UTRGV off to a stellar start in historic first year

AUSTIN— The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley – established just one year ago – already has exceeded expectations on multiple measures. UTRGV students head back to class today for the university’s second academic year.

Student retention, research expenditures and philanthropic gifts to the institution have increased dramatically, a direct result of the extraordinary work and commitment of UTRGV faculty and staff and the entire Rio Grande Valley community.

UT Rio Grande Valley opened in fall 2015 in a historic move that combined the resources and assets of UT Brownsville and UT Pan American with the goal to transform South Texas by becoming a leader in student success, teaching and research. UTRGV’s School of Medicine opened this fall and will play a critical role in driving improved health care for the region.

“The success of this institution in its first year is stunning, particularly given the challenges of this huge transition,” Chancellor William H. McRaven said. “UTRGV has achieved everything we hoped for and then some, and it’s because of the institution’s tremendous leadership and the widespread support from the Rio Grande Valley community. The future is very, very bright for South Texas.”

Achievements include:

  • The preliminary retention rate for 2015 freshmen returning as sophomores is 81.6 percent, higher than the national average of 78.6 percent, and the third highest in UT System, behind UT Austin and UT Dallas.

  • Philanthropy increased a staggering 435 percent, from $4.3 million in fiscal year 2015 to $23 million in fiscal year 2016, including a $15 million gift from Robert C. Vackar to the College of Business & Entrepreneurship.

  • Research expenditures increased more than 56 percent, from $16.4 million to $25.7 million.

  • Student applications are up 21 percent, from 11,030 for fall 2015 to 13,332 for fall 2016.

  • This year’s freshman class boasts 18 percent more valedictorians and salutatorians and 14 percent more students in the top 10 percent of their graduating high school class compared to last year’s freshman class.

  • Forbes magazine, in its America’s Top College report for 2016, ranked UTRGV third highest in the UT System – behind UT Austin and UT Dallas – based on graduation rates, student satisfaction, debt and post graduate success.

“This data tells us we are doing something right,” UTRGV President Guy Bailey said.  “So many people have worked incredibly hard to launch this new university and it is tremendously gratifying to see that hard work begin to pay off. We are committed to providing a world-class education for our students and for transforming South Texas with unlimited educational opportunities. This is only the beginning.”

About The University of Texas System

Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking basic, applied and clinical research, and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. With 14 institutions and an enrollment of more than 221,000, the UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates almost two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public institutions in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $17.9 billion (FY 2017) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With more than 20,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates – and nearly 80,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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Jenny LaCoste-Caputo: jcaputo@utsystem.edu  • 512-499-4361(direct) • 512-574-5777 (cell) 
Karen Adler: kadler@utsystem.edu  • 512-499-4360 (direct) • 210-912-8055 (cell)