Feb. 9, 2023 (La Junta, CO) – Today, Dr. Timothy Alvarez announced plans to retire from Otero College on August 11, capping off a five-year tenure as president and a 33-year career in higher education. Otero College is a residential college located in La Junta, Colorado, and a federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI).
“As students, faculty, and staff will tell you, Otero College is a special place with a tight-knit and welcoming community,” President Alvarez said. “It has been an honor and privilege to serve as its president, and my decision was not an easy one. I want to thank the town of La Junta and the entire Arkansas Valley for your partnership over the last five years. While I will miss Otero dearly, I know the best is yet to come for this wonderful institution.”
It has been an honor and privilege to serve as its president, and my decision was not an easy one. I want to thank the town of La Junta and the entire Arkansas Valley for your partnership over the last five years.” – President Alvarez
Joe Garcia, chancellor of the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), commended President Alvarez’s dedication to the Otero community and praised the college’s new five-year strategic plan cocreated with campus departments, the Otero Foundation, advisory councils, and alumni and students.
“From the moment we hired him, President Alvarez demonstrated an unwavering commitment to community engagement and student success,” Chancellor Garcia said. “Over his tenure, he not only launched new and innovative programs but also led an impressive strategic planning process that will leave Otero College in a better position than he found it. As a first-generation, non-traditional student himself, Dr. Alvarez has been a tremendous champion of our open access mission. His positive leadership will be greatly missed.”
President Alvarez joined Otero in July 2018 and quickly prioritized closing equity gaps among the college’s 1,500 students, 66% of whom are first-generation. Through the college’s Student Equity and Achievement program, Otero successfully redesigned classrooms, curriculum, and teaching practices to make learning more inviting and inclusive. President Alvarez also helped expand eligibility for institutional financial aid and founded new scholarships for both students and staff.
Leveraging his background in student affairs, President Alvarez brought much-needed wraparound supports to Otero. To improve completion rates, he secured a $2.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand mentoring, advising, case management, and professional development for students, especially those of low-income and Hispanic backgrounds. Responding to growing needs, he hired Otero’s first on-campus mental health counselor who provides one-on-one and group services for students.
“I could not be prouder of this HSI and this community of learners,” President Alvarez said. “Otero students, faculty, and staff have made me better, and in return, I hope I challenged them to think differently, approach problems in new ways, and maintain a positive attitude.”
Before arriving to Otero, President Alvarez served as the Senior Fellow for NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) and as Vice President for Student Affairs at North Dakota State University. Prior to this role, Dr. Alvarez spent 15 years in various leadership and teaching roles at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he also received his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership.
CCCS will announce details about the search for Otero College’s next president, including how community members can participate, in the coming weeks.
About Otero College
Founded in 1941, Otero College is located on a 40-acre campus on the southern edge of La Junta, Colorado. Otero is an accredited Hispanic Serving Institution and provides cutting edge education that offers various two-year degrees, transfer degrees in preparation for four-year bachelor degree programs, and workforce ready certificates.
The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) is the state’s largest system of higher education, delivering more than 1,000 programs to over 115,000 students annually through 13 colleges and 35 locations across Colorado. Our open access mission ensures all Coloradans who aspire to enrich their lives have access to quality higher education opportunities. The System Office provides leadership, advocacy, and support to the colleges under the direction of the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education (SBCCOE). Join us in changing the way Colorado goes to college. Learn more at www.cccs.edu