College rallies as new president takes lead

Dr. Justin Hoggard

BEEVILLE – Friday’s meeting, Nov. 1, of college trustees was more jovial than many of the past as they named their next college president.

By unanimous decision, Coastal Bend College named Dr. Justin Hoggard as the next leader — a decision met with smiles from the audience of faculty and staff.

Only minutes prior to this decision, trustees went into executive session, leaving Hoggard alone in the meeting room with the dozens waiting.

“Don’t feel pressure to laugh,” he said as he told of himself and cracked a few jokes. 

This light-hearted feeling, a long-missing atmosphere that began to return only in the past months, permeated the room.

“I would like to ask Dr. Justin Hoggard to come forward and take his place up here,” said Board Chairman Carroll Lohse.

“On behalf of the board of trustees, we went through a long and extensive process of finding a college president. 

“We are very pleased to have Dr. Justin Hoggard as our college president.”

Hoggard, in brief words before the meeting closed, said, “We’re going to focus on communication, cooperation, collaboration, community and stability. We’re going to move forward in a very positive way, and I’m excited to be part of it.”

A few minutes later, Hoggard would be greeted by a room of employees and students eager to meet the man tasked with continuing the work started by interim president Dr. Carry DeAtley.

“It was very gratifying to walk in here and see this place full,” Lohse said now standing inside the college’s student union building. 

He offered his appreciation to the faculty and staff who took on extra duties as the college interviewed candidates for the president’s position.

“We kept going just fine,” he said. “We anticipate getting better in the future.

“But I do want to thank you all for stepping up and for going the extra mile for both the college and for the students here.”

Trustee Martha Warner said that she could tell the mood of the college has changed during these past months under the stewardship of DeAtley.

“I didn’t realize how hard it was until after everybody was gone,” she said, alluding to the lack of contract renewals for some employees and loss of the former college president.

The atmosphere, she said, “was not as happy as we were told it was.”

“I apologize for not knowing that. Y’all are welcome to pick up your phone and call me.”

But talk of the past was minimal as the speakers focused on the future of this institution.

“Everything we’re going to do is based on cooperation, collaboration, open communication, focus on the community in the knowledge that we maintain a modicum of civility,” Hoggard repeated.

Beyond that, he stressed that he wanted to return the positive feelings once held by faculty there.

“It’s very important that we act like we are a family.

“There are great things happening here. And I have met wonderful people both here at the college and in the community.”

Staff, faculty and students turned out to offer their support for the new president.

“I’m very excited to see what changes might happen because even though you might not know what all goes behind the scenes, it is not that we don’t appreciate it,” said student representative Sarah Gamboa.

Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5221, or at media@mySouTex.com.