UTPA's Dr. Ana Maria Rodriguez named Academic Fellow by The University of Texas System
Posted: 12/11/2006
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The University of Texas System Office of Academic Affairs has announced the appointment of Dr. Ana Maria Rodriguez, newly named senior vice provost for Undergraduate Studies, Academic Assessment, and Retention at The University of Texas-Pan American, as its first Academic Fellow to work on a new initiative to enhance faculty leadership development within the UT System.

Rodriguez, a 33-year employee at UTPA, will serve as an Academic Fellow from Nov. 1, 2006 to Aug. 31, 2007 and work with the UT System Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the UT System Faculty Advisory Council and colleagues from the nine academic institutions on creating and implementing the initiative.

- Dr. Ana Maria Rodriguez
"Personally, I feel very honored that the UT System has deemed me worthy of this appointment as the first fellow. Also, I feel very proud that the first one is going to UT Pan American because I think it shows that the System recognizes the fact that there is leadership at UTPA to help move it forward," said Rodriguez, who as an Academic Fellow will spend 10 to 15 percent of her time in Austin and be provided a $20,000 academic enhancement fund to use for appropriate research and educational purposes.

According to Dr. Geri H. Malandra, interim executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs for the UT System, fellows in Academic or Health Affairs are occasionally appointed by the UT System to help provide specialized leadership for specific, high-priority strategic initiatives.

"Academic leadership is a critical element in the ability of campuses to increase faculty research productivity, quality of academic programs, rankings, and development of creative approaches to managing campuses more effectively and efficiently," Malandra said. "Dr. Rodriguez was selected as an Academic Fellow because of her extensive experience developing and implementing academic leadership improvement initiatives at UT Pan American, as well as her experience working on issues that affect research, curriculum, and institutional management."

Rodriguez, a native of Mirando City, Texas, began her career as a junior high school teacher after earning her bachelor's degree in secondary education from then Texas College of Arts and Industries in Kingsville. She subsequently earned her Master of Education majoring in guidance and counseling from Pan American University, now UTPA, and then her doctorate in education from the University of Houston. Rodriguez joined Pan American University as the assistant director of the PAUTA Federal Training project in 1973.

While at UTPA, Rodriguez has served as an assistant and associate professor in guidance and counseling in the College of Education and in increasingly responsible academic administrative positions. From 1994-2001, she was the coordinator of the Counselor Education Program and chair of the Department of Educational Psychology. From 2001 to 2006, she served as the associate vice president for Undergraduate Studies and from March 2006 until August 2006 filled the position of interim provost/vice president for Academic Affairs. In November 2006 Rodriguez was appointed by new UTPA Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Paul Sale as the senior vice provost for Undergraduate Studies, Academic Assessment and Retention.

In recent years, Rodriguez has successfully implemented several new programs and tools to address student retention and assessment such as the Learning Framework and Learning Communities courses as well as a regular system of assessment of student learning.

UTPA President Dr. Blandina Cárdenas said she was thrilled for Rodriguez and the University.

"The System scored a home run by asking Dr. Rodriguez to serve in this capacity. She not only knows how to lead, she knows what it takes to form leaders of integrity. Mirando City's favorite daughter should have been a college president," Cárdenas said.

Upon meeting with Malandra and her staff, Rodriguez said one of the first things to be accomplished is to define the scope and the elements of the leadership development initiative. An advisory committee of one representative nominated by each university president in the UT System will also be formed soon to provide input and help implement the initiative.

"The ultimate purpose is to provide an opportunity for faculty and department chairs within the UT components to develop the skills to assume leadership positions within the components and the UT system. This will be the next cadre of leaders within the UT System," she said, citing creative thinking, strategic planning, conflict resolution and interpersonal skills among the many developed by successful leaders.

"When we talk about leadership development we think about knowledge and skills that help a person discover his or her ability to envision what can be. They are able to begin with the end in mind," Rodriguez said.