By NORA THOMPSON
If elected, Luis Gonzalez will be taking the seat of Luis Gonzalez, who will be retiring this year.
No, that’s not a mistake: Both men share the same names.
In fact, the two are even friends. Gonzalez said that he was urged to run by the other Luis Gonzalez.
“Luis Gonzalez is a friend of mine, and we were talking and he said he would be retiring soon, so it became an opportunity that was available to me,” Gonzalez said.
The other Gonzalez, the one currently on the board, gave a quote about his friend,
“I support Luis Gonzalez because he is eminently qualified and well prepared to serve on the Pima College Board of Governors,” he said. “He has dedicated his entire career to the education of young people. Luis is a person of integrity, has a high moral compass and cares deeply about students, faculty and employees.
“He is analytical, does not make knee-jerk decisions and is his own person.”
Gonzalez got his start at Pima with the Pasqual Yaci Scholarship Department.
“I worked for the scholarship department for almost five years,” said Gonzalez, who is a full member of the Pasqual Yaqui tribe in Tucson. “In fact, it was only a half-time position, and I came out with six full-time employees.”
Gonzalez was elected Tribal Leader and was the oversight chair to education for the Pascua Yaqui tribe. Although he has lots of experience in working with the American Indian students at Pima, he doesn’t want to do anything extra for them while sitting on the Board of Governors.
“We need to look at all students, not specifically Native American populations, because Pima is making affordable and also accessible education for all,” he said. “I’m a firm believer in education and so we need to continue doing that.”
The Pasqual Yaqui tribe isn’t his only tie to Pima, though.
“I am running because I have a great interest in the community in reference to what happens in community college,” Gonzalez said.
It is also because he has five children and 25 grandchildren, one of which, his granddaughter, is attending Pima.
Gonzalez wants to change Pima’s declining enrollment numbers and cites it as his most important issue.
“The decline of students has been in a path in the last several years, and I think that’s one issue that needs to be addressed,” he said.
Gonzalez, however, is not sure exactly how he’d go about it.
“The plan is once I get there, it’s not really up to me, it’s up to the administration,” he said. “We have to find out what are the current plans but also what’s new… I’ve seen what I’ve seen in print. In reference to the pillars of excellence.”
The Pillars of Excellence are Pima’s master plans for the next couple of years as far as goals and achievements go, and they outline the plan for getting enrollment numbers up.
“As with anything else, there’s always room for improvement, but for me to definitely say what’s what’s there, I do not have the insights on that,” he said.
This is the most important part of Gonzalez’s platform. When it comes to the budget, he brought up the declining enrollment numbers again.
“There’s a certain amount that can be revenued getting money from the state, but more important is getting revenue from the students as well,” Gonzalez said.
Of course, tuition continues to rise, which impacts everybody.
“It’s a choice we have to make,” he said. “I have no insights in reference to what exactly is the budget. I think even a dollar does impact a lot of the students out there.
“It doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up.”