21st Century University Commission: Ideas Formulate During Second Week of Sessions
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – OCTOBER 8, 2012 – Laura Treviño, an alumna of The University of Texas at Brownsville, is an elementary math strategist for Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent Schools. As an alumna, an educator, a concerned citizen, and now a graduate student in the College of Education, Treviño has attended the past meetings to share her ideas.
“As educators, we are already in the public schools, and we should be the first ones to promote our university and emphasize the importance of continuing on to higher education,” Treviño said.
Mariana Whitley Tumlinson
The next session of a series of meeting for the 21st Century University Commission will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10 in El Gran Salón in Student Union.
The second of the four meetings took place from 6–8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4 at Salón Cassia in the Education and Business Complex on University Boulevard, where participants returned last week to their respective work groups to continue formulating ideas for the future UTB.
In the group discussing “Pathways through College to 21st Century Careers,” Mariana Whitley Tumlinson, Partners for Postsecondary Success Coordinator for United Way of Southern Cameron County, spoke of the importance of making the connection between students and employers.
“These pathways – that include work experience and hands-on learning opportunities – are critical components to preparing a graduate for employment, whether locally or beyond,” Tumlinson said.
Pablo Obregon, a junior mechanical engineering student from Matamoros, attended the breakout session discussing “Innovative Technology for Teaching, Learning and Connections.” Obregon said he was interested in the changes UTB wants to make and feels students’ opinions are important.
“We are known for our international heritage and bilingualism,” Obregon said. “We need to capitalize on that to promote the school and to make sure international students know they are welcome.”
Lucy Willis, Professor of Modern Languages at UTB, spoke of ways to assist international students in the “University: A Family Affair” group co-chaired by Dr. Juliet V. García, UTB President. Over the past several years, Willis and he husband have been a “host family” to international students.
“It has been a joy for us to spend time with these students doing mostly little things like going to H-E-B or WalMart or just hanging out at the house,” Willis said. “There is no financial commitment – it’s just time and understanding. I would like to see a host family program started at UTB, and I encourage local families to consider participating. They will not only give the student a ‘little taste of home,’ but will also learn so much from these international students.”
As the seven breakout sessions were meeting in various rooms on campus, six off-site sessions were also taking place in Harlingen, Port Isabel, Raymondville, Donna and San Benito. These groups were tasked with discussing all seven of the guiding concern topics.
Los Fresnos CISD Superintendent Gonzalo Salazar and Angie Gonzalez, University Relations Officer, co-hosted the Los Fresnos group.
“We had another good discussion at the second meeting,” Gonzalez said. “Among our many ideas, we discussed possibly requiring first-year students to reside in student housing to become 100 percent engaged in the university experience.”
The Port Isabel off-site group, co-chaired by Scott Friedman, restaurateur, planner and economic development board chairman, and Laurie Howell, Executive Director for University Relations, came up with an “out-of-the-box” idea to enhance and grow the marine biology/environmental sciences programs: a cruise ship docked at the Port Isabel San Benito Navigation District that would serve as student housing, dining, classrooms and social space.
Building on that idea, the group members suggested such a facility could also serve for a variety of programs relative to UTB’s distinctive geographic location, including language programs, a hospitality program and entrepreneurship opportunities.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful and so much more practical and efficient for students to remain where they are focusing on their studies and not be driving back and forth to the main campus,” Howell said.
The seven work groups are addressing the following guiding concerns:
The unique attributes of an education at UT Brownsville
Pathways through College to 21st Century Careers
The Successful Student-to-Graduate Model
Student Life: On-Campus, On-Line and On-Site
Innovative Technology for Teaching, Learning and Connections
A Well-Funded University Model
University: A Family Affair
The three guiding principles that participants are being urged to keep at the forefront of discussion are:
Creating a teaching, learning and discovery environment that will develop a complete graduate with advanced critical thinking skills and the capacity for lifelong learning.
Creating a university that will be known as a place of innovation built alongside a culture of agility and adaptability.
Accomplishing the first two principles while keeping UTB an affordable and accessible institution.
Off-campus meeting sites are:
Donna – ISD Administration Building, 116 N. 10th St.
Harlingen – TSTC University Center, 2424 Boxwood
Los Fresnos – CISD boardroom, 32590 State Highway 100
Port Isabel – ISD boardroom, 101 Port Road
San Benito – CISD boardroom, 240 N. Crockett
Raymondville – Rural Technical Skills Training Center, 700 FM 3168
For more information, visit 21st Century Commission.