According to Dr. Van A. Reidhead, dean of the UTPA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the grant’s principal investigator, the grant award was the result of the cooperative efforts of UTPA faculty representing all six academic colleges who worked to develop the grant proposal. The grant will provide for a professional staff including salary support for three new faculty positions in Chinese language and foreign policy instruction and U.S.-Mexico border public administration; faculty and student collaborative research; curriculum development; and student opportunities for staff support positions, study abroad with language and cultural immersion and national conference participation.
“This center will prepare our students with the critical thinking skills, research expertise and teamwork-centered communication skills necessary for positions and leadership in not only the Intelligence Community but in corporations, non-profit organizations and in all other branches of the government,” Reidhead said. “We want to give our students choices and the preparation to succeed in whatever career path they choose.”
The grant, which began Oct. 1, will also support trips to the center by visiting scholars and experts in many fields associated with global security education and research. The center will serve as a neutral space where different views can be expressed in the national and international discussion on intelligence and security Reidhead said.
“This center will give the Rio Grande Valley a voice in the nationwide debate over national security and how to properly prepare to meet current and future national and global security challenges,” he said. “In the long term, UTPA also aims to use the stature the center will bring to leverage additional resources to grow knowledge capital and economic development in the Valley and to seek opportunities for collaborative research to further its vision of being the premier learner-centered research institution in the state of Texas.”
UTPA was among 35 universities competing for one of six centers funded this year. Other recipients were The California State University System, Norfolk University in Virginia, The University of Texas-El Paso, The University of Washington in Seattle, and Wayne State University in Detroit. Centers already exist at Clark University in Atlanta, Florida International University in Miami, Tennessee State University in Nashville, and Trinity University in Washington, D.C. The center will be funded under a five year grant from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence under the Intelligence Community Centers of Academic Excellence programs.
The Intelligence Community is a cooperative federation of 16 United States government agencies and organizations including the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, FBI, State Department, CIA, Coast Guard, Border Patrol, Drug Enforcement Administration and Customs, Immigration and Naturalization, among others.
While the center will well prepare students who might want to serve in the Intelligence Community, there are no restrictions in the grant requiring students who study in the center to enter these fields. In addition, Reidhead said, UTPA will have complete control over the curriculum and other center programs and teach all the courses. The center will be housed in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and a national search for a center director will commence soon.