He’s only the fifth president the college has had since its inception in 1946.
And, under Dr. Richard Sanchez, Navarro College has experienced record growth and expansion, paving the way for future generations to learn and improve their lives.
Sanchez, 72, is stepping down as district president on Aug. 31. The Daily Sun visited with Sanchez this week to learn his thoughts as he approaches retirement.
Daily Sun: Why retirement now?
Sanchez: I’m 72 years of age. I’ve had 15 wonderful years at this institution, and I’ve had wonderful trustees. I’ve had an absolutely incredible experience. It’s been a highlight of my career. But there comes a time when you have to ask yourself ‘is it time to retire, is it time to leave?’ There are several things Angie and I want to do. At 72, I feel blessed to be healthy and I believe it’s time now to do the things we’d like to do that we’ve not been able to do. ... We’re looking forward to travel and spending more time with family and with Angie.
Daily Sun: Do you remember the campus you came to in 1998?
Sanchez: I remember this campus vividly. The two worst images to me were the Quonset huts that we removed, and that vacant lot that existed next to the Special Events Center and the Gooch Library. When I saw it for the first time, I could ‘see’ the library, and the dining hall, and the clock tower in that space. That’s why I began to develop that as a vision, and look what we have now.
Daily Sun: When you started the college had a presence in Ellis County and Mexia. That has dramatically expanded during your years.
Sanchez: When I came in 1998, the district had just completed building the first wing in Mexia. Shortly after they constructed that there was need for a second wing. ... In Waxahachie, all we had was a ‘cabinet shop’ — it didn’t look like a college campus at all. ... we had a new front designed for it, did some remodeling inside to give ourselves some more room, and then of course came Midlothian. What spawned the idea in Midlothian was a trip I took and observed the tremendous progress there. ... I came back and discussed what I saw with trustees and said we needed to have a presence there. Fortunately, the trustees supported that and we built the campus in Midlothian. ... Now, the Mexia campus has also exceed the capacity so we’re in the process of building an administrative building ... and convert the existing administrative area to classrooms.