Chester ‘Chet’ Lewis named vice chancellor for fiscal affairs
01.08.2016 | By Amanda Fenwick
PASADENA, Texas – Mr. Chester “Chet” Lewis has been named the new vice chancellor for fiscal affairs at San Jacinto College. He will officially begin his duties in this role on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016.
“The search process included a national position announcement to all financial leaders and second level leaders in higher education, sourcing from local contacts, engaging an executive search firm, and marketing the position in numerous publications and websites,” said Dr. Brenda Hellyer, San Jacinto College Chancellor. “I am pleased that the selection committee was unanimous in recommending Chet Lewis, as he brings with him 17 years of senior leadership experience to San Jacinto College. He will be a great asset to the College, and I look forward to working with him.”
At San Jacinto College, Mr. Lewis will be a member of the Strategic Leadership Team, providing leadership and administrative oversight to the business services of the College including financial accounting and reporting, budgeting, purchasing, auxiliary services, grants management, internal audit, facilities maintenance and construction, risk management, safety, crisis management, business continuity, elections, and police services.
“San Jacinto College has a great reputation as a leader in establishing educational partnerships, providing opportunities to students, and developing relevant career pathways,” said Mr. Lewis. “The chance to join such a great team at the College in a position of service was an exciting prospect.”
Mr. Lewis comes to San Jacinto College most recently from Texas Southmost College (formerly part of the University of Texas at Brownsville), where he served as the associate vice president of business affairs while part of UT-Brownsville, and vice president of finance and administration once the two entities separated. During his tenure with UT-Brownsville, Mr. Lewis was responsible for the budget office, business office, purchasing, Fort Brown Memorial Center, recordkeeping, and central receiving. At Texas Southmost College, Lewis had oversight of budget, business services, taxes, investments, facilities, campus maintenance, capital projects, deferred maintenance, auxiliary enterprises, security, inventory, purchasing, bursar functions, facility rentals, contract review, intergovernmental agency agreements, and elections.
Mr. Lewis was the first executive hired for Texas Southmost College, and as such provided leadership for the institution until a president could be hired. During this time his team negotiated a successful settlement agreement in excess of $45 million which included the sale of land and buildings, exchange of buildings, defeasance of revenue bonds, agreements for thermal plants and easements, shared library services and recreation services, and personal property. In addition, Mr. Lewis successfully negotiated leases with the University of Texas System, which included building and facility use, shared services, utility agreements, security, and parking agreements. Under the financial leadership of Mr. Lewis, Texas Southmost College opened its doors as an independent institution in Fall 2013, while managing to increase the unreserved fund balance as of August 2013 to $15.5 million and $40.6 million in August 2014.
Mr. Lewis attributes the success of Texas Southmost College to significant innovations, including the establishment of Texas Southmost College as an all-digital institution. Through the RFP process, Pearson was selected as a partner to develop the content, which was available to students when courses began in Fall 2013. Texas Southmost College was the first public institution of higher education to fully implement an all-digital format in the United States.
“When Texas Southmost College was established, a newly formed mission statement focused on creating innovative learning opportunities for students,” added Mr. Lewis. “Providing an educational experience utilizing digital learning materials allows students to effectively learn, develop important skills, and prepare for future success in an affordable manner.”
Mr. Lewis also has experience in municipality financial leadership when he served as the CFO of the City of New Braunfels. He also has energy and other industry experience. His journey in education began by taking courses at a community college. “I know how my life has been transformed through education, and I will always have a special place in my heart for the community college mission,” he added.
He holds a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from Arizona State University and a Master of Accountancy from University of Texas-Pan American. “I feel that I am joining the College at such an exciting time and I am looking forward to serving the students, faculty, staff, and Trustees of our community,” Mr. Lewis concluded.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.