|BROWNSVILLE, May 19 - Dr. Guy Bailey, the sole finalist for president of UT-Rio Grande Valley, believes the new university will attracts students from across the hemisphere.
Bailey was asked about UTRGV’s global reach during an open forum with UT-Brownsville staff on Friday. The question came from Alla Paroiatnikova, executive director of the office for global engagement at UTB.
“I think this (UTRGV) will be an attractive institution across the border and around the whole hemisphere, really. I think as our programs begin to develop you’ll find a lot of interest outside the Valley,” Bailey said.
Bailey said that when he was president of Texas Tech University he actively recruited in the Valley. “If you were at Texas Tech and you were trying to recruit a student here in the Valley, that same student was probably being recruited by Stanford and Notre Dame and UT-Austin,” he said. The one thing he had going for him, Bailey said, was that he would tell prospective students and their parents that his office was always open to them.
“I will do the same thing here. I want to meet the school counselors. I want to meet the school principals. I want to be an active part of the recruiting and we want to take care of the Valley first. But I think as this institution gets going there will be a lot of interest from outside as well so we will probably do that too,” Bailey said.
Asked what she thought of Bailey’s response, Paroiatnikova told the Guardian: “I expected him to give a grandiose vision, be more on the grand scale, rather than, ‘yeah, we will do it.’ This university is being called the Gateway to America so I thought he would emphasize not only things across the border but across the globe.”
Paroiatnikova is an active member of the Texas International Education Board. She said her peers on this group have nothing but good things to say about Bailey. “They were really excited and congratulated me (on Bailey’s pending appointment to the UTRGV presidency). They said, ‘you will have a great supporter of your international programs.’ I look forward to working with him,” Paroiatnikova said.
Asked how supportive UTB President Juliet Garcia has been of international programs, Paroiatnikova said: “I came on board four years ago and during this time President Garcia has given wholehearted support to International. We have established partnerships with 21 universities across the globe. We are aggressively moving into Latin America, we have great partnerships in Asia and Europe and Australia. We have student exchanges. We have students going for a semester and a full year, all over the world.”
By way of an example, Paroiatnikova pointed out that this year the first biology students ever from UTB are going to study for a semester in Australia.
“We have had a tremendous success with our global engagement. We are also one of the universities with the highest percentage of international students. We have around 4.5 percent, UT Austin has five percent. But, most of our students come from Mexico, about 75 percent, the rest from around the world. I think we have to move more aggressively to recruit students from Latin America, from Asia, from all over the world,” Paroiatnikova said.
“We have built a solid foundation for our global engagement. We just need a lot of funding and support to do what the top universities in this country are doing with internationalizing the community.”
Paroiatnikova was co-chair of the UTB/UT-Pan American international programs and global initiatives working group. The other co-chair was Cynthia Brown, vice provost for graduate studies, academic centers and continuing education at UTPA. The group was asked to produce a report in preparation for the start of UTRGV.
“We have a very ambitious plan which we drew for the new university. We have proposed a whole new administrative structure, which has a vice president for International. We will have to see what happens,” Paroiatnikova said.
Here is the executive summary of the UTB/UTPA International Programs and Global Initiatives Working Group:
The International Programs and Global Initiatives Working Group envisions the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) as a globally engaged university, represented by comprehensive internationalization with a special focus on Latin America. The guiding principles established by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System strongly commit to creating a new university that promotes access to higher education and building a diverse student body to become a premier university of the first class as well as the nation’s largest and most successful Hispanic-serving institutions.
The working group recommends establishing an Office of Global Engagement to develop relevant internationalization strategies based on the UTRGV mission, vision and strategic goals and specific academic needs of the University’s colleges. The main activities to be integrated under a broad umbrella organization include:
• Centralized administrative Office of Global Engagement
• Center for Latin American Studies
• International Admission and Recruitment
• International Student and Scholar Services
• Global Initiatives and Partnerships
• Study Abroad
* Language Institute
The activities listed above are interrelated and significant synergies will arise from bringing them together. For example, international scholars can be housed at the Global Village and interact with international students as well as UTRGV faculty and students associated with the Center for Latin American Studies. They can also improve their English-speaking skills at the Language Institute. As the Language Institute prepares students to linguistically meet university standards, they will be included in International Student and Scholars cultural and campus events from day one to facilitate their transition to academic programs. The working group recommendations embrace a strong commitment to the international student–centered approach, service excellence, and utilization of the newest technology to better serve them. The following summarizes the top three priorities for innovative programs to be implemented at UTRGV. A detailed description of these, along with other recommendations is included in the Recommendations section of this report.
• International Student One-Stop Shop – streamlining academic and administrative programs with redesigned processes to promote a student service - centered mode of operation. Integrating international students into the campus culture beginning with the application process will enhance their success at UTRGV.
• Global Village Residence – a community to support and engage international students, scholars, visitors as well as local students, staff, and faculty. The Global Village will foster increased mobility for reciprocal exchanges students and scholars due to the safety, comfort and security provided to UTRGV’s international students. Specialized programs organized at the residence could include International Dinners, International Coffee Hours, and International Mentorship.
• Center for Latin American Studies – a center that will highlight UTRGV as a “Gateway to the Americas”. UTRGV students are positioned to become the next generation of bi-lingual, bi-cultural, and bi-literate medical professionals, technologists, artists, authors, diplomats, academics, and entrepreneurs linking the US and Latin America. The Center will create the linkages between students and faculty at UTRGV with those at universities throughout Latin America.
• Bridge Program – a transition to UTRGV’s academic programs for students who are academically prepared but do not meet the required language proficiency standards. This program will allow these students to be admitted to an academic program with the condition of completing language studies before matriculating into the academic coursework. This will help meet the goal of increasing international student enrollment.
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a three-part series to be published this week on UTRGV programs.