1. Please provide a brief biography that explains your educational and professional background.
I am an attorney and I have held executive management roles with Texas Instruments Incorporated (20 years), Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (5 years) and the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute (2 years). I have a BA with Honors in Urban Studies from the University of Maryland – College Park; a Juris Doctorate from the University of Maryland School of Law, and a Masters of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs – University of Texas at Austin. More information is available at https://www.linkedin.com/in/pjritter.
During my time with Texas Instruments, which included service on the TI Foundation, I became deeply involved in education policy, with particular emphasis on early childhood education, STEM, and university advancement. This led to my service as chairman of the Alliance for Higher Education (which ran DFW’s first distance education network beginning in the 1960s), the Texas Education Reform Caucus, and my current role as Chairman of the Development Board of the University of Texas at Dallas. I was active for many years in the DCCCD Foundation, focusing on efforts to raise funds for Rising Star Scholarships. In 2004 I chaired the successful $450 million bond campaign for DCCCD.
2. What is the role of the elected Board of Trustees from your perspective? How does that role relate to your individual input as an elected trustee? How would you describe the efforts that will be necessary to be effective in your role – and what has prepared you to be successful in that role?
The Board’s role is to set policy and provide fiduciary oversight, review and approve annual budgets, and hire the Chancellor and hold him/her accountable for defined results.
Trustees come from a variety of backgrounds, and it is important that trustees listen to each other as well as bringing their own perspectives to the board table. No Trustee can act unilaterally on behalf of the district, so the collective ability of the board to forge consensus is vital to the success of the DCCCD.
I have been fortunate to participate on the board of directors and in executive staff roles with two successful public entities: Dallas Area Rapid Transit, and DFW International Airport respectively. These experiences prepare me to serve as a Trustee of DCCCD. I believe my strengths lie in the areas of articulating and advancing strategic goals, creating appropriate metrics and accountability, and being an effective advocate in the community and with state and federal government.
3. What is the role of the DCCCD in the educational marketplace in Dallas County? What is your agenda to continue to improve the quality and availability of educational programs to the citizens of Dallas County?
There are four primary roles for DCCCD in the educational marketplace: to serve as a high quality and cost effective option for lower division four-year degree candidates; to deliver training leading to two year degrees and certifications for technical, vocational and allied health professions; and to provide a reentry point for adults who seek to return to higher education for re-training or to seek a degree; and to serve as a contract training resource for employers.
As Trustee I will strive to improve the quality and availability of educational programs by allocating resources to student success initiatives, reducing administrative expenses, and facilitating constructive collaboration and resource development activities with businesses and individuals in the private sector.
4. If elected, how will you advocate for DCCCD students, employees, and colleges, in your dealings with business, the community, other public servants, and voters?
I will be a visible presence in the community on behalf of DCCCD, and I will advocate for the district with the substantial network of elected officials, opinion leaders, educators and business executives that I have established through my 30-year professional career in Dallas, the State of Texas, and nationally. I will participate and seek leadership roles in business, policy, and educational organizations that advance the mission of DCCCD. I will make myself accessible to my constituents and the stakeholders of the district, including students, professors, and staff members.
5. What do you see as the biggest assets, challenges, and opportunities, in the DCCCD? How will you strengthen those assets to meet the challenges and opportunities we face? What particular skills and connections do you bring that can benefit the Board as a whole, and by extension the DCCCD?
The biggest asset of the district is the quality of its vision and mission, and the scale by which it delivers high quality, affordable higher education to the community. The biggest challenge facing the district is balancing revenues and expenditures; and particularly assuring that tuition remains affordable while not overburdening taxpayers in an era of declining state revenue. The biggest opportunity for the district is to innovate new and creative models for designing and delivering education and training to meet the demands of the growing DFW economy. I intend to bring my business experience to the table in the budgeting process, and maximize return on the substantial revenues entrusted to DCCCD by taxpayers, students and their families. I will hone my advocacy skills on behalf of DCCCD, developed through my service on the DCCCD Foundation and as chair of the 2004 Bond Campaign, to drive results that advance the mission of the DCCCD. I will support the Chancellor and assure appropriate accountability by DCCCD administration. I have spent most of my adult life engaged in advocacy for business and education, and I know the audiences and control points that influence the success of DCCCD. I embrace the opportunity to serve as Trustee, and I respectfully ask for your vote.