After nearly 30 years on the job, South Texas College president announces her retirement

1 year 8 months 3 weeks ago Wednesday, November 18 2020 Nov 18, 2020 November 18, 2020 8:12 PM November 18, 2020 in News - Local

South Texas College President Shirley A. Reed, who transformed a tiny community college into an educational institution that serves 28,000 students, announced her retirement Tuesday.

Reed announced her retirement during a board meeting on Tuesday afternoon, when trustees met to discuss her contract. Her last day is Jan. 4.

Board Chairman Paul R. Rodriguez and Vice Chairwoman Rose Benavides will spearhead the search for her replacement.

“Shirley is STC,” said Weslaco City Manager Mike Perez, who served on the committee that hired Reed shortly after the college was created in 1993.

Her sheer will and determination helped transform the fledgling college into an educational institution.

“It’s grown phenomenally,” Perez said. “It’s grown far bigger than I thought it was ever going to be.”

Reed took risks, including asking Hidalgo County and Starr County taxpayers to support a $20 million bond package in 1995. Many people, wary of higher taxes and new debt, opposed the proposal.

“Every place that would listen to her, there she was,” Perez said.

Voters approved the bond — and another in 2001, according to the college website.

“She’s real soft on the outside for about an inch and then you hit steel,” Perez said. “She’s one smart lady.”

Under her leadership, the college partnered with high schools on dual-enrollment classes, began offering bachelor’s degrees and helped thousands train for better-paying jobs.

“She never ceased to amaze me with her knowledge of what was going on in the different departments, her vision for what she wanted to do for the students, for the college,” said former college Trustee Graciela Farias, who served on the board from 2012 to 2018. “I was always saying: ‘Wow.’”

Reed also recruited talented administrators, Farias said, and created an environment that allowed other people to succeed.

“She made STC what it is today,” Farias said. “STC has an awesome reputation as an institution of higher learning. And it’s through her efforts. What she has done.”

Reed couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. She may send a statement to faculty and staff on Thursday.

Her page on the college website, though, shares thoughts about the institution Reed shaped for nearly three decades.

“Sometimes I feel like a proud parent when talking about South Texas College, but it’s hard not to brag when you are the president of the largest, fastest growing college south of San Antonio,” Reed wrote. “STC’s growth in every respect has been truly phenomenal since our founding in 1993 and there is so much to be proud of.”

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