The second of six candidates for the presidency of The University of Texas-Pan American was interviewed Friday April 30 on campus. Dr. Tim Hudson, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at the University of Southern Mississippi and executive director of the Center for International and Continuing Education at USM, spent the day following an intensive and thorough interview schedule that each candidate has and will follow as part of the adopted presidential selection process.
Following a breakfast meeting with the deans, Hudson toured the campus and then met with select campus groups including the staff and faculty senates and a luncheon with student leaders. Before an evening reception that included alumni, community leaders and advisory board and UTPA Foundation Board members and a dinner with invited Rio Grande Valley community leaders, Hudson participated in a 90-minute open forum comprised of candidate remarks and a question and answer session before all campus constituencies - staff members, faculty, students - as well as alumni and the media. An evaluation form is provided at the forum for each audience member that will be returned sealed to The University of Texas System Board of Regents.
"This University is poised for national prominence. You have an opportunity to serve in the terms of economic development, you have an opportunity to connect more effectively to the leadership of this region, you have an opportunity to transform lives of students that if you weren't here would never have that opportunity," he said.
Hudson, a first generation graduate, said his life long interest in international education was sparked early on by a Western Civilization course taught by an inspiring teacher.
"It transformed the way I thought about higher education, knowledge and my responsibilities and connections to the rest of the world. That was a beginning of a journey up to today that has led to an appreciation of, respect for, involvement in and a love affair with the Latin American and Hispanic culture," he said. Hudson won a fellowship to study in Columbia living with a family and traveled extensively all over that part of the world.
Under Hudson's leadership, USM has developed a wide ranging and nationally ranked international education program. He has implemented more than 40 study abroad programs worldwide including the British Studies Program, the largest credit abroad program operated by any U.S. university in London; the Abbet Program in France; Spanish language programs in Mexico and Spain; a pioneering Cuban Studies Program; and the award-winning Vietnam Studies Program. USM will be opening a new $8 million Center of International Education in the center of campus this summer.
Hudson highlighted numerous other accomplishments at his University since 1985 when he first returned to serve there.
"In the last 15 years our college has gone from a teacher's college to a Carnegie research extensive university. Our outside funding has gone from $5 million to $8 million this year. We have developed five new Ph.D. programs in the past seven years and this year we will graduate 140 to 150 Ph.D.'s in 21 separate fields. So I am familiar with where you (UTPA) are and the opportunities you have on the horizon," he said.
He also said that USM has created more than 1,000 online courses and two online degree programs in the last five years.
Addressing a question about the University's goal of becoming a doctoral research institution, Hudson said there has to be a consensus value that you want to go in that direction and not just for the category title.
"You need to value this because of what it brings to the students, faculty and your community. Universities can be economic development engines for regions like this. You also have to develop incentive programs for faculty to engage in research," he said.
Hudson said a university can play an important role in economic development for an area.
"A university is very important for quality of life indicators, very healthy for economic development. The University is going to play an increasingly important role in taking knowledge from the laboratory to the marketplace."
Dr. Angelica Cortes, associate professor of international business, who asked several questions at the forum, said she liked what she heard from Hudson.
"He looks like a good leader. He has vision. I think he has the capacity to make the connection between the University and the community, something I don't feel we have at this time. In my opinion, the University is isolated from the community. He has concentrated in economic development for his region and area and I think this would bring us together - the community as part of the University and the University as part of the community."
Cortes also said Hudson appeared to have a management style she preferred.
"From what I see, his management style is that of working with consensus and alliances, of having everyone on board and making them responsible for the task. I like that," she said.
A native Mississippian, Hudson graduated Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor's in history and Latin American studies from Southern Mississippi in 1975 and received his master's in geography in 1977. He earned his doctorate in geography from Clark University in Worcester, Mass. He has received an ITT International Fellowship to Columbia and two Fulbright Fellowships in Germany and Mexico and was awarded an honorary doctorate by London Guildhall University for his lifelong contributions to international education, global understanding and economic development.
Hudson also recently interviewed for the presidency of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.
"The paths, the journeys - the one this institution has been on and has been built on and the way my professional and personal life has been growing in intensity level in family and the exposure we are determined to give our children in terms of multiculturalism and the important role this University can play on the national scene is the sort of confluence I have been looking for," Hudson said.