Written by Juan Prado
Everyone at The University of Texas Pan-American must work together to make UTPA an “agent of transformation” for the entire Rio Grande Valley, President Robert S. Nelsen said Friday in his upbeat Fall Convocation address to faculty and staff.
“We must harness the brain power of our faculty and the energy of our students and engage with the Valley so that we can change not only our students’ lives, but also the lives of everyone — and I mean everyone — in the Valley,” Nelsen said, calling on faculty and staff to work together with him to carry the University into its future.
Despite the budget crisis facing UTPA and every other state-supported institution of higher learning in Texas, Nelsen said that the future of UTPA remains strong and challenging.
“We must and we will improve the social, economic and personal well-being of those who live here,” Nelsen said. “Everyone knows that the best way to do that is through education — but it is also through reaching out to the community with literacy efforts, with entrepreneurial education, with health programs, with civil engineering projects and with civic training.”
To accomplish its mission for the future, and to “truly be an agent of transformation, we will have to transform the University itself” and to do that, UTPA will have to set for itself “some very powerful and maybe even frightening goals,” Nelsen said.
He added that over the next 10 years, the University will, among other things, have to:
• Increase annual giving to $25 million per year, with goals of reaching $7.5 million dollars in three years, to $12 million in six years, and to $20 million in eight years;
• Increase college-going rates in the Valley from 32 percent to 60 percent;
• Grow University enrollment to 30,000 students;
• More than double the annual graduation rate from the current 3,500 a year to 7,500 students a year;
• Build at least four new buildings – Science, Business, University College and an Engineering Building;
• Add eight new doctoral programs;
• Increase research expenditures to $30 million;
• Increase the faculty from 665 to 1,350;
• Add 20 endowed chairs;
• Remake the undergraduate experience by adding the University College and 15 signature, uniquely Pan Am programs;
• Change the four-year graduation rate to 26 percent;
• Change the six-year graduate rate to 65 percent;
• Offer 750 courses on-line;
• Build housing for 4,000 students on campus; and
• Establish an Academy of Distinguished Scholars. Read more…
In the courtyard of the UTB-owned Education and Business Complex, representatives from the Legislature, the UT System and TSC heralded the university’s establishment in 1991 and its new path to becoming an autonomous institution.
After a lively blast of music from Mariachi Escorpion, UTB President Juliet Garcia explained the symbolism behind the newly purchased 600-pound bell.
“We chose the symbolism of a bell because it was rooted in our history but also because of the role higher education must play at the very core of a democratic society,” she said.
Two decades ago UTB was established through a partnership with TSC, a partnership which now is coming to an end. The actual anniversary was Sept 1, but that was the day TSC announced its choice for a new president for the college. Read more…
Written by Juan Prado
The University of Texas System Board of Regents gave final approval Aug. 25 for construction of a nearly $42.7 million Fine Arts Academic and Performance Complex at The University of Texas-Pan American.
As part of the project, existing Fine Arts Music Buildings B and C will undergo renovations. The full interior of Building C will be demolished and reconstructed and the second floor of Building B will be renovated. Both buildings will have safety and accessibility upgrades and will get new heating and cooling systems, new roofs and new interior architectural finishes.
The architectural firm for the project is Page Southerland Page from Austin, Texas.
The complex, which is expected to be close to completion by October 2014, will add a total of nearly 14,500 square feet of space for UTPA’s Fine Arts programs which will allow the University to accommodate 453 music and dance majors, up from the current enrollment of 320, and 44 faculty members, up from the current 38. Read more…
Board members and Harlingen attorney Randy Whittington believe the grant could make an impact right away. Whittington stated, “It is a five year program, but it is front loaded. Almost all of the $30 million dollars will be spent in the first year. It will start right around the first of October with the planning for residency, the implementation of the simulation center and the SMART hospital. We have trained over 800 medical students at the Regional Academic Health Center and it will only grow and expand as we get the medical school.”
Board members expect the plan to provide a substantial boost in education and training for future professionals in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine.
By Neil Morton
But that $1 million award — promised three years in advance to one of 57 U.S. metropolitan areas vying for the greatest increase in their college graduation rate — means little to the lead organizers at both colleges.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation, the conservative think tank that has been behind much of the recent higher education controversies in the state, has begun airing commercials for the first time this month.
“It is imperative that we tell the real story of the state budget battle — and encourage our leaders to pass a conservative budget that protects Texas’ vibrant economy,” the group said in a news release.