By Dr. Ric Baser
President, Northwest Vista College
Dear Vista Family,
I am writing to inform you of my decision to retire as your President, effective June 1, 2022. I have loved Northwest Vista College more than any other institution for which I have worked, and I have loved being your president more than any other job I have ever held. Being a part of this extraordinary and award-winning College and Alamo Colleges District is a rare privilege. Northwest Vista College challenges you every day, and it rewards the effort it takes to meet those challenges.
But after forty-one years in higher education, the time is approaching when I need to seek new challenges, strike out in new directions, and, yes, slow down enough to just enjoy life. When I came to Vista in 2014, I expressed the view that the ideal tenure for my presidency would be about ten years. While I still hold that view, some lingering health concerns will cause me to retire early. I have learned much of what Vista has to teach me, we have accomplished most of what we hoped to accomplish, and I will leave the college in superbly competent hands to continue its mission to provide opportunities for success.
The greatest blessing of this job is the extraordinary group of people with whom I have had the privilege to associate and collaborate: the college’s phenomenal Senior Leadership Team and Cabinet Leader’s Council, talented and devoted faculty and staff, engaged students, loyal supporters, my District Senior Leadership Team colleagues and the unwavering support from our Chancellor and Board of Trustees. Working together, we have made remarkable progress over the past eight years, while honoring Vista’s history and preserving its culture. We have substantially increased student retention and graduation rates; the ethnic and racial diversity of our student body; and the level of support for student academic success, health, and wellness. We have enriched the academic program with additional faculty staffing, and enhanced grant-funded support for faculty and student research and student success initiatives.
When I first visited the College as a finalist for the Presidency of NVC, I was struck by the beauty of the campus and the commitment of its faculty and staff. This College, hidden by the trees, was described as a “best kept secret.” I stated that the secret of Vista would no longer be kept secret. Over the next few years NVC did begin receiving the recognition it had long deserved with top rankings at the state and national levels by NICHE, Best Colleges, Stacker, Most Promising Places to Work and many others. NVC’s contributions were integral in the winning of the Baldrige Award by the Alamo Colleges District.
After growing from twelve students in 1995 to well over 18,000 students, the College footprint also grew following a successful bond campaign. A new Welcome Center (Desert Willow Welcome Center) and a second multilevel parking garage was completed prior to the fall 2021 term and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Center will be completed in late spring 2022. Two additional buildings are nearing the construction stage including the Cypress Cultural Center and the Veterans Center.
These projects and achievements are works in progress, started prior to my arrival and will continue long after my departure. This is all part of the ongoing, unending process of discovery, scholarship, and continuous improvement that is Vista’s nature (Fueled by a competitive and compassionate spirit). I look forward to continuing to work on these and other projects during the coming months, and then passing the baton to a successor who will lead the college in the next chapter in its mission to provide opportunities for success. While I will miss the daily challenges and the numerous friendships I have made during my tenure, it is my intent to remain an active supporter of Northwest Vista College and the Alamo Colleges.