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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Garcia Highlights Security Fence, Academics At Spring Convocation

A 10-foot-tall southern campus property line fence being built as part of a border security deal with the federal government is almost finished, and the campus community and residents can plant for its future at a February event.

“Many still hunger for a way to demonstrate the pride they had in the University’s action and eventual success,” The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College President Dr. Juliet V. Garcia told staff and faculty at Spring Convocation today, in the Science, Engineering and Technology Building Lecture Hall.

Garcia said details are still being worked out for a wildflower and vine event to “plant seeds of hope for a better future for our democracy” on Monday, Feb. 2. Keppel-AMFELS, a longtime supporter of the University, donated $3,000 for flowers to plant.

Besides working with a team to stop the on-campus construction of a border fence aimed at curbing illegal immigration, Garcia worked late last fall as a member of President-Elect Barack Obama’s education transition team.

“But, I have had the great privilege of service,” Garcia said. “If called tomorrow under the same circumstances, I would return again and again. Not because that work is better than ours, but because it is as important as ours. And, because it seems disingenuous to preach about the virtues of public service and not respond to the call yourself.”

Garcia encouraged the campus community to watch the Inauguration on television or on the Internet on Tuesday, Jan. 20, because it is democracy in action.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Garcia said students seemed to have embraced the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) guidelines put in place in fall 2007. According to SAP, students must earn at least a 2.0 grade point average and complete 70 percent of hours attempted to stay in good academic standing.

“The bottom line is that since the implementation of the new SAP, students are passing a higher percentage of their classes and withdrawing from a lower percentage of their classes,” Garcia said. “The failure rate is also slightly lower in fall 2008 than two years ago.”

The number of students on academic probation fell because of SAP. In fall 2007, 2,154 students were affected; the number fell to 1,787 students in fall 2008.

Academic suspensions also decreased due to SAP. In fall 2007, there were 674 students not allowed to take classes; that number dropped to 626 students for fall 2008.

Giving To The University

Garcia asked staff and faculty to think about philanthropy at the University.

Gifts can be items, like the 1,000 Sabal palm trees being planted along the Fort Brown Resaca and University Boulevard that were donated by Lloyd Horn, father of former UTB/TSC Associate Vice President for Development Barry Horn.

Or, gifts can be monetary that can name seats, brick pavers and rooms at the $25 million Arts Center under construction behind Jacob Brown Auditorium. As part of a campaign for The Arts Center, the University needs to raise more than $6 million to finish the building scheduled to be completed later this year.

“Please believe me when I say that every single donation, no matter the amount, will make a difference,” Garcia said.


Garcia said there will be grand opening celebrations and tours for new buildings opening in the next several months: the Recreation, Education and Kinesiology Center, Classroom Building, New Library and the Center for Early Childhood Studies.

The University will ask the Texas Legislature during their 2009 session to approve $63 million in tuition revenue bonds for a Student Support Services Center to house financial aid, testing, advising, enrollment planning and other offices that support students. Funding will also be sought for a Coastal Studies Center through a partnership with The University of Texas – Pan American in Edinburg.


Garcia recognized new faces in University leadership roles in academic advising and athletics, but has already started the process in finding a new provost.

Dr. Jose G. Martin will be honored at a celebration on his birthday, Thursday, Feb. 4, and retire later that month. He became provost in fall 2000 and also served four years as dean of the UTB/TSC College of Science, Mathematics and Technology. He will have an office on campus to write and do research on sustainable energy, architecture and engineering science.

Greenwood Asher and Associates, a nationwide search firm for education executives, will seek and screen qualified job candidates. Dr. Yvonne Freeman, a professor in the UTB/TSC School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, is the chairman of the campus search committee. Garcia said the goal is to have a new provost by this fall.

Two staff members were selected to receive Texas Southmost College Foundation Scorpion Family Scholarships, which pay for three semester credit hours toward an undergraduate degree. Scholarship money comes from campus community contributions through the State Employees Charitable Campaign. The winners were Ubaldo Martinez in User Support Services and Marcela Guerra in Classic Upward Bound.

SOURCE: UTB-TSC News and Information

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