Faculty list some academic opportunities - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Faculty list some academic opportunities

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Posted: Saturday, March 15, 2014 10:00 pm

The executive summary detailing the reports by the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley academic program working groups paints a picture of a new university rife with opportunities in vast disciplines. 

The Project South Texas working groups, which include faculty from both the University of Texas-Pan American and UT Brownsville, met for months to list their dream programs for UTRGV, which will be a regional South Texas university and will lead to the abolishment of the two separate universities. The groups were also asked to brainstorm the academic program’s structural organizations.

Most of the 15 academic program groups agreed that the new university should preserve the programs already in place at UTB and UTPA.

“Existing programs build on faculty strengths; maintain the integrity of the tenure process with faculty appropriately trained to assess the contributions of probationary faculty; and, above all, ensure that

graduating students who wish to pursue advanced studies elsewhere are not hindered in their access to traditional programs,” the social sciences section of the report states.

The doctoral program group was enlisted to point out the immediate opportunities for doctoral programs. The group reported that the school would be in a good position to offer doctoral degrees in border studies, developmental education, nursing practice, pharmacy and environmental science and biology.

Members also suggested a regional need for a doctorate in manufacturing engineering and mathematics.

In one case, the professors who worked on the health professions section decided no new programs should be implemented in 2015 when UTRGV is scheduled to open.

Between UTPA and UTB, 27 different disciplines would need to be merged.

“However, it is possible to initiate several interdisciplinary courses,” the report said.

The report also cited a need for faculty to include the community within programs. For example, the social sciences group recommends that students be required to participate in internships to accomplish such a goal.

The group in charge of the community and public service report additionally recommended: “In an attempt to promote community engagement, a center with a focus of coordinating this effort should be supported. This should be interdisciplinary in nature and cut across the institution utilizing the expertise from the various disciplines.”

Faculty from the education group instructed that the richness of this region’s culture should be a direct part of the new school’s academics.

“The committee highly values the linguistic strengths of bilingual students in the Rio Grande Value and believes the new university must capitalize on this strength,” the report states.

These reports make recommendations for the next 10 to 15 years for UTRGV, but the ideas in the report are not finalized. They’ve been published on both schools’ websites in order to let faculty review the suggestions.

The University of Texas System intends to hold town hall meetings in the coming weeks at both institutions to gather faculty members’ opinions and suggestions, UT System officials have said.

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