South Texas College’s leader for over a quarter of a century is hanging up her spurs.
Reed’s retirement became official at a special meeting of the STC Board of Trustees Tuesday, marking the end of an era for the institution.
Reed is the college’s founding president and has been at its helm since its creation in 1993.
A spokesperson for the college said Wednesday that Reed was refraining from commenting on her departure until making an internal announcement, expected to be released later this week.
STC, first known as South Texas Community College, started in a small makeshift campus in McAllen with a cohort of roughly 1,000 students, blossoming into the multi-campus institution with an enrollment of just under 30,000 that it is today under Reed’s leadership.
“I remember when Shirley was hired there and I was with her for probably about eight years after she first started. It’s pretty interesting. She’s done a great job,” McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said Wednesday. “That college has been a game changer. It went beyond, I think, everybody’s expectations and an awful, awful lot of that had to do with Shirley Reed. So yeah, she did a fantastic job for all the Valley, especially Hidalgo County.”
In a 2018 interview with The Monitor, Reed remembered being met with sniggers when she proposed growing enrollment at the fledgling institution to 10,000 within a decade after joining the college. STC and its president are no longer a laughing matter.
“She has built the team that has built STC, and it’s going to take some very, very big shoes to fill her position,” McAllen Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Keith Patridge said Wednesday. “I would say that she has been one of the most important drivers in the community as far as growth and development in the community since STC’s been here.”
Partridge said he met Reed during the selection process for the college’s president in the ‘90s.
“I challenged her. I said, Look, I don’t care how many graduates you graduate. Every graduate has to be the very best highest quality graduate you can produce,” he remembered. “And she lived up to it, she has really been an out of the box thinker, she has recognized that there is nothing that the residents of the Valley cannot do. They can do anything and they just needed someone to believe in them and to provide them with the opportunity, and that’s what she was really focused on.”
Although Patridge said he was shocked by the news, he also said Reed certainly deserves to rest on her laurels.
‘Needless to say, she’s earned it,” he said.