Last Thursday Dr. Mauli Agrawal, UTSA interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, gave a brief report to the Faculty Senate at their monthly meeting. Agrawal began by commenting on President Ricardo Romo’s administrative leave.
“I honestly cannot tell you anything more than what the newspapers are reporting because that’s all that we know,” Agrawal said. The UT System is holding information “very tightly. I only got 16 hours advance notice,” the provost said on Chancellor McRaven’s announcement placing Romo on administrative leave due to allegations regarding his conduct.
Agrawal stated that he hoped for the sake of “all of us” that there’s a quick resolution to the investigation, within the next week or two weeks.
“My focus right now is to make sure the ship is running; nevertheless, it’s a hard time for all of us,” he explained.
The mood in the room was tense. A frustrated faculty senator asked why acting UTSA President Pedro Reyes had not given a statement. Before stepping into this role, Reyes was the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the UT System.
“The situation is highly charged and a lot of lawyers are involved,” Agrawal responded. He said that he was personally delighted with Reyes who at one time was Romo’s boss. According to Agrawal, the acting president is eager to address the Faculty Senate and students. Reyes attended the Student Government Association’s general assembly. Agrawal mentioned that Reyes visited the Sombrilla to chat with students. The Paisano attempted to reach Reyes but was intercepted by Joe Izbrand, UTSA’s chief communications officer. In an email, Izbrand said, “As I’m sure you can imagine, Dr. Reyes’ schedule is quite full in these early days in his role as Acting President and, unfortunately, he is not available for an interview at this time.”
Agrawal also discussed President Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven majority Muslim countries and the impact it might have on UTSA students.
“There are 50 students from the banned countries, so summer may become an issue,” the provost said. Many international students prefer to spend the season in their home countries, but the travel ban may complicate those plans, he explained. There are pending applications to graduate programs from several of the countries listed in the executive order.
Agrawal said that within the last three years UTSA has experienced a significant decrease in the number of international students enrolled. Tuition for international students is significantly higher than in-state tuition and is an important source of revenue for the university.
“These are tough times, but the sky is not falling,” Agrawal concluded.
The Faculty Senate will meet again March 23 at 3:30 p.m., in the Regent’s Room (MB 3.106).