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Regents keep plan to establish UTRGV moving forward

AUSTIN – The University of Texas System Board of Regents voted Thursday on its first official action to establish a new institution, UT Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV).

The Regents approved three significant items: degree programs to be offered at UTRGV; a process to hire tenure and tenure-track faculty from UT Brownsville and UT Pan American; and the allocation of up to $5 million to fund critical communications efforts to help launch UTRGV.

All three items were presented and discussed during the Academic Affairs Committee Wednesday and were voted on by the full Board of Regents Thursday.

A total of 137 baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees are proposed to be offered at UTRGV. Regents gave the authorization to submit the inventory of degree programs to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for review and approval.

Here’s a complete list of degree programs approved by the Board of Regents. A group of faculty and academic administrators from both UT Brownsville and UT Pan American worked together to accomplish the consolidation.

The Regents’ vote marks the first official act to combine the talent, assets and resources of UT Brownsville and UT Pan American. UTRGV will welcome its inaugural class of students in the fall of 2015. Its medical school will open in the fall of 2016.

Regents named Guy Bailey the sole finalist for president of UTRGV and are expected to meet later this month to consider his official appointment. Dr. Bailey will visit UT Brownsville and UT Pan American Friday to meet with students, staff, faculty and local leaders.

More than 100 faculty members from both UT Brownsville and UT Pan American have been meeting since October to help guide the process of combining the academic programs of the two institutions.

“The first day of classes for UT Rio Grande Valley is quickly approaching, and we are pleased with the progress being made to transition to the new UTRGV as smoothly as possible,” Board of Regents Chairman Paul Foster said. “We are indebted to the students, faculty and staff of UT Brownsville and UT Pan American who have been helping us guide this historic effort.”

On Thursday, Regents also adopted the process and procedures that will be followed to hire tenure and tenure-track faculty from UT Brownsville and UT Pan American to UTRGV.

The full process adopted by the Board of Regents is posted on the UT System website

Regents also allocated up to $5 million from the Available University Fund to fund resources needed to recruit and enroll students; create a comprehensive website for UTRGV and its medical school; and to produce electronic, print and video materials needed to provide essential information to students, parents, faculty and staff.  

“This has been a dream of so many for so long, and it is incredible to see the wheels fully in motion,” Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., said. “We are establishing a world-class university for South Texas, and there’s a tremendous amount of work to be done in the next 15 months and there’s not a moment to waste.”

About The University of Texas System

Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking 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 nine academic universities, six health institutions and a fall 2013 enrollment of more than 213,000. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public universities in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $14.6 billion (FY 2014) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With about 90,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.