The University of Texas-Pan American was recently named one of 15 finalists for the second annual Texas Higher Education Star Award - which recognizes Texas higher education institutes working toward closing the educational gaps that challenge the state.
The award - established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board - recognizes the University Scholars Program at UTPA. The program provides full four-year tuition and fee scholarships to qualified incoming freshmen.
To date, the program is assisting more than 160 students in receiving and paying for the continuation of their higher education said UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez.
"The University Scholars Program encourages students to take a recommended curriculum at the high school level to begin preparation for college," Nevárez said. "It also encourages students to start their college careers while they are still in high school." UTPA was chosen as a finalist from a pool of 83 applicants.
To receive the award, a program, project or activity must make an outstanding contribution toward the goals established in the Closing the Gaps by 2015 plan - which has four higher education goals: to close the gaps in participation, to close the gaps in success, to close the gaps in excellence and to close the gaps in research.
Under the plan, the University must increase enrollment to 26,047 by 2015.
"The University's fall enrollment of 14,391 surpassed the projection for 2005 as set by the Coordinating Board by more than 300 students and we are well on our way to meeting our 2005 Closing the Gap enrollment projection of 16,405 students," said Nevárez.
The award winners will be announced at the Coordinating Board's quarterly meeting on Thursday, Oct. 24.
"The Star Award recognizes the programs and people who represent the state's best efforts at closing the educational gaps that we face," said Commissioner of Higher Education Don Brown. "We need to enroll hundreds of thousands more students in college, and we need to make sure they succeed there in high quality academic programs."
Other finalists include Baylor College of Medicine, Del Mar College; Lamar University; Prairie View A&M University; San Jacinto College-North Campus; Southwest Texas State University; Texas A&M University-Kingsville; Texas Woman's University; Tomball College; The University of Texas at Arlington; The University of Texas at El Paso; The University of Texas at San Antonio; and University of North Texas.
Today, UTPA is home to more than 14,000 students and 1,500 faculty and staff members. Since it opened 1927, UTPA not only has increased its enrollment and academic offerings but also broadened its role and scope to become the gateway to higher education for thousands of Rio Grande Valley residents.