UTRGV opens U Central, convenient one-stop shop for students

UTRGV Student Assistant Maria Gonzalez signs in a student at U Central on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, at the UTRGV Student Services Building on the Edinburg Campus. U Central is a one-stop shop on both the Edinburg and Brownsville campuses that works with various offices to centralize services via one point of contact.

UTRGV Student Assistant Maria Gonzalez signs in a student at U Central on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, at the UTRGV Student Services Building on the Edinburg Campus. U Central is a one-stop shop on both the Edinburg and Brownsville campuses that works with various offices to centralize services via one point of contact.

By Jennifer L. Berghom and Vicky Brito

EDINBURG, TEXAS – OCT 12, 2015 –  Gone are the days when students have to wait in multiple long lines to get answers to their questions on financial aid, registration, enrollment and other issues.

Students at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley now can receive assistance at its new one-stop shop – called U Central – on both the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses.

On Monday, Oct. 12, UTRGV celebrated the official opening of U Central with two ribbon-cutting ceremonies – one in the morning at El Gran Patio on the Brownsville Campus, and one in the afternoon outside the Student Services Building on the Edinburg Campus. U Central has been assisting students since August.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey said U Central enables the university to achieve its primary goal of student success.

“You need to have processes that help students get registered, get their financial aid, get in the right classes, meet advisers. And they need to be able to do that in as streamlined a fashion as possible,” Bailey said. “U Central provides that with cross-trained staff, technology and technological solutions to things. And it makes our goal really simple.”

UTRGV Associate Vice President for Student Enrollment Dr. Magdalena Hinojosa said having a one-stop shop for students has been on her wish list for a long time.

“We wanted an area for students to be able to go so that they are not sent from place to place. But more importantly, we wanted them to speak to one individual,” she said.

Though her dream of centralizing student assistance has taken many years to become a reality, building the centers took much less time, thanks to teamwork from administrators and staff from both campuses, she said.

“I’ve worked for universities for over 20 years and I’ve never seen anything done so fast when it comes to construction. We are really pleased and have a lot of people to thank,” she said. 

At U Central, staff members are cross-trained to handle a variety of student services, such as admissions, enrollment, registration and financial aid, so they can help students in one visit. Each center has a waiting area for students.

For students who need to take care of other business, U Central staff can send a text message to students to let them know when they are ready to be helped.

UTRGV Business Analyst in Student Enrollment Xinmin Chen developed the text message feature, which allows students to sign up for services in U Central so they not only will be able to see where they stand in line on the in-office screen, but also will get a text message when it’s their turn to meet with a representative.

Since opening in August, more than 17,000 students from the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses have received help from staff at U Central in a three-week period, Hinojosa said.

Students said they like having just one place to go to receive assistance.

Genesis Flores, a 20-year-old junior from La Joya who is studying political science and public relations, said the new setup is far more convenient for students than it was before. She especially liked being able to get a text message, so she didn’t have to wait in line and could get more done.

“Before, everything was divided into different sections and you were divided by a line in different rooms. So, I really like this facility because it just keeps everything in one area,” Flores said.

Flores said she got help with her financial aid at U Central.

Rodrigo Gonzalez, a 26-year-old senior from Mexico City who is studying manufacturing engineering and management, said U Central staff helped him reconcile a problem with a class credit transfer to his UTRGV record.

“We get more attention, more help, and it’s all about students,” he said of U Central.

U Central is located at The Tower, Main 1.100, on the Brownsville Campus, and on the first floor of the Student Services Building on the Edinburg Campus.

It is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in Brownsville; and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday in Edinburg.

For more information, call (888) 882-4016 or email UCentral@utrgv.edu.

(From left) Associate Comptroller-Treasury Operations Sara Gonzalez; Executive VP Finance Martin Baylor; VP of Operations Dr. Janna Arney; Student Government Senator Florentino Saenz; Provost Dr. Havidan Rodriguez; Student Government VP Denise Molina; President Guy Bailey; and Associate VP for Student Enrollment Dr. Magdalena Hinojosa participated in U Central’s official opening Monday with ribbon-cutting ceremonies on both campuses. The Brownsville event, shown here, was held in the morning, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015.

(From left) Associate Comptroller-Treasury Operations Sara Gonzalez; Executive VP Finance  Martin Baylor; VP of Operations Dr. Janna Arney; Student Government Senator Florentino Saenz; Provost Dr. Havidan Rodriguez; Student Government VP Denise Molina; President Guy Bailey; and Associate VP for Student Enrollment Dr. Magdalena Hinojosa participated in U Central’s official opening Monday with ribbon-cutting ceremonies on both campuses. The Brownsville event, shown here, was held in the morning, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. 

UTRGV students assisted in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for U Central on Monday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2015, at the Student Services Building on the Edinburg Campus. U Central is a one-stop shop that works with various offices across campuses to centralize services via one point of contact.

UTRGV students assisted in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for U Central on Monday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2015, at the Student Services Building on the Edinburg Campus. U Central is a one-stop shop that works with various offices across campuses to centralize services via one point of contact.

MEDIA CONTACTS

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

Jennifer.McGehee@UTRGV.edu UTRGV Director of Public Relations
956-882-5105