The University of Texas at Brownsville will continue its last year as an independent university without a key person — Juliet V. Garcia.
The UTB president will leave her position on Aug. 31 to begin a year of planning for the UT Institute of the Americas, where she will serve as executive director.
Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa announced the creation of the new institute and Garcia’s appointment Tuesday evening and said it will focus on developing the next generation of leadership. It will be rooted in the values of a democratic society and will provide a non-partisan venue for convening discussions of critical issues with global significance, he said in a press release.
Officials said the structure of this school will be similar to the Aspen Institute, which is an educational and policy studies organization whose mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues.
“If you look at the history of the Aspen Institute, it started out with just a beautiful location, a place where you start to think freely and without constraints and with vision,” Garcia said. “Sometimes, a sense of place determines your thinking and how we act.”
Garcia said that the Rio Grande Valley is a destination location. With the outdoors advantages and the access to South Padre Island, geographically, the Valley is an ideal location for this type of institution.
Garcia said the UT Institute of the Americas is a place to convene important discussion, to bring people together in environments that are insulated and protected and provide for innovative thought.
“I like to build. I like to create. I also can manage,” Garcia said of her skills honed during her 22 years as president of UTB.
“I have three more months as president here,” Garcia said. “Sept. 1, I start a year of planning and developing the model. So, I have to think about where it’s going to be. Will it have a headquarters? If so, what it will look like. And then I have to start developing the curriculum and the program offerings, and then I have to launch it.”
The institute is expected to open September 2015. It is unclear of the details as to who will continue Garcia’s day-to-day duties in the upcoming academic year. Guy Bailey is also doing a year of planning for University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.