Dr. Lynda de la Viña, the sixth presidential finalist and associate dean and director of the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education at John Hopkins University, visited The University of Texas-Pan American May 13.
De la Viña immediately outlined her plans to take the University to the next level. She discussed her vision to capitalize on the University's location and unique position as the University of the Americas.
"We are not The University of Texas-Edinburg or The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. We are The University of Texas-Pan American - the University of the Americas," De la Viña said. "To implement this will be difficult, but we are poised to be this. Our future is defined by our past. There is no other component of the UT System that is the University for all Americas. That is going to bring us the national and international attention we deserve."
De la Viña gave clear examples of how UTPA could achieve her vision through the establishment of articulation agreements with schools in Mexico, Latin and South America. She discussed having representatives from UTPA involved in international organizations and she emphasized that it is important to have a vision that the University as a whole shares to achieve this status.
"We need to have the confidence in ourselves that our children can compete. Leadership provides hope. Passion, investment and commitment is necessary," De la Viña said. "You also need a plan that is done together and have an agreement on the vision."
De la Viña outlined her view of development within the University as one that both the academic and economic development sides need to work together to achieve.
When asked about the pressure to improve retention at the expense of academic standards, De la Viña said students need to meet high standards in order to compete globally, but they are not in opposition.
"Academic standards are what you are and what you believe in, but we should have programs for students to help them to succeed in meeting those standards. I don't believe in this sink or swim philosophy," De la Viña said.
De la Viña's goal is to get the University the recognition it deserves and strategically position it as the University for the Americas. Ultimately, as De la Viña expressed it, "We need to tell our story and our vision" to everyone.