Dr. Robert H. Vela Jr. began serving as the 22nd president of Texas A&M University-Kingsville on June 15, 2022. His career has been dedicated to promoting access and opportunity to higher education across the state.
Dr. Vela previously served as President of San Antonio College—one of the largest community colleges in the nation— from 2014-June 2022. Under his collaborative leadership, Dr. Vela developed a strategic plan that advanced the Alamo Community College District goal of transforming San Antonio College into the best community college in the nation.
In 2021, the college earned the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence–the nation’s premier recognition of achievement and performance among America’s community colleges. Dr. Vela launched his career in higher education at Texas A&M University-Kingsville in 1997 and served in various roles at the university, including as Upward Bound Program Coordinator and Director of the Teacher Development Center.
In 2021, Dr. Vela joined the Board of Directors of Excelencia in Education, an organization that accelerates Latino student success in higher education to address the U.S. economy’s need for a highly educated workforce and civic leadership.
A nationally-recognized leader in higher education, Dr. Vela has also served as the President of the National Community College Hispanic Council and on the American Association of Community Colleges Board of Directors. In 2018, he was an integral part of a team that received the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
He has taught courses in higher education administration and leadership, educational leadership and counseling throughout his 20 plus years in higher education.
A native of Alice, TX, Dr. Vela earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M-Kingsville. In 2015, he received the Javelina Distinguished Alumni Award.