Cárdenas takes center stage at annual Fall Convocation
Posted: 08/20/2004
Share |

For her debut as president of the fifth largest university in The University of Texas System, Dr. Blandina "Bambi" Cárdenas, the first woman leader of The University of Texas-Pan American, took center stage at the 2004 Fall Convocation Friday, Aug. 20 at the Student Union Theatre.

Dr. Blandina "Bambi" Cárdenas, new UTPA president, addresses staff and faculty during the 2004 Fall Convocation Aug. 20 at the Student Union Theatre.
Cárdenas addressed a standing room-only crowd of staff and faculty on the future of UTPA and stressed to them the importance of working together as a team to make UTPA a great University.

"Over the course of this time in which we will be challenged with what we do, we will set our expectations higher and we are going to do so in a spirit of respect and appreciation. We will honor the work that has gone here before, we will honor the traditions of this University and we will honor its growing efforts," Cárdenas said.

During her speech, she asked the faculty and staff to help her accomplish the "next piece of your legacy."

"I think together we can set the foundation for an institution that will make extraordinary contributions not only to this community, but to the state and the nation," she said.

To welcome Cárdenas to her new home was outgoing President Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez, who attended his 24th and final Convocation of his career as UT Pan American president. He told the audience it's a rare occasion that they would hear from both University presidents at this annual event that opens the fall semester for UTPA personnel.

"Although my time is running out fast on the UTPA clock, for the past few weeks we've been in a period of transition and in keeping with that spirit you will hear from two presidents at this convocation. This might not happen again for a long time," Nevárez said.

Nevárez said the selection of Cárdenas for the presidency was the best decision for UTPA and he knows the campus will be successful with her at the helm.

Pictured are Cárdenas and outgoing UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez posing for photos after the Fall Convocation.
"After 76 years, she not only becomes the seventh president of this institution, but she's the first woman president of UTPA," Nevárez said. "If you'll remember a year ago at convocation I told you it was time for a person with new ideas and new energy, and I will leave here next week knowing UTPA is in good hands."

During her address, Cárdenas discussed the University's projections for student enrollment, the quest to become a doctoral research institution, and the importance of service, teaching and research collaborations at the University.

"I believe the next decades will be defined by partnerships, collaboration and cooperation. We will have to engage in partnerships and collaborations across the University and external to the University," she said.

As UTPA president, she also plans to create systems of reward for faculty who collaborate with each other within the department, college and across campus. Cárdenas said by the year 2030, she sees the University population growing to 45,000 students, which she said will make UTPA the second largest institution in the UT System.

In the next five years, Cárdenas said she would like to see the University become an a "A" rated campus by the standards of the Washington Advisory Group (WAG), an independent consulting group, hired by The University of Texas System to review research capabilities at its academic institutions.

Above, Cárdenas mingles with members of the UTPA community after the convocation.
"One of the things I didn't tell you about me is that I believe in acting with a sense of urgency. You don't wait until all the stars are aligned; you make the stars align. You act with a sense of urgency and I can tell you that if we're going to move into the direction that we want we've got to move to that 'A' status within the next five years. Now this is where the challenge is," Cárdenas said.

Cárdenas said for the next few months she will be meeting with staff, faculty and students on campus to listen to their needs and goals for the future of the University.

"For the next two months I'm not going to be doing a lot of talking, I'm going to be doing a lot of listening. So today I want you to understand who this woman 'Bambi' Cárdenas is," she said."First of all you need to know this person named 'Bambi' is a tough administrator. The fundamental responsibility of a president is to be steward of the resources and the reputation of the institution they lead. I have inherited an institution with resources and an excellent reputation and I am going to administer and manage in a way that preserves that reputation, enhances the resources and ensures that every single bit of efficiency that we can find is put to the benefit of our students and faculty."