By John Agather, 2019 San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Chairman
Whether as President/CEO of my investment company, guitarist of The Juantanamos, or as Chairman of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, I am committed to a culture of excellence. That is why I am so proud that the Alamo Colleges District has been affirmed with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award — the first community college district to receive this nation’s only presidential award for performance excellence.
Only five recipients from hundreds of organizations that applied received this distinction last November, and the Alamo Colleges District will celebrate this accomplishment in early April. The award, managed by an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, educates organizations in performance excellence management. That matters because our economy sorely needs an educated and skilled workforce and the Alamo Colleges’ record of strong achievement led to this much deserved recognition. Over the past 12 years, enrollment increased 21 percent and degrees and certificates earned rose 244 percent.
Their success is also the result of focus on areas, such as:
Commitment to Community: The Alamo Colleges District works closely with San Antonio and surrounding counties to implement education programs that promote a better life. This includes being partners of the Hispanic Chamber and our CORE4 STEM program that stimulates middle school-aged students’ interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and the arts, as well as being an advocate for our Raising & Inspiring Successful Entrepreneurs (R.I.S.E.) curriculum.
Distributed Leadership Model: It has created a model that balances alignment among its five colleges, allowing each college to serve the needs of its community to achieve student success.
Student Satisfaction: The Alamo Colleges District students have said satisfaction with the overall educational experience is 88.4 percent, more than 2 percent higher than the national norm.
Even with this award, the Alamo Colleges District hasn’t slowed down. Its new leader and one of my Board Advisors Chancellor Dr. Mike Flores, has outlined his vision for the district: partnering to end poverty through education, which perfectly supports the Hispanic Chamber’s goals for San Antonio.
Just this month, Palo Alto College, one of the five colleges in the Alamo Colleges District, received the Rising Star Award from the Aspen Institute that recognizes community college excellence. From a pool of 1,000 community colleges nationwide, Palo Alto College’s achievement highlights the value of community colleges in San Antonio and, ultimately, to our global economy.
A recent study found Alamo Colleges students who receive an associate degree earn an additional $7 for every dollar invested in their education. The district is a conduit to a better life for all San Antonians.
Dr. Flores’ exploration of removing obstacles towards this pursuit led to AlamoPROMISE. Through this initiative, the district is seeking funding in order to provide no-cost tuition for the first two years to Bexar County high-school graduates, for which the Hispanic Chamber has provided letters of support to the Alamo Colleges in order to secure funding.
While winning the Baldrige National Quality Award is cause for celebration, more important are the benefits of the journey. The Alamo Colleges District has also received valuable feedback from Baldrige to aid in continuing to improve processes. San Antonio benefits from organizations that remain critical of themselves and are constantly striving for better.
The Alamo Colleges District plans to share the lessons from the Baldrige journey through a series of workshops. I’d encourage leaders to take advantage of the opportunity to study these best practices and strive for the award themselves as a strategy to improve their organizations.
As Chair, I’ve committed to advancing the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s mission as the “leading resource, advocate, and access point for Hispanic businesses, Hispanics in business, and the Hispanic market.” With San Antonio’s population at more than 63 percent Hispanic, we see education as a crucial factor in furthering success for San Antonians. Let’s all congratulate the students, staff, faculty, and administration of the Alamo Colleges on their achievement and acknowledge how the district benefits us all.
– John Agather is president/CEO of investment firm AIC, guitarist of The Juantanamos, and 2019 Chairman of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Read the full article on the San Antonio Express News published on Monday, April 29, 2019:
About the Baldrige Program
The Baldrige Program is a public-private partnership that educates organizations in performance excellence management and administers the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The award was established by Congress in 1987 and is not given for specific products or services.
About Alamo Colleges
Alamo Colleges District is the largest provider of higher education in South Texas. Its five independent colleges (Northeast Lakeview College, Northwest Vista College, Palo Alto College, St. Philip’s College, and San Antonio College) provide two-year degrees and marketable skill award certificates.