The University of Texas-Pan American welcomed Kyle Kalkwarf, The University of Texas System student regent, during his stop Dec. 8 in his tour of the 15 institutions that make up the UT System.
He was recently appointed to the UT System Board of Regents by Governor Rick Perry for a one year term that began on June 1, 2010, in which he will serve as a voice for students with an aim of discussing and solving the issues students find most important with the Board of Regents.
Kalkwarf who served in the U.S. Army for five years, spent 19 months in the Middle East. He also earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the United States Military Academy at West Point and is currently a four-year medical student at The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Kalkwarf has also served two years on the UT System Advisory Council.
"The purpose of his visit is for him to understand the uniqueness of our University," said Alex Rodriguez, UTPA Student Government Association (SGA) president. "His purpose as student regent is to serve the students, so he has to hear what we have available on campus for us and what we have to say. This is a great opportunity for us to share our UTPA story."
Kalkwarf's agenda included meetings with University administration, SGA representatives and student leaders from organizations on campus, as well as a tour of the University and a serenade from the award-winning UTPA Mariachi group.
"My goal is to meet with students, see what they're doing and if I can assist them in any way," said Kalkwarf. "I want to provide them with the opportunity to use me as a resource."
During his meeting with student leaders he spoke about the upcoming legislative session in Texas and how the current budget cuts will play a role in decision making. Kalkwarf said this is a major concern for students across the UT System. However, Kalkwarf's primary purpose of visiting the universities is not to just inform, but to be the ears and the voice of the students.
Kalkwarf said it is his mission to receive students' perspectives on the UTPA administration, academics, and any other issues, such as permitting guns on campus, that students considered important to discuss. He also heard firsthand about the concerns over the Texas Grant and the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
"Along with hearing their concerns and suggestions, I also like to build relationships with the students," Kalkwarf said. "Whenever questions arise for the Board of Regents to cover at their meetings, I like calling student leaders from the different institutions and asking them for their thoughts on the situation so I can provide their perspective to the board."
Kalkwarf said, overall, he was impressed by the positivity exuded from the students in regard to the UTPA administration, academics and the efforts UTPA sets forth in providing educational services.
"The board's main concern is how certain topics or issues will affect the students. Our responsibility is to provide the best educational environment to give students opportunities to excel," Kalkwarf said.
Although Kalkwarf did not arrive at UTPA with a particular message he did want students to know one important thing.
"I want students to know that the system supports them," Kalkwarf said.