Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

President Romo illustrates success, long-term vision for UTSA in speech

President Romo

UTSA is well on its way to achieving Tier One status, according to President Ricardo Romo. In his State of the University Address on Oct. 3, Romo outlined the successes of the university, as well as plans to increase retention and graduation rates and research output to advance its role in shaping the future of the San Antonio community.

“Great things are happening here,” said Romo, regarding the football team’s recent invitation to Conference USA and undefeated record this season. He also discussed the addition of faculty from prestigious universities-such as MIT, Harvard and UC Berkley-and the construction of the new residence hall and athletic complex as signs that UTSA is on the rise. 

President Romo also spoke of the university’s first capital campaign. The goal is to raise $120 million for student and faculty initiatives by 2015. In his first three years as president, Romo raised $9 million. Within the last three years, that amount increased to $110 million. Since April 2012, when the campaign was publicly launched, over $17 million has been donated to the campaign. According to Chief Communications Officer Joe Izbrand, UTSA is “far ahead of schedule.”

“I’m curious about the progress towards Tier One status,” said junior psychology major Derek Wills. Wills, who works in Dr. David Jaffee’s neurobiology lab, recognized that advancement to Tier One status “means [there will be] more research funds. And with more research funds, there are more opportunities for student research.”

Fortunately for students like Wills, President Romo reported that UTSA had a 75 percent increase in research funds from 2006 to 2011. “That’s phenomenal,” said Romo. “We want to continue to accelerate the growth of research at UTSA.”

Romo also discussed the establishment of a Research Advisory Board, which will be chaired and composed of faculty researchers and which will report directly to him with matters regarding the research efforts.

However, according to Romo, the highest priority continues to be the improvement of graduation and retention rates. With only a 12 percent four-year graduation rate, the biggest push is to ensure that every UTSA student has a four-year degree plan so that they are on the path to a timely graduation.

As a result, the Graduation Rate Improvement Plan (GRIP) was implemented last year. The plan is “the most comprehensive… most collaborative initiative ever produced,” Romo said.

Through GRIP, UTSA will promote its Ready Program to students of San Antonio high schools. The goal of the program is to prepare college-bound students for the rigors of college and to ensure that they do not need to take developmental courses.

 The program will provide juniors and seniors with a financial incentive to graduate on schedule with a four-year degree plan.

Romo also mentioned that San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro believes that the city and state need UTSA graduates-and they need them sooner, rather than later. Already, of the 5,000 students who graduate from UTSA each year, 4,000 choose to stay in San Antonio.

Romo also stressed the importance of investing in an education. Graduates who enter into in the San Antonio workforce are a catalyst to help the community, he said. The community, in turn, will see UTSA as a key shareholder and smart investment for the future of San Antonio.

UTSA alumni create a college-educated workforce who potentially create jobs, build homes and become taxpaying San Antonio residents. This investment in education yields an enormous impact on the economy, schools, communities and, ultimately, a viable city that Roadrunners can call home.

In the spirit of cooperation, Romo concluded the State of the University Address by asking everyone to join the collaborative effort to transform UTSA into a Tier One university: “Let’s use the power of education and research to transform lives… for… students, … San Antonio and … Texas.”

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