Ricardo Romo is the fifth president of The University of Texas at San Antonio, which was named by the Texas Legislature as an emerging Tier One research university and a leader in providing access to excellence in teaching, research and community outreach.
Under his leadership, student enrollment has grown 68 percent. The university has added numerous programs and facilities to enhance student life and expand its research capacity. With total research expenditures of $56.8 million and total expenditures of $79.4 million for fiscal year 2011, it represents a six-fold increase in expenditures during Romo’s tenure.
A San Antonio native who grew up on the city's West Side, Romo graduated from Fox Tech High School before attending the University of Texas at Austin on a track scholarship. At UT Austin, he was the first Texan to run the mile in less than four minutes, a record that lasted 41 years.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from UT Austin (1967) and holds a master’s degree in history from Loyola Marymount University (1970). Additionally, Romo earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Los Angeles (1975). A nationally respected urban historian, Romo is the author of “East Los Angeles: History of a Barrio,” now in its ninth printing (one in Spanish).
Romo began his academic career teaching social studies (1967-1970) at Franklin High School in Los Angeles. He went on to teach at the University of California at San Diego (1975-1979) and the University of Texas at Austin (1980-1999). He was a visiting professor at University of California, Berkeley in 1985 and a visiting scholar with the Stanford University Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences (1989-1990). In 1993, he became vice provost for undergraduate education at UT Austin before becoming president of UTSA in 1999.
Romo has received numerous awards and recognitions including 2006 Outstanding Friar Alumnus from the UT Austin Friar Society and the Isabel la Catolica award, the highest award given to non-Spanish subjects, bestowed upon him in 2007 by King Juan Carlos of Spain. In 2008, Romo received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Texas Exes Alumni Association.
In 2010, he received the San Antonio North Chamber Gov. Dolph Briscoe Salute to Excellence Award. In 2011, Romo was presented the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Chief Executive Leadership Award for transforming UTSA from a regional campus into an emerging Tier One research university. In February 2012, Romo received the Colonel W.T. Bondurant Sr. Distinguished Humanitarian Award from the San Antonio Academy of Texas Alumni Council.
Romo received the prestigious 2013 Clark Kerr Award for Distinguished Leadership in Higher Education from the University of California, Berkeley. Created in 1968 as a tribute to UC President Emeritus Clark Kerr, previous winners include nuclear physicist Herbert Frank York and Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren.
In March 2013, Romo received the Wheaton College Otis Social Justice Award in Boston for promoting social justice through education and public service. Established in 1959, previous winners include Eleanor Roosevelt (U.S. first lady and first chair of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights), Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, Texas writer Molly Ivins and Senator Edward Kennedy.
With a strong commitment to serve the community, Romo has served on a range of regional, national and international boards. He is vice chair of the Southwest Research Institute Board of Directors and on the boards of the American Council of Education, Philosophical Society of Texas, Humanities Texas, Austin Museum of Art and United States-Mexico Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange (COMEXUS). In May 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Romo to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
Romo is married to Dr. Harriett Romo, a UTSA professor of sociology and director of the UTSA Mexico Center and the Bank of zDr. Harriet Romo’s Bio America Child and Adolescent Policy Research Institute (CAPRI). Both first-generation college graduates, the Romos have a son, Carlos, who earned degrees from Stanford University and the University of Texas School of Law. Their daughter, Anadelia, a graduate of Princeton University, received a doctoral degree from Harvard University and teaches at Texas State University.
The Romos are avid art collectors. Their private art collection is particularly strong in works on paper by Chicana/Chicano and U.S. Latino artists with a regional focus on Texas and the Southwest. The collection includes works by Luis Jimenez, Carmen Lomas Garza, Cesar Martinez and Vincent Valdez, as well as print suites from Self Help Graphics and Coronado Studio.
Recently, more than 60 prints from their collection were on display San Antonio’s McNay Museum in an exhibit titled “Estampas de la Raza.” The traveling exhibit portrays the Latino experience in the United States through the work of 44 Mexican-American and Latino artists. These amazing prints are now on view at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and will continue to the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, followed by the Vincent Price Art Museum in Los Angeles.
A talented photographer, Romo’s photos have been included in numerous regional art exhibits including “Havana,” a collection of photos taken in Cuba, and “South Africa,” a selection of his photos taken on a trip to rural South Africa. His "Small Town Texas" exhibit was displayed at the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures. An assortment of his photos was featured in China's most respected photography magazine, Popular Photography. Romo and four other Texas photographers showed their work in the exhibit “Infinite Horizons: Visions of Texas” as a Texas-China cultural exchange.
(Updated April 2014)
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The UTSA Art Collection contains paintings, sculptures, works on paper and mixed media by many talented South Texas artists, some of whom are graduates of UTSA. Find out more.