Update: This story has been updated with comment from Commissioner Raymund Paredes.
After 15 years on the job, Texas' commissioner for higher education, Raymund Paredes, announced Thursday that he will leave his post effective Aug. 31.
He made the announcement at the start of a quarterly meeting of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, an agency he heads that oversees the state’s strategic plan for higher education, administers financial aid programs, and acts as a repository of colleges’ and universities’ data.
“I'm resigning, I'm stepping down, I'm not retiring, I hope to remain active in higher education” in the state, Paredes said. His departure at the end of August will allow him to “make it through the session and do some of the follow-up work that we always have to do.
"I think it's time for new blood, I think it's time for new perspectives and I've enjoyed this position enormously," Paredes said.
He described his reason for departure as a "feeling it's time to go," saying he told a colleague, "You know it's getting close to the end when you talk to members of the Legislature and they all know the punch lines to your jokes." He said he also had a daughter and grandchildren he hoped to devote more time to.
Paredes has served as commissioner since 2004. Prior to that, he was a professor and administrator in the University of California system and worked at the Rockefeller Foundation and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.
Paredes reflected on his tenure as commissioner in an interview with the Tribune shortly after he announced his decision to step down.
In the last 15 years, the state has "made some significant progress in achieving a balance between access and success; when I first arrived, I thought that there was a greater emphasis on access," Paredes said. He cited strides made in the delivery of developmental education, pointed to the elevation of several universities to Carnegie Tier One status, and noted improvements in cooperation between community colleges and universities, as well as the higher education and K-12 sectors.
"I'm not saying we're where we need to be, but we've taken some significant steps forward," he said. A release from the agency says the coordinating board, under Paredes, "reinvented developmental education across the state,” introduced outcomes-based funding at the state’s community and technical colleges, and launched an affordable baccalaureate program at more than 10 institutions.
Looking ahead, Paredes said he thought the state was "slicing the pie too thinly" in its funding. With swelling student enrollment numbers and the addition of publicly funded academic programs, "we need to do everything we can to stretch state dollars further," he said.
Stuart Stedman, the chairman of the coordinating board, will lead the search for a new commissioner. He said in a statement that Paredes had been a “driving force” and the “chief motivator” driving progress toward the state’s previous and current strategic plans for higher education.
Disclosure: Raymund Paredes and Stuart Stedman have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.