TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) - A big change lies ahead for Pima Community College as its leader announces he's stepping down.
Roy Flores has been at the college since 2003.
Now he says health problems are forcing him to reconsider his job as PCC chancellor, overseeing a college that enrolled nearly 70-thousand students last year and boasts six campuses.
For a report seen only on KOLD News 13, we sat down and talked with him, and got some surprising answers in the most personal interview we've ever done with Dr. Flores.
He shows us a picture of himself at about one year of age, with one of his grandmothers in Laredo, Texas, where he was born.
The child who would become Dr. Roy Flores, Pima Community College Chancellor, spoke only Spanish until the age of six.
Before he led one of the largest community colleges in the country he was a shoe shine boy, there was migrant work, a pipefitter job in a steel mill, a stint in the Air Force.
"I would've been perfectly happy to be a pipefitter. I know I would've been."
Instead Roy Flores got a Ph.D. in economics.
"I'm glad I've always been a student. That's the truth of it," he says.
Flores had heart bypass surgery recently, and decided he could not do what the job requires any more. Plus, he got a wake up call, of sorts.
"It did hit me when I saw it in print, that I'm approaching 70. I think, what am I doing?"
Flores oversaw one of the biggest changes in the history of Pima College.
PCC now has admissions standards, ending open enrollment for anyone who applied.
The change a controversy that Flores calls a firestorm.
He didn't expect it.
"It's a different kind of world, different kind of student. We can't be a one-trick pony. We've got to figure out different ways of helping folks. And the reality is when people are so ill-prepared that they're approximately at 4th or 5th level, it's really the height of conceit for us to think that, oh yeah. Come on in. We're going to take you to level 13 very quickly in the college setting," Flores says.
Flores says unprepared students is a community issue.
He says it's not only a kindergarten through 12th grade, and university and community college issue.
He says the community should insist that everything be done to ensure that students get the tools they need to reach their potential.
Flores also presided over the college during unprecedented state budget cuts.
He says his priority was making tough decisions, such as cutting popular programs, to make the best use of resources while preserving as many jobs as possible.
He says, in the back of his mind was the thought of his childhood in Indiana and watching his own family suffer layoffs.
He says, "For me, having people lose their jobs--that's horrific." @
"When you're a kid and the other children have regular lunches and you don't, that has an effect," Flores says.
As PCC prepares to go on without him, Flores says it's inappropriate for him to talk about what a future chancellor might be like.
Asked about his legacy, Flores says the best kindness people can do for him is to not have a Flores legacy.
"By that I mean let's not memorialize the so-called good things. Let's examine these things anew every day and let's find better ways of doing what we're doing. I would expect change," Flores says.
The college says it will be up to the Board of Governors to decide how the search for a new chancellor will be conducted, and when it will begin.
Copyright 2012 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.
2010 Enrollment: 68,051 Includes those students enrolled in the Center for Training and Development, Adult Basic Education, or Continuing Education Courses. 56% Women Avg. Age: 27 66% are part-time
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