission and hired former TSC president Lily Tercero to be the first post-partnership TSC president. But, after a few years – because of differences between the board and the president that are being argued in a federal court – the board terminated Tercero and launched this presidential search.

Garcia has had differences with the board majority over Tercero's dismissal and has even filed a complaint with TSC's accrediting agency over allegations that the board's actions violated the accreditation requirements. The agency dismissed the complaint saying there was nothing there.
But that action on Garcia's part indicates that he will be against any candidate he feels is favored by Garza.

Zavaleta, who was a UTB-TSC partnership provost, has expressed his disapproval of the selection process because he feels that given his experience in reading resumes, he should have held center stage. Will Tony act out of spite because of his exclusion and go for Rodriguez? Or will he put his personal differences aside and vote for the best candidate for the college?

Rendon is a weird fish. He has often indicated a willingness to work with the majority, but was one of the "no" votes to terminate Tercero. He is also an employee of the Brownsville Independent School District which has a close relationship with TSC which has been fostered by chair Garza and the majority. Will he jump ship?

That leaves Mendez as the potential swing vote. Mendez was one of the original Fab Four who opposed Julieta Garcia when she was trying to destroy TSC. He also was named as a defendant in the Tercero lawsuit against the college. Will he go along with Dr. Rey Garcia and oppose chair Garza and the usual majority?

Observers say that both choices are excellent administrators and would serve the college well as it moves forward in its mission to provide affordable and accessible academic and vocational education to the poorest community in the United States.

They say that whichever side finds itself in the minority should cast their votes with the majority that mustered the four votes so that the new president will be selected with a unanimous decision that will show board unity and will give him a mandate to lead the college.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Zavaleta should be the President.

Anonymous said...


I'm quite dismayed that you're already choosing sides in the TSC presidential selection process. Using terms like "jump ship....,
put personal differences aside...., hit the ground running....." - you seem to imply that Dr. David Pearson is in the best interests of TSC. Since you did not mention it in your article, may I remind you that Dr. Jesus Roberto Rodriguez is from Eagle Pass (Rio Grande Valley native), has a Ph. D. from UT Austin, has dealt with very large budgets at both Houston Community and Lone Star Colleges, and is a mid career up-and-coming Hispanic educator. A perfect fit for TSC. He will lead the institution into the future, not the past.

Anonymous said...

Zavaleta, STFU,stop glorifying yourself, you will never be an important deciding factor at the board.

Anonymous said...

Hanging out with Jerry McHale and glorifying Rene Oliveira will not get you to the Presidency of TSC. When you stop doing that then you will be President

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Anyone who has been around TSC and UTB surely understands that the Anglo will not be selected...REGARDLESS or his credentials. This community is just as bigoted against Anglos as Hispanics claim to be true against them. Tony Zavaletta is surely the leader of the anti-Anglo vote. Education in the RGV has serious problems at all levels....focusing on "assimilation" and not "education". Here we go again with a proud anti-Anglo vote.

Anonymous said...

Too many people are not seeing the woods for the trees. Forget race for a moment; remember that familiarity cuts both ways.

Anonymous said...

Politics, politics, politics. Typical for Brownsville. Lots of luck, TSC.