Dr. Martha A. Cantu became Vice President for Student Affairs on January 17, 2012 after having served as acting vice president for student affairs since March 2011. She is a proud UTPA alumna who received her bachelor, master and doctoral degrees from The University of Texas-Pan American. Prior to becoming a member of the President’s Cabinet, Dr. Cantu was the director of UTPA’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). The UTPA GEAR UP Project was the second largest grant in the nation and under Dr. Cantu’s leadership was recognized nationally as a model of best practices by the U.S. Secretary of Education. She provided congressional testimony in Washington, D.C. to the Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness Subcommittee concerning the effect of GEAR UP on college preparation. Dr. Cantu’s professional experience at UTPA began over twelve years ago as an adjunct faculty member teaching graduate classes in the College of Education at UT Pan American.
Her passion for students began in 1985 as an educator in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District and as the director of Special Education for the McAllen Independent School District. Her extensive professional working experience with principals and superintendents in the Rio Grande Valley K-12 school districts is an important component of the University’s outreach efforts in the Valley. She is actively involved with the P-16 Council and UTPA’s Leadership Alliance.
Since becoming part of the University’s administration, she has been proactive in many efforts aimed at improving the processes and procedures required for UTPA students to succeed in their journey to receive their bachelor’s degree in four years.