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Legislative Tour Stops at University
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – JANUARY 25, 2013 – Several Texas legislators visited The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College on Friday, Jan. 25 for a series of panel discussions as part of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership’s 19th Legislative Tour of the Rio Grande Valley.
Foremost on some of the minds of a mid-morning panel made of presidents of the region’s five higher education institutions was the proposed merger of UTB and The University of Texas – Pan American in Edinburg and the creation of a new medical school planned for Harlingen.
“The Valley is a preview of what our state and much of our nation will look like in the very near future,’ said Dr. Juliet V. Garcia, President of UTB. “If we invent new models for success here, they can be of great use elsewhere where the need for them already exists or very soon will.”
The new university was first introduced to both campuses in December 2012 by leaders of The University of Texas System Board of Regents.
“It will save the kids in the Valley,” said Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, President of UTPA. “Every two months we open up two new elementary schools and one new middle school. We can’t educate these kids if we don’t open this university.”
The new university will use technology with individual online attention and campus engagement. Garcia said UTB was the first institution in The University of Texas System to offer a completely online degree. That degree, the Master of Education in Educational Technology, was ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 Best Online Education Program Rankings released earlier this month.
“We are very excited to be part of the development of these next-generation environments and mean to be a testing ground for innovative models in higher education,” said Garcia.
Technology is also being embraced as Texas Southmost College plans to become operationally independent this fall, said Dr. Lily Tercero, President. The two-year college will operate with UTB’s accreditation until the UT System-TSC partnership ends in fall 2015.
Dr. Shirley Reed, President of South Texas College in McAllen and Dr. Cesar Maldonado, President of Texas State Technical College Harlingen, both told the audience that most of its degree programs have articulation agreements with UTB and UTPA.
Other panelists represented county regional mobility authorities, the Port of Brownsville, Space X, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the International Bank of Commerce.
Legislators met partnership employees in Harlingen to begin the weekend-long tour on Thursday, Jan. 24 at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen.
Besides visiting the university, the visitors also toured the Port of Brownsville on Friday, Jan. 25. On Saturday, Jan. 26 the group will travel to the Willacy County Historical Museum, the Duke Energy Wind Farm, a colonia near Sebastian and Tire Recycling & Processing in Harlingen.
The tour concludes on Sunday, Jan. 27 with a luncheon at Texas State Technical College Harlingen.
State representatives on the trip will hear more about the university next week.
University students, faculty members, administrators and supporters from UTB, UTPA and UT Health’s RAHC in Harlingen will visit the Texas Capitol in Austin on Wednesday, Jan. 30 for Rio Grande Valley Higher Education Day. The day’s highlight will be the introduction of a resolution supporting the unification of UTB and UTPA and a new medical school for the region. A rally will take place at noon in the Capitol Rotunda featuring UTB’s One o’Clock Guitar Ensemble and UTPA’s Mariachi Aztlán.