The University of Texas Pan-American has been granted a new, higher peer group status by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), advancing from a comprehensive to doctoral institution.
"It is a sign of the great work that we are doing at Pan Am, and it foreshadows the amazing future that awaits the new University," said UT Pan American President Robert S. Nelsen, who first revealed the change in status at the University's annual convocation Aug. 20.
The state university classification, in descending order, are research, emerging research, doctoral, comprehensive and master's. The state's only research universities are the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M at College Station.
The THECB describes doctoral universities as educational and cultural resource institutions that are committed to the three-fold mission of teaching, research and service. Faculty members at doctoral universities are encouraged to be active researchers in their disciplines and include both graduate and undergraduate students in research and other creative pursuits.
Doctoral universities, according to the THECB criteria, offer a wide range of baccalaureate and master's programs and are committed to graduate education by offering doctorates in targeted areas of excellence and/or regional need. To become a doctoral university, an institution must achieve three of these four objectives:
• award at least 10 Ph.D. degrees annually;
• offer at least five doctoral-research/scholarship programs;
• enroll at least 150 doctoral-research/scholarship students;
• generate at least $2 million annually in restricted research expenditures.
In FY 2012, UTPA awarded 11 Ph.D.s, had 153 doctoral-research students and totaled $5,673,266 in restricted research expenditures, which qualified them for the doctoral classification.
UTPA was notified on Aug. 16 of the status elevation which was approved July 25 by the THECB.
In its letter to Nelsen about UTPA's status elevation, the THECB pointed out that the status will be reviewed every year. The letter noted that when UTPA and University of Texas Brownsville (UTB) merge to form as a new institution, as approved by the last session of the Texas Legislature, "a designation for the new institution will be determined based on peer group criteria" adopted in July. UTB is currently classified as a master's university.