Project South Texas

Q and A, page 3

Q and A, page 3


Q and A, page 3

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What masters programs are going to be offered? The same ones that are being offered in UTB and UTPA or are their going to be new ones?

The inventory of UTRGV programs, undergraduate and graduate, will be considered for approval by the UT Board of Regents in their May 2014 meeting. The approved list will be posted on this website immediately thereafter.


I would like UTRGV to consider having a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program, I believe the closest is Baylor.

Thank you for your suggestion. It has been forwarded on.


I am currently employed as a member of the tenured faculty at UTPA. I was planning on applying for two important national/international grants. The application deadlines for these grants are Aug 1, 2014 and Oct. 1, 2014 respectively. Both grants, rather prestigious, are to be disbursed beginning AY 2015-2016. I was wondering if you would advise that I delay applying for these grants until next year, when I will have a better idea whether or not I will retain my current faculty status.

I recommend that you please discuss this with your faculty chairperson as soon as possible.


Would you offer a Physical Therapy Program?

It is too early to tell. However, there is a recommendation from an academic program working group to offer the Doctor of Physical Therapy. A proposal would need to be submitted to both the UT System Board of Regents and the Coordinating Board for approval of any new degree program. There is no further information about when or if such a proposal will be going forward at this time.


All the questions regarding engineering program are vaguely answered with clear indication that “It is too early to know much detail about which and how programs will be offered at UTRGV” will engineering be cancelled all together?

There is no plan to close engineering programs. In May 2014, the UT System Board of Regents will consider and take possible action on a large number of degree programs that UTRGV will offer. The programs the Board of Regents will consider are among those currently offered at either UT Brownsville or UT Pan American. Final approval of the degree programs offered by UTRGV rests with the Texas Higher Education Board. THECB action is expected in July 2014.


I'm currently an LVN graduated from Valley Grande Institute located in Weslaco. Would I fit the profile in getting accepted into the new Medical School? or what would I have to do to get in? any pre-requisites?

The UTRGV Medical School admissions criteria are not yet established but you can get a good idea of what they will be by looking at the established guidelines for UT Health Science Center San Antonio (UTHSCSA) by going to


Is it correct that all applicants for the fall 2015 semester at UTRGV will have 50 seats available? And UTB and UTPA have their own seats available? Do we apply for each campus? When we apply, what is the process to pick a campus and apply?

You may be confusing the medical school enrollment projection of 50 students for 2016 and the undergraduate enrollment of UTRGV for 2015, which is expected to be more than 28,000 students. UTRGV will offer programs online and on both the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses, as well as other sites. Students will apply to UTRGV and be able to choose from among a variety of options.


In regard to the Working Group Reports posted on the UT Brownsville web site, how will questions and comments be handled? Will the questions and comments be handled by UT Brownsville? I am concerned that some of the reports do not accurately reflect the program and services offered by the institution. I am concerned that vital support may be missed as we move forward.

The recommendations of the working groups and subsequent feedback will be part of several options that the new UTRGV president and administration will consider. Other options to be considered by the new president will come from external consultants engaged by the UT System, and the System administration. UTRGV will not be an extension of UTB nor UTPA but a new, different university that will meaningfully address the UTRGV Guiding Principles approved by the Board of Regents.


Will the new UTRGV have a real recycling program in place? Currently at UTPA there is no recycling of paper, and there is limited recycling effort for plastic water and soda bottles. This is not acceptable at a major university, especially one promoting a strong Environmental Sciences program.

Thank you for your inquiry. Your question and point will be conveyed to the UTRGV administration when it is formed this summer.


Will there be a football team added anytime soon?

The UTRGV Athletics Committee will be making a recommendation to the EVC OAA and Chancellor regarding whether football is a viable option at the new institution.


Word out of UTPA is that the music and art programs at UTB will be under them. True or false?

It is not possible for UTB music and art programs to be under UTPA since both UTB and UTPA will cease to exist in 2015. UTRGV will have a single music and arts program.


A question still remains unanswered. At UTB, there are many faculty with a master's degree who are associate professors, yet faculty with doctorates are assistant professors. Will that same classification policy be endorsed at UTRGV?

Faculty qualifications and rank, as well as tenure and promotion criteria, are generally within the domain of the faculty and administration, guided by the mission of the institution. Once the Board of Regents adopts a mission statement for UTRGV, any questions relating to faculty classification should be clarified.


“The committee will be making recommendations to the UT System regarding items such as the location of the men’s and women’s programs, athletics facilities and the athletics budget and will strive to provide ample opportunity for participation in athletics by students valley-wide”…if I read this right than, locations will be spread out across the valley which is good. I read in the Brownsville herald that UTB athletes can try out for the different sports; isn’t this wrong? Why only UTB athletes and not UTPA? In the case of volleyball, it is obvious who has the better athletes.

No decisions have been made regarding the locations of the athletics programs. The UTRGV Athletics Committee will make recommendations regarding this issue and others to the Chancellor and EVC OAA. The UTPA athletics program, which is an NCAA Division I program, is being converted into the UTRGV program. The athletes on these teams will continue as members of the Division I program.


What about transportation between campuses? Despite the emphasis on online education, there will still be a need for people and things to travel from one campus to the next.

UT System has been at work designing an inter-campus transportation system since last November and has laid the groundwork for a convenient, reliable, inexpensive (or free) and robust system that collaborates with present transportation providers and new ones. Work is underway to provide a smartphone app that will make finding and arranging state-of-the-industry transportation options available to any student on any campus (of any other Valley higher ed. institution). More on this will be announced later in the year.


UT System has estimated that UTRGV will bring 10,000 jobs to the Valley. How many of these will be publicly funded positions at UTRGV with UT System employee benefits?

John Hockenyos, founder and president of the economic analysis and public policy consulting firm TXP estimated the new university and medical school would likely account for 7,000 new jobs in the RGV, and 10,000 if economic development impact is factored in. This is his data and you can see his December 7, 2012 presentation at


When will the tuition for UTRGV be announced?

This is not likely to be known until next Spring. Once the UTRGV administration has a proposal for the tuition and fees, the Board of Regents must approve it. So there is no way to know for certain until it does.


Will UTRGV be a Coordinated Admission Program (CAP) campus for entering freshmen not initially admitted to UT Austin -- as UTB and UTPA have been -- beginning in the fall semester 2015?

It is too early to know much detail about which and how programs will be offered at UTRGV. The determination whether the Coordinated Admission Program with UT Austin program will be offered should be made by September 2014.


Will the new UT Rio Grande Valley have an Early Childhood program, a CDC, and/or a lab school?

It is too early to know much detail about which and how programs will be offered at UTRGV. The determination whether an Early Childhood program will be offered should be made by September 2014.


Will the new UT Rio Grande Valley have an Early Childhood program, a CDC, and/or a lab school?

It is too early to know much detail about which and how programs will be offered at UTRGV. The determination whether an Early Childhood program will be offered should be made by September 2014.


Will there be a reduction in force? If so, can you provide a projected timeline for how and when the process will play out?

There is no Reduction In Force planned. UTPA and UTB are being abolished next year. Senate Bill 24, which is the basis for the creation of UTRGV, states: "the Board of Regents shall facilitate the employment at (UTRGV) of as many faculty and staff of the abolished universities as is prudent and practical."


Why is all of the news about UTRGV centered around the medical school? There will be a lot more students at the academic campuses than in the med school. I would like to see the focus be on everyone not just a few med school students.

The news mostly follows events and, as would be expected and due, the appointment of the Dean of the new Medical School has drawn a great deal of attention. But the majority of press stories and the content of this web site have been focused on Academic-related matters. In the year to come, that proportionality of news stories will likely trend more to the general matters of the new administrative and academic structure and programming and matters of greatest interest to students.


Critical questions have been asked but no answers are forthcoming in relation to some critical UTB practices. Are we to expect those answers soon?

Your question is a broad one since there are many critical questions in many key areas that are presently under consideration. During the last six months, literally hundreds of local campuses faculty, staff, students and administrators, UT System personnel and consultants have been busy laying out elements to consider for the design of UTRGV. That phase is ending and now begins the phase of developing a plan to implement the finally approved design, which will then be followed by the actual implementation of it. All these phases take time and some steps await the approval of the new president. So answers will be created as we go but all the answers will not be known until Spring 2015.


Will UT-RGV's engineering programs retain UTPA/UTB's ABET-accreditation? As a current engineering student who will be graduating in 2017, I'm wondering if UTRGV will still award the ABET accredited degree I started with UTPA, or if it will have to re-apply for accreditation and students graduating during this time will not have ABET accredited degrees. Accreditation is very beneficial for job seeking students.

It is too early to know much detail about which and how programs will be offered at UTRGV, though UTRGV intends to ensure that students that have started a program at UTPA or UTB will be able to complete it. The detail about the ABET accreditation should be determined by September 2014.


How will the engineering programs improve at both the undergraduate and graduate levels? Will any changes come quick enough for current engineering students to benefit from the merger?

It is too early to know much detail about when and how programs will be offered at UTRGV but all programs it does offer will be of high quality. More details should be available by September 2014.


You state that it is "more helpful if previous academic structures be deemphasized" as "the Board of Regents have from the beginning envisioned a 21st Century University." Yet this appeal to authority ("Because the Regents say so") is the opposite of what we teach our students. What is the evidence that radically changed programs or online/teleconferenced technology aids learning and is preferred by students? Actual research suggests that students are less satisfied with online classes and on the whole prefer traditional classes (e.g. shi et al 2011; Robinson and Doverspike 2006; Maki et al 2000). Has Project South Texas been informed in its decision-making by peer-reviewed research verifying student preference for online courses and the quality of online education?

The Board of Regents' envisioned university is a forward-looking initiative to accommodate inexorable trends already underway and to initiate technological advances in higher education, as well as a changing world. Virtually all of the sea-changing events of the last decade were those completely unforeseen. The ipad as a common platform for learning was not included in most research from 2000 to 2011, for example, yet it is now a fundamental instrument in some school districts in the Rio Grande Valley already. As put best by Steve Mintz recently in Inside Higher Education, we mean "to serve as an innovation incubator, assisting campuses in building the data-driven strategic enrollment and student lifecycle management infrastructure needed to support education in the 21st century; in advancing next-generation online learning, which will play a critical role in enhancing access, affordability, student success, and institutional sustainability; and leading the way as institutions gradually develop outcomes-driven, competency-based, career-oriented educational pathways." Our challenge is to blaze that new path and we believe that begins by starting with a completely open mind, including looking for new academic structures.


I was wondering where and when does one apply to the new medical school? What a prerequisite coursework?

Current plans call for the first Medical School class in 2016 with applications in 2015. The curriculum is currently in the active planning stages. Final determinations about admissions will await the arrival of the new Dean. More details about applications and prerequisite coursework will be available later in 2014.


Why are students from both UTB and UTPA being left out in the cold? Why aren't we getting opportunities to make suggestions about the new university? I haven't seen anything on UTB or UTPA's websites or anything around campus asking for our input.

Actually, students have been serving on many of the workgroups for the last six months, student surveys have been conducted, and there have been several student forums and meetings with the local campus presidents, administrators and even the Chancellor of the UT System. Both UTPA and UTB websites have links to where extensive reports on the progress of the working groups, a weekly newsletter and an Ask A Question facility allows anyone to find out what's going on directly and pose individual questions anonymously.


Will the Engineering Technology UTB program continue in UTRGV?

It is too early to know much detail about when and how programs will be offered at UTRGV. More details should be available by September 2014.


Perhaps this has been asked before but will ask again- Will tenured faculty at UTB & UTPA have tenure at UTRGV? (Please note that we have received many questions about tenure over the last three weeks all of which can be answered with this response)

The establishment of UTRGV as a new university and the abolishment of UTB and UTPA creates an anomaly with regard to the question of current tenured and tenure-track faculty that is not covered by the present Regents Rules. UT System is working on a proposed policy for consideration by the Board of Regents that addresses this unique situation and we will share the information as soon as it is available.


Will UTRGV be an EEO employer and will that legislation be enforced? Heretofore, the standard operating procedure is that "things are done differently in academia". If there is a notice that UTB is an EEO employer, the expectations of all is that the law be followed every time. Does the Chancelor agree to that and will that be a primary goal in the selection process for all positions?

It is Board of Regents' policy that alll UT institutions are unequivocally Equal Opportunity Employers.


Why are all questions submitted not answered?

We are mindful of the importance of providing accurate and responsive answers as soon as we can, but there are some questions for which we have no answers now. For that same reason, some questions have taken longer to answer than others. Some questions submitted have been previously answered and a few are not related to UTRGV.


When do you anticipate that UTPA and UTB equivalent offices will begin to work with each other to consolidate services? Or, will each campus continue to function separately?

UTHSCSA, UTPA and UTB equivalent offices are already working together with our consultants and UT System administration to transition their functions' implementation to UTRGV. At present, 22 Project Management Groups comprised of leadership from each of these entities are designing the implementation plan, with each step and task specified and scheduled, to be ready for launch as soon as the official start-up date for UTRGV has been designated. All administrative, academic administrative and service functions will operate out of the central UTRGV administration and applied identically across all offices, instructional sites and campuses. Campuses will not continue to work separately.


The high school students who are seniors in 2015 can apply to the university's new Md program? Is it a six year course?

Students entering college in the fall of 2015 will be eligible to apply to the APRIME pre-health professions program in the Valley. Under current plans, they would be able to apply for early medical school admission in the spring of 2017 to start medical school in the fall of 2018. Medical school options for these students may include UT-Houston, UTMB in Galveston, or the new medical school at UTRGV.


Right now there are three different police departments making sure our campuses are safe (UT PAN AM POLICE, UT BROWNSVILLE POLICE and UT HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER at SAN ANTONIO POLICE). How will all locations be secure for the entire Rio Grande Valley?

Planning is underway to create a single police department, with a single regional organizational structure reporting to a Chief of Police. The new campus police department will embrace the guiding principles and values of UTRGV and UT System Police in an organization that effectively and efficiently provides law enforcement and public safety services to the uniquely different medical and academic environments that simultaneously comprise the new university. The new police department will be supported by proven technology including interoperable, regional police communications, facility security/access control and electronic parking systems. The new structure, components and mission is being developed using best evidence-based practices reflected in university law enforcement which will best serve and protect the three or more geographic campus locations now being anticipated.


When will jobs get posted for utrgv

More details about how UTRGV will be organized emerge later this summer but the decision about when to post new positions has not yet been made.


"The UT System envisions a Tier One Research University for the Rio Grande Valley." What is a Tier One Research University? How does a university achieve this status?

The Regents envision an "Emerging Research University” for the Rio Grande Valley, which the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Boarded defines as follows: Emerging Research Universities are educational, scientific, engineering, business and cultural resource centers committed to the three-fold mission of teaching, research and service. As universities with extensive educational programs, academic efforts are directed to applied and basic research in selected fields, teaching and scholarship, and creative activities. The universities encourage faculty members to be active researchers/creators in their respective disciplines and to involve both undergraduate and graduate students in research and creative pursuits. Emerging Research universities are expected to: Offer a comprehensive range of excellent undergraduate and graduate programs; Award at least 30 PhD degrees annually, based on a rolling average of two consecutive years of degree production; Generate at least 20% of the research universities’ criteria for restricted research expenditures (20% of $150 million, adjusted for inflation), as determined by a rolling two-year average.


The consolidation of the existing Harlingen and Edinburg Regional Academic Health Centers (RAHC) of the UT Health Sciences Center in San Antonio with the soon to be constructed new medical school building, next to the RAHC in Edinburg, will also take up much of Dr. Fernandez’ time, once he starts on April 28....why is Brownsville being left out as always in this?

The purpose of campus consolidation is to increase the system’s overall effectiveness in creating better educational opportunities. For example, consider the developments in the psychiatry program. While it is being developed at the Harlingen campus of the RAHC, the Valley Baptist Behavioral Health Facility in Brownsville will be the main training site. This institution will serve the entire region and Brownsville is certainly a major player.


Where could I contact Dr. Francisco Fernandez to make a suggestion? I'd like to speak with him personally over the phone. Is there a time when he will be visiting UT-Pan American in the month of March or April?

Dr. Fernandez plans to be on site after April 28, 2014. Until then he can be reached through .


Why is all of the news about UTRGV centered around the medical school? There will be a lot more students at the academic campuses than in the med school. I would like to see the focus be on everyone not just a few med school students.

Most likely, the recent news media focus on the medical school is an artifact of the recent events, particularly the appointment of the new Dean of the Medical School and the commencement of construction of one of its key buildings. Meanwhile, the study, design and organization of the overall university proceeds without as much attention. This will change as all these activities begin to evolve into events of greater interest to the press: the selection of the president; announcement about the organization structure; siting of the headquarters; and other events of interest to the general public.


I realize only MD degrees will be offered from the new medical school; however, as an aspiring Orthopedic Surgeon, I was wondering if the new medical school will offer a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree sometime in the near future.

Osteopathic physicians are trained in programs accredited by different agencies. As such, the School of Medicine will only offer MD degrees. Residency training following medical school is changing. Currently, osteopaths get their training after DO school in programs approved by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). By 2015, all AOA residencies will also have American College of Graduate Medical Education accreditation. Of course, all new programs must be approved by the Board of Regents.


Since the new medical school will be part of TMDSAS for the application process, will the education requirements for application be the same? I am planning to apply after finishing my Bachelor of Science at UTPA and want to know what to expect during the application process.

It is too early to say at present.


What is the reasoning behind Provost Rodriguez's insistence that the faculty working groups refrain from suggesting academic structures similar to those that have been proven effective at UTPA and/or UTB? This has seemed odd, to say the least, since he began repeating phrases such as, "if it looks like what we currently have, then we have failed." Can you explain the rationale behind this strong push?

The Board of Regents have from the beginning envisioned a 21st Century University for the Rio Grande Valley that would be based upon the guiding principles which describe a major departure from the traditional university as we know it. The faculty working groups and others have been asked to "think out of the box" in their considerations for a design of this new and innovative university. For that reason it is believed to be more helpful if the previous structures be de-emphasized in that new design thinking.


Regarding the UTRGV SIS system implementation, why is UTRGV being added as a second business with UT Permian Basin? Would this limit the ability of the new university to customize their SIS system to meet their own specific needs if they differ from UT Permian Basin? Are there plans to eventually place the Peoplesoft SIS System implementation for UTRGV in its own business unit separated for UT Permian Basin? What are the disadvantages and advantages of having the SIS system for UTRGV be tied so closely with UT Permian Basin as a secondary business unit?

PeopleSoft will accommodate separate multiple institutions on one software "instance" (single database) and allow us to leverage commonality and standards where applicable and necessary. UTRGV will be added to the shared instance, as a unique business unit, with the HR and Finance systems along with the other 6 institutions implementing. This is a shared services Student Information System implementation following the same methodology and governance as our other UTShare ERP implementations. We expect to add more business units as more institutions have a need to upgrade their SIS. The advantages to this approach have been recognized since 2006 and include leveraging common best practices across multiple institutions, realizing economies of scale, and standardizing reporting and common definitions across the system


Is the new University planning to offer a PHD for Psychology? There is a huge necessity of PHds professionals in Psychiatry in the Valley. I graduated last year with a Bachelors in Psychology and throughout my years at UTPA I have heard so many people from the Psychology Faculty and students saying how UTPA has been talking about bringing in a Psychology PHD for the last 13 years.

A working group has recommended a PhD in clinical Psychology; the programmatic decisions for psychology have not yet been made. We expect to have more detail for you by the end of the summer. A proposal would need to be submitted to both the UT System Board of Regents and the Coordinating Board for approval of any new degree program. There is no further information about when or if such a proposal will be going forward at this time.


From my understanding the dean for the new Medical School will be Dr. Francisco Fernandez , a well known psychiatrist and neuroscience professor. Is there any possibilities A medical program for Psychiatry might at least be considered for UTRGV?

Yes it is considered. Psychiatry is a core discipline required for accreditation of all medical schools. There are plans underway for a training program specifically for psychiatric physicians at the Valley Baptist Behavioral Health Facility.


Will there be a Pharmacy program or only programs for doctors?

The UT Austin College of Pharmacy, in cooperation with UTPA offers a six-year curriculum leading to the "Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)" degree. The PharmD degree is the sole entry-level degree offered in the Unites States for those interested in becoming a licensed pharmacist. Students enrolled in the program when UTRGV is launched will be able to finish their original program. The Board of Regents has not yet approved the programs for UTRGV but is expected to do so later this summer.


What minors will be offered at UTRGV? Will UTRGV offer a minor in mathematics? I am currently a UTB student, and UTB does really offer a variety of minors like UTPA does.

Yes, we anticipate that UTRGV students will have access to a variety of minors to complement their chosen area of study. We do not yet know which minors UTRGV will offer but the full UTRGV program array has been in design for some time and is nearing completion.  The plan is to recommend a list of UTRGV degree programs to The UT System Board of Regents in May 2014, followed by a request for approval by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in July 2014.


Can you please provide the link to the working group reports and executive summaries mentioned in the Q&A.

Will there be a presidential scholarship that pays for all your tuition and housing in UTRGV as like there was in UTPA? If there is, will a 28 on the ACT make me a competitive student? I was also wondering about the A-Prime Time program at UTPA, will it still be offered in UTRGV?

Students who currently receive scholarships from UTPA and UTB will continue to receive these scholarships at UTRGV, for the timeframe and requirements specified for their scholarship.  There will be new scholarships with a variety of qualifications developed by UTRGV for its new students in 2015.    A 28 on the ACT does indeed make you a competitive student.


What are the names of degrees being offered?

The names of the degree programs that UTRGV will offer has not yet been determined. The plan is to recommend a list of UTRGV degree programs to The UT System Board of Regents in May 2014, followed by a request for approval by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in July 2014.


Will we have a law school?  We need a law school!

There are no plans for a law school at UTRGV at this time.


Who will be working on the rebranding and marketing  efforts/strategy for the new university? Is this being done in-house or  outsourced to a communication/marketing group?

Task Force made up of System External Relations representatives and marketing/admissions representatives from both campuses is currently working on the promotion (and transitional promotion) of UTRGV. 


Many professors who teach in Spanish are not proficient in Spanish.  Many professors who teach in English are not proficient in English either.  What will the new school do to address this terrible problem?

One of the goals for UTRGV is to produce graduates who are bi-cultural, bi-lingual, and bi-literate.  Proficiency in communication in more than one language will be an aspirational goal for both faculty and students. UTRGV’s main focus is heightened levels of student success. Thus, UTRGV will employ professors and personnel who can communicate well.


I have noticed many people mispronounce "Rio Grande" as "Rio Grand" or Rio Grandee"; since UTRGV is a "Higher Education" institution, I believe it should strive to educate us all, starting as to how to properly pronounce its name…  Are there any plans to address this issue as part of the marketing efforts for the new university?

The challenge is that there are several common pronunciations of Rio Grande.  They may differ depending on one’s first language; that is, some use a Spanish pronunciation, others use English, and still others may use a local pronunciation. Ideally the speaker is adept enough to use the convention of the listener, but that will be the case only after we attain the goal of a bi-cultural, bi-lingual, and bi-literate Valley.


As cited previously, Regents' Rule 31006 is not being used at UTB for faculty workloads.  Instead, faculty are being subjected to a draft document that supposedly has been sent to UT System for approval.  In the implementation of that document by the leadership grouup, graduate faculty are given undergraduate credit for graduate courses based on an established arbitrary headcount.  Is that the new trend and will UTRGV follow that same methodology?

UTRGV will follow Regents established rules.


A practice implemented by UTB during the UTB/TSC dissolution was to impose criteria relevant to "terminal degree in discipline" as a way to dismiss faculty, even tenured faculty.  The rationale was based on literal translation of SACS' rules.  However, we also know that SACS will allow for content justification.  Will the UTB impression of that SACS rule be applied for faculty reduction in the new UTRGV?

All UTB and UTPA academic and administrative policies are under study currently. It is not possible at this time to provide an answer to this question other that UTRGV will comply with UT Regents and SACS policies © 2014 The University of Texas System.
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