Baldrige Award Puts Alamo Colleges in Elite Group

What is one thing that the maker of Jaguar Land Rover, Detroit’s Henry Ford Health System, and billion-dollar company Cargill Inc. all have in common? These powerhouses are the recipients of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Now, Alamo Colleges District has been added to this esteemed list.

Alamo Colleges Chancellor Dr. Mike Flores recently said at Northwest Vista College that wining the Baldrige award has been compared to winning a Tony, Oscar, or even the World Series.

The significance of the Baldrige award is historic for the Alamo Colleges District. Typically the Baldrige award, which is granted by the federal government, is only given to single entities. This is the first time a multi-campus college system won the award. Earning a “Baldrige” is something that many local and national Fortune 500 companies have on their wish list. For Alamo Colleges, getting to this point didn’t happen overnight – it was a 10-year journey.

Alamo Colleges celebrated this milestone with NVC faculty and staff on April 12. Praise, speeches, high-fives and selfies were taken at the celebration. Within that 10-year journey, NVC has traveled the Baldrige road a few times. In 2012, it received a site visit from Baldrige and was nationally recognized in two Baldrige categories: for Leadership and Customer (Student) Focus. That year, NVC was the only educational institution in the country to receive a Baldrige site visit. Even though NVC didn’t win the top award, each year the college has improved processes which contributed to the Alamo Colleges District winning the award.

Northwest Vista College President Dr. Ric Baser said NVC was a huge part why Alamo Colleges received the recognition. He and other Alamo Colleges leaders recently participated in The Quest for Excellence Conference in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. A variety of organizations attend the conference to learn best practices from current and former Baldrige Award recipients.

In the U.S., more than 35 state and regional programs that support local businesses, hospitals, and schools base themselves on Baldrige, according to the Baldrige website. And more than 100 international programs use the Baldrige criteria in their entirety or adapted as standards to measure organizational excellence.

Organizations on the Baldrige journey see the direct impact. A Baldrige report said in the city of Detroit, “The Baldrige quality standards, helped Henry Ford Health System save about $10 million between 2008 and 2011 through its ‘No Harm Campaign,’ which reduced harmful patient events by more than 30%, preventable infections by 45%, and cut the average length of stay by nearly two days.”

Alamo Colleges Board of Trustee Joe Alderete Jr. said now that Alamo Colleges has won the top award, the challenge still exists to attract students from the West and South sides of San Antonio.

“We received the highest award you can get in the nation,” Alderete said at the April 12 event. “From the person cleaning the meeting rooms to our campus police, it takes team work to make this happen. When I see students speak at our board meetings, they are internally happy. You have no idea the impact you can have on students. The toughest part is staying No. 1. Don’t stop. Don’t quit!”



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