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UTRGV’s ADVANCE Leadership Institute expands to include university staff

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By Maria Elena Hernandez

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – JAN. 19, 2018 – Jennifer McGehee-Valdez is one of the first staff members to join the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley's ADVANCE Leadership Institute.

“I was very excited about the opportunity,” said McGehee-Valdez, director of public relations for the university. “I am passionate about leadership and having the opportunities to learn more about it – especially dealing directly with women in leadership roles.”

On Friday, McGehee-Valdez joined 25 other participants at the UTRGV Brownsville Campus to kick off the semester-long leadership institute.

“The goal of the program is basically to help prepare the next generation of leaders for UTRGV,” said Dr. Ala Qubbaj, UTRGV vice provost for Faculty Affairs and Diversity. “Some of the graduates have been chairs, associates deans, associate VPs. And we want to make sure we have leaders to take roles as they become available.”

The ADVANCE Leadership Institute, now in its sixth year, provides leadership development with the aim of increasing advancement opportunities. While the larger goal is to increase representation of female faculty in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the leadership institute is open to UTRGV staff and faculty regardless of gender or academic discipline.

Several people at the kickoff were especially looking forward to the addition of staff to the program.

“We think this is long overdue,” said Dr. Marie Mora, UTRGV associate vice provost for Faculty Affairs and Diversity.

Mora said the ADVANCE Leadership Institute illustrates “how UTRGV is investing in its employees and wanting to make this a better place for everybody, including students, faculty, staff and the community.

“It also fits in with The University of Texas System’s push to develop more leaders,” she said.

Qubbaj welcomed this year’s participants at the kickoff.

“We are very pleased to have 13 faculty members and 13 staff members participating in this year’s cohort, a total of 26 participants from across all university divisions,” he said.

The keynote speaker was Veronica Gonzales, UTRGV vice president for Governmental and Community Relations. Qubbaj said a keynote speaker from within UTRGV is an opportunity to highlight recognized leadership that already is part of the university.

Gonzalez addressed the addition of staff to the leadership institute.

“As we all know, staff is critical to our success,” she said, “and I'm glad to see that we are including our staff in this program. I think we’re going to learn a lot from the staff.”

The ADVANCE Leadership Institute started in 2012, thanks to a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation. The NSF extended the grant for another year.

Participants in the ADVANCE Leadership Institute will attend eight sessions on Fridays throughout the spring semester. Decision making, conflict management, negotiation and strategic planning will be some of the topics covered. The program will end with a graduation and luncheon in May.

Ninety-five faculty members have already graduated from the ADVANCE Leadership Institute. Faculty who complete the program can then apply to the ADVANCE Administrative Fellows Program, which continues to develop participants’ leadership skills with hands-on administrative experience.

As the addition of staff members to the leadership institute is new and they already have administrative experience, Program Coordinator Claudia Garcia said the Office of Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and Diversity will work on developing other opportunities for staff.

For those interested in participating in future ADVANCE Leadership Institutes, applications are available in the fall.

The UTRGV ADVANCE Leadership Institute is now in its sixth year, providing leadership development that increases advancement opportunities. This year, UTRGV has expanded the institute by adding university staff to the ranks of faculty participants. Here, Dr. Ala Qubbaj (far left), UTRGV vice provost for Faculty Affairs and Diversity, addresses the launch of the current institute. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

The UTRGV ADVANCE Leadership Institute is now in its sixth year, providing leadership development that increases advancement opportunities. This year, UTRGV has expanded the institute by adding university staff to the ranks of faculty participants. Here, Dr. Ala Qubbaj (far left), UTRGV vice provost for Faculty Affairs and Diversity, addresses the launch of the current institute. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

ABOUT UTRGV 

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions. 

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016. 

MEDIA CONTACTS 

Malena.Hernandez@UTRGV.edu
UTRGV Senior Writer / 956-882-8787 

Marci.Caltabiano@UTRGV.edu 
UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications / 956-665-2742