New SPC technical education dean recounts career path

LEVELLAND – For Albert Garcia, becoming the new dean of South Plains College’s technical education division was the obvious next step in his career.

Garcia, former chief of the Levelland Police Department, was to begin his new position as dean at the beginning of June but continued his service as chief until the city completed most of its recovery efforts following a severe natural disaster in late May. He started his new position at SPC on June 17.

When the technical education dean position became available, Garcia said multiple factors prompted him to consider the job. His close connections at SPC, including former Technical Education Dean Rob Blair, encouraged him to apply.

“It made sense to come back and complete my story,” Garcia said. “It started at South Plains College, and I’m hoping that when it comes time for me to completely retire, it’s ending here at South Plains College.”

Garcia graduated from SPC with an associate degree in law enforcement technology in 1992. He later worked as a police officer on the SPC Levelland campus for a few years before becoming an officer at the Levelland Police Department.

In addition to his 32-year career as a police officer, which includes his service as chief of police at the Idalou, Littlefield and Levelland police departments, Garcia served as an educator.

Around 1996, George Lawless, former coordinator of the SPC Law Enforcement Program, asked Garcia if he would be interested in teaching a few classes. After working as an instructor at SPC for a few years, Garcia received his instructional certification through the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement in 1998 to teach any continuing education course in the state.

“I was more career-driven during that time,” Garcia said. “In early 2000, I thought I needed to focus more on my education, so I went to Wayland Baptist University (WBU) and graduated with my bachelor’s degree in 2003.”

While serving as an officer in Levelland, Garcia was injured in the line of duty, so he took a brief break from the department. He worked at a computer company for a few years starting in 2004 and returned to police work as chief of the Idalou Police Department in 2006.

Garcia later continued his education at WBU as a part-time master’s student. He finished his graduate program in 2009 and walked at the commencement ceremony a year later. He then became an adjunct professor at WBU’s Lubbock campus, where he worked until 2016.

Albert Garcia

“When I came back to Levelland in 2017 as chief of police, it made sense that being an adjunct professor at SPC would be a part of my path as well,” he said.

Garcia was an adjunct professor in SPC’s Law Enforcement Program for the past few years. Nearing his retirement from the Levelland Police Department, he said multiple family members and close connections at SPC told him to consider the dean position.

“I have so much respect for Dean Blair, and he has done so much for the institution. Those are some big shoes to fill,” he said. “I was so honored and humbled by his consideration for me to take this position.”

As someone who prioritizes his faith, Garcia said he was blessed to have been selected for the position and hopes to make Blair proud.

“What an opportunity to give back to the institution that has given me so much,” he said. “South Plains College has always been a part of my life for some reason or another.”

Whether it be the close connections with the people on campus or the teaching opportunities he has received, Garcia said there is always a force drawing him back to SPC.

Upon starting his position, Garcia said he got the opportunity to learn about all the programs in the technical education division and was able to visit the SPC campuses in Lubbock. The growth of SPC over the years is one aspect that excites him the most.

“It made me proud to be a part of this institution,” he said regarding how much SPC has expanded. “It made me proud to know that I graduated from here and get to be a part of this now.”