When and why was The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley created?
The UT System and Board of Regents sought authorization from the Texas Legislature to create a new University of Texas academic institution in 2013. In the 83rd regular session, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 24 to accomplish this goal. The bill was signed into law by Governor Perry.
UTRGV was created to transform Texas and the nation by becoming a global leader in innovation, student success, research and health care.
- UTRGV will integrate next-generation technology and customized learning to increase access and affordability for all students to become the largest and most successful Hispanic-serving institution in the nation.
- UTRGV will serve as a “Gateway to the Americas” by partnering with global leaders in education, health, research and other strategic, high-growth industries.
- UTRGV will produce state, national and world leaders who are bicultural, bilingual and biliterate.
- UTRGV will provide a leadership role in fostering economic and community development to help solve critical local, state, national and global problems.
- UTRGV will recruit and employ the highest quality faculty members and staff who are interested in pursuing global excellence in teaching, research and service.
- UTRGV will be eligible for full participation in the Permanent University Fund.
- UTRGV’s school of medicine will augment health care for the state, increase biomedical research, provide more opportunities for residents of the Rio Grande Valley to become physicians and improve the economic vibrancy of the region.
When was the university named?
The UT System Board of Regents selected “The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley” as the name for the new university at the Dec. 12, 2013, Board of Regents meeting. The name was selected after a four-week community campaign to solicit input on the new name from students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members from throughout South Texas. More than 3,500 people participated directly in the campaign via social media, email and voicemail.
How was the university established?
In the summer of 2013, a special adviser was appointed through the UT System Office of Academic Affairs to coordinate and facilitate a transition team that began planning and developing UTRGV with the presidents of UT Pan American and UT Brownsville.
Campus-based work teams and regional advisory groups were formed to begin planning the mission of the new university, curriculum and academic programs, student activities and support services, organizational structure, administrative functions, community outreach, research and economic development, etc.
Chancellor town hall meetings with campus (faculty, staff and students) and community members were held to help communicate updates and answer questions during the transition process.
The Board of Regents launched a national search with the goal of announcing a president for the new university in the spring of 2014. A search advisory committee that included representatives from UT Brownsville, UT Pan American and the South Texas community assisted with the process. The UT System Board of Regents formally named Guy Bailey the first president of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on May 20, 2014.
Transition and accreditation processes will continue throughout 2014 and 2015.
The new university will enroll its inaugural class of first-year students in the fall of 2015.
What happens to UT Brownsville and UT Pan American when UTRGV opens its doors?
Assets and resources from the current institutions will be consolidated and become part of UTRGV. It is the expectation that both campuses will grow with the new university.
What is PUF money? Why is UTRGV eligible for PUF funding?
“PUF” is the abbreviation for the Permanent University Fund, a public endowment established in 1876 by the Texas Constitution that receives revenues and earnings on investments from land in West Texas to support institutions in the UT and Texas A&M systems.
UTRGV is specifically made eligible for access to the PUF by the law recently passed by the Texas Legislature and signed by Governor Perry.
What will happen to the faculty and staff of UT Brownsville and UT Pan American?
During the transition process, UTB and UTPA faculty, staff and administrators will continue with their current university responsibilities.
There will be careful thought and deliberation by the transition team, in collaboration with faculty, staff, campus-based work groups and expert consultants, on looking for ways to improve organizational efficiency to focus more resources on building a 21st century university in South Texas.
The new university will establish single academic programs and single administrative units, which could require reorganization and reassignments of staff.
A guiding principle of the new university will be to expand and grow programs and opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley while enhancing efficiency and excellence.
What will the impact of UTRGV be on current UT Brownsville and UT Pan American students?
Students admitted to or currently enrolled at UTB and UTPA will be automatically admitted to UTRGV.
Current students will benefit from a new vision for the university, which is to become a global leader in innovation, education, research and health care.
Transcripts, course credits, degree plans, grants, loans, legal documents and other student support and academic services will be transitioned appropriately as the new university is created.
What tuition and fees will be charged to students at UTRGV?
The tuition and fees will be determined by the UT System Board of Regents, whose focus is to improve access, affordability and excellence.
Where is UTRGV located?
Initially, UTRGV will use the existing facilities of UTB and UTPA.
However, academic programs, student support services, research and health education, including administration, will take place all over the Rio Grande Valley, including, but not limited to:
Academic campuses and other academic operations will be located in Cameron and Hidalgo counties, as well as an academic center in Starr County.
Medical education programs for first-year and second-year students will be primarily located in Hidalgo County, while educational programs for third-year and fourth-year students will be primarily located in Cameron County.
Educational programs for all medical students will take full advantage of existing educational facilities and programs at UTB, UTPA and the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen.
Graduate medical education programs and activities will be conducted throughout the region.
Will students have to travel between multiple campuses to complete their degrees?
A key goal of the new university is to utilize technology and innovative learning strategies, such as online and hybrid courses, to increase student access and success across the entire Rio Grande Valley and minimize travel.
How does the new university affect the degrees of UT Brownsville and UT Pan American alumni? Do they need to get new diplomas?
The degrees previously conferred by UTB and UTPA will remain with alumni their entire lives.
UTRGV will award new academic degrees under its new name for graduates starting in December 2015. Future requests for records and transcripts from UTB and UTPA will be serviced by UTRGV.
Will UTRGV be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)? What about other specialized program accreditations?
Yes, UTRGV is in the process of obtaining accreditation by SACS. Faculty members and administrators will also work to obtain discipline-specific accreditations.
What happens to the many gifts and endowments that were directed to UTB and UTPA over the years?
The UT System and UTRGV will honor the donors’ wishes as prescribed in their previous gift agreements and will communicate with each donor to ensure that donor intent is honored.
How will the medical school be integrated into the university?
Plans to establish a stand-alone medical school in South Texas, authorized by statute in 2009, were under way prior to the proposal to create a new university.
The new school of medicine will be part of UTRGV once it is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). The medical school is expected to enroll its first class in the fall of 2016.
What can I do to advance UTRGV and become more involved?
Support UTRGV with philanthropic funding toward student scholarships, faculty, programs and research.
Be an advocate and encourage Rio Grande Valley high school graduates and others to attend UTRGV.