"We are delighted that Dr. Gonzalez agreed to serve as interim vice provost for research and sponsored programs," Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, UTPA provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said."It was Dr. Gonzalez's excellent research record, his outstanding service to this institution, his extensive knowledge regarding the research enterprise, and his knowledge about and prominence in the Rio Grande Valley that precisely led us to ask him to serve in this position."
Gonzalez, who has been with UTPA since 1998 and began his new post at the start of the Spring 2012 semester, was instrumental in the creation of the Rapid Response Manufacturing Center (he was the principal investigator of the grant the University received from the National Science Foundation to start the work that led to the establishment of the center) and has developed and fostered various collaborative relationships that have promoted the area's manufacturing.
Gonzalez said he is honored to have been selected to oversee the office during this time of transition and looks forward to continuing to support faculty in seeking funding for their research projects.
"More than anything else I feel is gratitude to be able to make a difference," he said. "When you become a faculty member ... you focus on being able to make a difference for your students, the college, the institution and the region. I think that's what makes us different here; we're all here to make a difference for our students, and through our students we make a difference for our region."
The Office of Research and Sponsored Projects assists faculty in their attempts to secure external funding for their research projects.
Rodríguez added that the goal of the University is to develop, enhance and strengthen its research enterprises. The University is also looking to create more initiatives with other institutions that promote collaborations across the Valley, country and world.
"It is critical that we diversify our external funding portfolio at UT Pan American," he said.
Dr. Wendy Lawrence-Fowler, who served as vice provost and head of the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects for the past 10 years, has returned to the Department of Computer Science full time as a faculty member.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Wendy Lawrence-Fowler for her service as vice provost for Research and Sponsored Programs," Rodríguez said. "She served for a 10-year period in this position and UT Pan American experienced significant changes in this area due to Dr. Fowler's leadership. We wish her all the best as she begins a new chapter in her professional life as a full-time faculty member in the College of Engineering and Computer Science."
The University is in the process of conducting a national search for a new vice provost, Rodríguez said.
"Our goal is to complete the search this year, but we will take the time necessary to find the candidate who is a good match for this institution," Rodríguez said.