UTRGV boasts more students, more degree plans

HARLINGEN — More students, more fields of study, more construction.

That’s the word on the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, said President Guy Bailey in the annual report he delivered yesterday afternoon to city and school district officials.

“We are pleased with the overall direction,” Bailey said at a lunch at the Jackson Square Events Center.

The event was attended by Mayor Chris Boswell, City Commissioner Michael Mezmar and other city leaders. Joseph Villarreal, assistant superintendent for secondary education for the Harlingen school district, also attended.

Bailey talked about new degree plans, increased enrollment, graduation requirements and numerous other matters related to the university in its third year.

“We are the third most affordable university in the U.S.,” he said. “Most students can’t afford to pay too much.”

Several new programs are under way in the Harlingen area, said Sofia Hernandez, chief of staff for the UTRGV School of Medicine.

“We’re working through the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation to build the neuroscience institute,” she said. “That will be housed in Harlingen. That institute will have both research and outpatient clinical operations.”

Neuroscience has important applications to this area.

“When you look at all the neurological disorders, it’s important that there’s access in the community around brain health,” she said. “For example, the nervous system care that affects the community, we tie that in again with the research component, around neurological disorders. It also has implications, if there’s a stroke patient, to a lot of that neurological damage that happens.”

UTRGV is also creating more services for surgery and women’s specialty care, she said.

“That’s something that we’re working on for this year here in Harlingen,” she said. “We don’t have the details about all that will be involved. But we know that when we look at women’s health care in the community there’s great need for screenings for breast and cervical cancer.”

By the numbers: Impacting the RGV and beyond

48 percent of UTRGV students are majoring in the STEM/health fields

$27.1 million projected 2017-2018 research expenditures

$15 million awarded to the School of Medicine by the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation to help establish the UTRGV Institute of Neurosciences

10,000+degrees awarded since UTRGV opened in 2015