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Sul Ross President Pete Gallego cites family reasons in announcing his resignation

The Alpine native and former lawmaker informed officials with the university’s parent system last week that he would resign his post at Sul Ross State University in June 2022, at the end of the current academic year.

By Travis Bubenik

Pete Gallego, the outgoing president of Sul Ross State University, told officials with the university’s parent system last week that he would leave the job this coming summer to spend more time with his teenage son before he graduates high school.

The Texas State University System, which oversees Sul Ross, announced Gallego’s plan to resign on Friday, but didn’t explicitly state why the Alpine native and former Democratic Congressman and state representative had decided to leave.

In an initial statement, Gallego said he had reached the decision “after much reflection and discussion with my family and friends” and called the move “the right decision for me and for Sul Ross, the university I dearly love.”

Gallego’s office did not make him available for an interview and instead directed questions to the university system’s press office.

On Tuesday, the university system released Gallego’s eight-page resignation letter, which revealed more details about his stated reasons for stepping down.

In the letter, Gallego called his time as university president a “dream come true” and laid out a long list of what he described as his accomplishments since being appointed to the job just last year. But in closing the letter, he wrote of a recent personal experience that made him decide it was time to “move on.”

“This weekend, as I attended my son’s all-region choir concert (unaware that my son had even been selected to the all-region choir), I realized how much of his life I have missed,” Gallego wrote. “He is 17 years old, extremely gifted and now a junior in high school. I have but just over one year left to attempt to atone for that absence.”

The news of Gallego’s resignation comes a few months after an academic planning committee within Sul Ross recommended sweeping cuts to degree programs and faculty positions, as the Big Bend Sentinel previously reported.

Meanwhile, Sul Ross officials on Tuesday announced the hiring of a new university provost, Bernardo Joaquin Canteñs.

Canteñs, who was most recently an associate provost and philosophy department chair at Moravian University in Pennsylvania, will replace former Sul Ross Provost Robert Kinucan, who resigned from his position earlier this year.

“I am super excited about Dr Canteñs arrival and know that he will be a major force in achieving my goal of making Sul Ross one of the 100 best small colleges and universities in the country,” Gallego said in a statement on Canteñs’ hiring.

Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.