Message from the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs - February 29, 2024

February 29, 2024

Hello again, Vaqueros!

Here we are approaching the midpoint of the 2024 Spring Semester. From my many years in higher education, we know that faculty are just as eager as students to see spring break arrive. This past month has been a busy one, like most months, chock-full of meetings and events that keep me in awe of the hard work that every faculty, staff, and student produces to propel UTRGV forward.

Meeting with faculty has been a priority for me and since my last message to you, I have had the opportunity to attend faculty meetings with the College of Education and P-16 Integration and the College of Sciences. There are a few others scheduled for this semester that I look forward to. Hearing from faculty directly about their students, programs, research and scholarship, community activities, and projects they envision for the future adds to my appreciation of who we are and what we do.

The College of Health Professions saw two accreditation sited visits for the proposed Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program and our Nutritional Sciences Program. Not surprisingly, the two site visit teams lauded these programs and the leadership of Dean Michael Lehker and his administration. In late January, we had a site visit for our clinical psychology PhD program which left these program experts amazed by what we are doing. Meeting with each of these site visit teams, leaders in the respective fields, is a chance for faculty, students, staff, and university leadership to show our enthusiastic support for each program we have.

Montezuma CypressI was also pleased to take part in a “field trip” with the Community Historical Archaeology Project with Schools (CHAPS) Program. When you look at or touch artifacts like the Montezuma Cypress and minerals that are millions of years old, it gives one a sense of our place in history. My thanks to our expert guides Dr. Russ Skowronek and Professor Rosanne Bacha-Garza from the College of Liberal Arts and Dr. Juan Gonzalez from the College of Sciences. This team is doing great work with communities across the RGV.

The ties that UTRGV has with our communities are strong and I witness these with every invitation to local events. For example, February saw the State of the City address by McAllen Mayor Villalobos and the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Public Affairs Luncheon that featured a panel comprised of VP Maggie Hinojosa, AD Chasse Conque, and Head Football Coach Travis Bush. In each event, UTRGV is a recognized partner.

As basketball season winds down and baseball season picks up, I’ll be enjoying — alongside the littlest fan — being outdoors, hearing the ping of Vaquero bats hitting pitches, and the cheering as we marvel at a well-executed, balletic double play (a thing of beauty).

Baseball players during a game

Child happily holding a baseball under her mother's arms.Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that we are in the midst of considering nominations for the 2024 Faculty Excellence Awards. Already, the submissions are coming in, and reinvigorating our recollection of the great work being done by our faculty. Bravo!


Luis H. Zayas, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs