|AUSTIN, July 11 - University of Texas System regents expect their new Rio Grande Valley university to provide a leadership role in fostering economic and community partnerships to help solve local, state, national, and global problems.
This leadership role was one of 15 “goals and guiding principles” agreed for the new institution at a UT System board of regents meeting on Wednesday. Another is that the university serves as a “Gateway to the Americas by cultivating partnerships with global leaders in education, health, research and other strategic, high growth industries.”
Regents expect the new university, which will be created out of the ashes of UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville, to become “one of the largest and most successful Hispanic serving institutions in the U.S.”
In a statement, the regents said new university will provide “an outstanding education to the students of South Texas, Texas, the United States and the world.” They said this education “will be of the highest quality; it will be affordable, accessible and innovative. The new university will transform Texas and the nation by becoming leader in student success, teaching, research and healthcare.”
There was no discussion at the board meeting on what name should be given to the new university. Regents are expected to start a global search for a new president for the university in the coming months.
Board of Regents Chair Gene Powell, a native of Weslaco, Texas, said the new university will combine the resources of UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville and, unlike those institutions, will be eligible for participation in the Permanent University Fund. He said it will automatically be the second-largest Hispanic-serving institution in the nation and promises to transform education, opportunity and the economy of South Texas. And, he said regents have pledged to build a world-class university and pursue global excellence in teaching, research and healthcare.
“These guiding principles are the foundation on which this new university will be built,” Powell said. “If we are truly to transform South Texas and build a state-of-the-art university in the Rio Grande Valley, we have to think globally and that is exactly what we are doing.”
Powell will be at UTPA and UTB next Tuesday when Gov. Rick Perry ceremonially signs into law Senate Bill 24, which authorizes the creation of the new university and a four-year medical school. UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa will also be present to discuss the next steps in the creation of the new university.
Here are the 15 goals and guiding principles for the new university:
* Fully integrate next generation technology and customized learning to increase affordability and maximize student success.
* Promote access to postsecondary education to a diverse student body to become one of the largest and most successful Hispanic serving institutions in the U.S.A.
* Employ the highest quality faculty members and staff who pursue global excellence in teaching, research, healthcare and service.
* Streamline academic and administrative programs and redesign processes to increase productivity and promote a student and service centered mode of operation.
* Promote arts and humanities programs to produce state, national and world leaders who are bicultural, bilingual, and bi-literate.
* Develop programmatic strength in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and health.
* Develop a Medical School of the first class, with outstanding undergraduate and graduate medical education, public health, health professional degrees and clinical research, to improve the health of the community.
* Become a global leader in higher education, health education, biomedical research, emerging technology and preparing students to be lifelong learners.
* Pursue applied and translational research to address critical local, state, national, and global needs.
*Build on the excellent economic activity and strength of the State of Texas and benefit from the State’s leadership in the world.
* Provide a leadership role in fostering economic and community partnerships to help solve local, state, national, and global problems.
* Promote innovation and knowledge discovery with business and industry that will lead to job growth and improvements in the quality of the region’s workforce.
* Build a hub for inventions and intellectual property that will lead to economic and community prosperity and an improved quality of life for the region, the State, the nation and our world.
* Serve as a “Gateway to the Americas” by cultivating partnerships with global leaders in education, health, research and other strategic, high growth industries.
* Leverage the size, strength, and excellence of the University of Texas System and its fifteen outstanding institutions to shorten the time it takes to achieve these goals.
McAllen native Ernie Aliseda was attending his first UT System board meeting as a regent. He said he wished the new university had been around when he was in school because it would have meant not having to leave the Valley. Aliseda earned an undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University and a law degree from the University of Houston. “From my standpoint, when I left for college I told my parents I wasn't coming back. I do think if there was an opportunity to have a school that had more programs and also more graduate degrees, I would have definitely stayed,” he said.
The Valley’s two state senators were at the board of regents meeting and both were asked to say a few words.
State Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, thanked the board of regents for its role in creating the new university. He said generations of students in South Texas will now “have the opportunity to attend a world class university and medical school.” He said he had dreamed of creating such an institution from the moment he became a state senator in 1990.
State Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, said education is the best equalizer society has. “Education is the key to the success of our young people and our nation. For us this is a dream come true,” Hinojosa said.
The UT System board of regents also agreed to help UT-Brownsville acquire much needed land and property. It had lost both as a result of its divorce from Texas Southmost College. The land deal is worth nearly $50 million. Under the terms of the deal, Texas Southmost College gets about $44.8 million in money and property in return for providing UTB with at least 66 acres of land.