Hector Flores is stepping down as dean of Graduate Studies at Rochester Institute of Technology to become president of the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics. Flores’ last day at RIT is April 14, 2016.
“Dean Flores’ leadership brought tremendous advancement in graduate education at RIT, which raised the university’s visibility nationally and internationally,” said Jeremy Haefner, RIT provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “We thank him for his contributions. He will be missed.”
Haefner credited Flores, who joined RIT as dean in 2011, for developing a collaborative program that strengthened graduate studies, engaged students, provided professional development, embraced diversity and built international relationships, specifically a faculty and student exchange with two top ranked universities in Peru.
In 2012, Flores led development of a strategic plan for Graduate Education, co-chairing a campus wide task force in collaboration with Graduate Council. The plan was endorsed by the trustees in November 2013 and served as the foundation for the language related to graduate education that is now in the RIT strategic plan.
Flores also worked to ensure that student voices were heard. In collaboration with the Graduate Student Advisory Council, he promoted campus-wide discussion of issues relevant to the success and well-being of graduate students, from academic issues to housing, transportation, and inclusiveness in student government. He also led a collaborative effort to steward the funds for doctoral student stipends and tuition, creating a dedicated permanent budget for stipends, allowing for strategic reallocation according to program needs and focused on recruiting the highest quality doctoral students in a timely fashion.
On the academic side, he implemented Ph.D. dissertation and MFA thesis awards to recognize graduate student excellence, and created the Graduate Education Week in 2014, to celebrate the graduate experience, culminating in the annual Graduate Symposium, now approaching its 8th edition. And he has been committed to diversity, having developed a mentoring program for women and African American, Latino American and Native American faculty entitled P&T Smarts, as well as providing strategic advice and informal mentoring to several female and minority faculty.
Flores said deciding to leave RIT for the presidency of South Carolina Governor’s School “is a very personal decision for me. I was very blessed in my career because of the decision my dad made to enroll me in a wonderful bilingual catholic school. Sadly, that school is no longer. This decision is in part an homage to both my dad and my high school.”
“I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to graduate education excellence at RIT,” he added, “and it has been a pleasure working with – and learning from - many committed students and colleagues over these last four years.”
South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics is a state-funded boarding school for gifted high school juniors and seniors preparing for STEM careers. It has been ranked among the top national cohort of science schools due to its demanding curriculum based mostly on Advanced Placement and advanced undergraduate level courses, with a strong complement of liberal arts and a requirement for a summer research experience.
Haefner said an announcement would be made at a future date outlining plans to search for Flores’ successor.