By Viviana Sanchez & Justice Santa Cruz Skyline Student Life and Politics Correspondents
ALPINE- Sul Ross State University opened doors for President Pete Gallego; now he wants to do the same for the current and future students of Sul Ross.
In a recent interview Feb. 2 with the Skyline, Gallego shared his plans for the future of Sul Ross and reflected on his experiences as a student. Gallego left Sul Ross State University as a graduate in 1982 and returned to his Alma mater this year after serving in the Texas Legislature and the US House of Representatives.
Sul Ross’ relatively small enrollment – slightly less than 2,000 – and intimate campus give students a unique advantage over larger schools in the quality of access to professors and other students.
“The relationships you form here are deeper and can be quality relationships because you have quality time together,” Gallego said.
A native of Alpine and an attorney, Gallego said he was motivated to come home out of concern for the future of Sul Ross. Gallego said he was tired of hearing about the decisions being made for Sul Ross and seeing little benefit for faculty and students.
“I left here with essentially a list of things to make Sul Ross better and some of them have been done like the gym,” said Gallego, referring to the Gallego Center and gymnasium he funded. But “I wouldn’t have done things the way they were being done, and I was tired of saying that.So, I came back to Alpine and applied for the job.”
His post-graduation list was part of the reason Gallego applied for the position of Sul Ross President.
At the top of his list is forging a stronger connection between the university and the Alpine community, for example improving the Skyline student newspaper so it becomes a trusted source of fair and balanced content relevant to the town and the school.
“I want there to be a better relationship between the university and the community,” he said.
President Gallego has already initiated some of his ideas for the campus, starting with reducing the university’s carbon footprint by planting vegetation that is native to the area, a somewhat controversial measure that has stirred community ire due to the potential loss of trees under the new landscaping plan.
Additionally, his vision for the school includes installing industrial grade outlets around the mall so student organizations can sell food and decorate during the holidays, and improved access for the disabled, construction for which has already begun in front of the Morelock Academic Building and the Bryan Wildenthal Memorial Library.
Gallego said those moves are in line with his long term strategy, which primarily focuses on creating a better experience for every Sul Ross student while enhancing and improving the quality of education , and elevating the value of every student.
Photograph of President Gallego by Justice Santa Cruz