After a 10 month search, The University of Texas System Board of Regents has named Dr. Blandina Cardenas, dean of the College of Education and Human Development (COEHD) at The University of Texas at San Antonio, as the new leader and first female Hispanic president of The University of Texas-Pan American Monday, June 21.
Cardenas, a professor of educational leadership, was unanimously selected from among six finalists to succeed UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez, who announced in August 2003 he was stepping down after serving the institution for more than 32 years.
The appointment was made during a public vote by the UT System Board of Regents in Austin and web cast simultaneously at the International Trade and Technology Building on the UTPA campus with staff, faculty and reporters present.
"I'm very excited and very grateful to the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System for giving me this opportunity. It is indeed a gift to be able to work with faculty, staff, students, the development board and the community of the Rio Grande Valley to make UT Pan American all that I know that Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez has worked to make it become, all that the students of the Rio Grande Valley deserve and all that the business, civic and social community of the Rio Grande Valley have the right to expect of a great University," Cardenas said.
Cardenas, 59, joins two other female presidents in the UT System including Dr. Juliet V. Garcia of The University of Texas at Brownsville and Dr. Diana S. Natalicio of The University of Texas at El Paso.
As president of UT Pan American, Cardenas said she plans to take the University to the next level and expand the number and variety of doctoral programs; serve and graduate more students; and create partnerships with financial supporters and other institutions to bring the necessary attention to the Valley and to strengthen its economy.
Cardenas, who starts in September, said she looks forward to the new challenge and making the Valley her new home.
As dean, Cardenas has led UTSA's newly established COEHD to excellence, including raising the pass rates for teacher certification exams to 97 percent; introducing new standards-based programs; generating more than $8 million in external funding; and developing strong partnerships with San Antonio's inner-city schools.
In addition to faculty positions at UTSA and Texas State University at San Marcos, Cardenas has served in a number of organizations focused on multiculturalism, education, and families: director of the Hispanic Research Center at UTSA (1999-2000); director of Office of Minorities in Higher Education, American Council on Education (1989-1992); member, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1980-1992); and chief of the Children's Bureau and commissioner of the Administration for Children, Youth and Families in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (1977-1999).
Nevárez, who was attending a Congressional Conference in Washington D.C., sent best wishes to Cardenas and said he had confidence that the best was yet to come for UT Pan American.
"This University is poised for doctoral research status and in reach of national prominence. Dr. Cardenas faces an enormous challenge in moving UTPA forward and we want her to succeed. To that end, I encourage you to support this new administration - as I have pledged to do. Remember that success for Dr. Cardenas will mean success for our students, our University and the entire Rio Grande Valley," Nevárez said.
Cardenas will visit the campus Tuesday, June 22, to meet with UTPA administrators, staff, students and Valley legislators. The UTPA community will have an opportunity to meet Cardenas during a forum at the Student Union Auditorium at 2 p.m., followed by a press conference at 3 p.m.