Pete Gallego was recently confirmed as the new president of his alma mater, Sul Ross State University in Alpine. Gallego is an Alpine native, and has had a long political career that included over 20 years in the Texas House of Representatives and two terms in the U.S. House.
He told Texas Standard host David Brown on Thursday that the move is an opportunity for him to get away from the “yelling and the screaming and the pointing fingers” he said he experienced in politics.
“I just like to build and fix and make better, and this opportunity is exactly that – it is an opportunity to make sure that people have a chance to improve their lines through education,” Gallego said.
He’s taking over in the middle of a pandemic, when universities had to close their campuses to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But Sul Ross will open in the fall with modifications. Classes will be limited to 50% capacity, and in-person lectures and labs will take place only until the Thanksgiving break. After that, students will finish the semester remotely. Gallego said these changes will have lasting effects.
”I think this is a transformational period. And I think there will be a lot of changes along the way that COVID has, kind of, shown us that we can do things in a different manner,” he said.
The current protests of police brutality against black Americans, and systemic racism, are also going to change the campus experience. Gallego said when he attended Sul Ross, there was “apathy” among the student body. But today’s students are different, and he supports their activism.
“I expect to use my platform to encourage that – to encourage participation, to make sure that this is not only a center of leaning, but also an area that welcomes diversity of thought, diversity of opinion and encourages these conversations about how we can have a better society.”
Web story by Caroline Covington.