UTPA creates new department to address admissions
Posted: 03/15/2005
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With new admissions requirements on the horizon, The University of Texas-Pan American recently created a new department - the Office of Undergraduate Admissions - that will deal exclusively with undergraduate admissions.

The department, which was once the Office of Admissions and Records, is now split into the Office of Records and Registration and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

"The planned phase-in of increased admissions standards necessitates the development of this office," Norma Gonzalez, associate director of admissions, said. "Currently, the admissions policy is written in a manner that pretty much assured automatic admission for UTPA applicants."

That will change starting fall 2005.

Currently an entering freshman who either (a) graduates in the top 25 percent of his or her class, or (b) completes a recommended high school program (RHSP) or higher, or (c) achieves a minimum ACT score of 20 (SAT 930) is accepted for unconditional admission. Under the present terms, all other applicants are admitted to the University under the Provisional Enrollment Program, which will be eliminated fall 2005 when the new admissions standards take effect. The new admissions criteria will be enforced over a period of six years.

In fall 2005, the University will require a minimum ACT score of 15. The minimum required ACT score will increase by one point every two years, until it reaches 18 for the fall 2011 semester. Starting fall 2007, all applicants must graduate with a RHSP diploma or equivalent.

"When you start implementing admissions standards like we are, you need to have a contact point where someone can answer questions that arise," Dennis McMillan, associate vice president for Enrollment and Student Services, said. "The new office was developed as a means to talk to prospective students and their families."

McMillan and Gonzalez agree the changes will benefit the University in many ways and will result in better academically prepared students enrolling at UTPA.

"It will improve retention rates by bringing in only those students who are more academically prepared," McMillan said.

The more rigorous criteria will also raise the perception of the institution in the community, state and nation, he said.

"With the new higher academic standards, we will be able to attract better students, faculty and top-notch researchers," McMillan said.

The admissions office personnel works closely with prospective and applied students, parents, high school counselors, in addition to other colleges and universities to effectively communicate UTPA's undergraduate admissions policies and procedures, Gonzalez said.

"This will be an important step forward in the growth of UTPA and it will take all of us to effectively communicate the reorganization and the changes in our undergraduate admission policies," Gonzalez said. "The Office of Undergraduate Admissions is committed to providing the highest quality of service to all new (entering freshmen and transfer) and returning undergraduate students."

Gonzalez, who will head the new department, said she will continue to work closely with the Office of Records and Registration as well as the Office of New Student and Visitor Services.

The new undergraduate admissions office is located on the third floor of the Student Services Building, while the records and registration office is temporarily located in the Xotchil Room next to the cafeteria while renovations for its permanent location are underway.