We are a couple of weeks into the fall semester and UTSA is teeming with activity. More than 29,000 students are on campus including 7,500 new freshmen and transfer students. They are bright, eager and optimistic.
When I became president in 1999, our university looked quite different than it does today. We were a commuter campus with four colleges, 18,000 students and an endowment of $20 million. Our primary mission was teaching. But we recognized that San Antonio needed more.
We understood that, to be the world-class university that our city deserved, it was not enough to just have students. We needed to deliver excellence and quality in every aspect of their college experience. We needed to provide them with top-tier academics and research opportunities, and a vibrant campus life. That became our mission.
A lot has happened since 1999. We have grown from four colleges to nine. We have become a destination for excellence, with nearly 60 percent of our incoming freshmen graduating in the top quartile of their high school classes. We have been designated as an emerging Tier One research university. We have increased our endowed faculty positions ten-fold, from seven to more than 70. Our university endowment now stands at $130 million, and our first-ever capital campaign raised more than $202 million.
This is a historic time for UTSA, and none of it would have been possible without your support. Now, it is time to look to the future.
There is a saying in football that a good quarterback knows to get out of the game while he can still throw the football. While my sport of choice is running, the same holds true whether on the track or as a university president.
After 18 wonderful years at the helm of UTSA, I will be retiring as president next August, following the conclusion of the Spring 2017 semester. This is the right time to hand the reins of leadership to a new president, knowing there is a solid foundation of excellence in place and tremendous momentum that will keep UTSA moving forward.
Following a one-year sabbatical, I plan to once again pursue my passion as a historian. I will join the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, telling the story of our rich history and the role of the San Antonio Missions, which recently were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While my role will change, our shared focus does not. There is nothing more important than helping students succeed and giving San Antonio the Tier One university it deserves.
You have always been there for us, and I will continue to count on you to be among UTSA's most passionate advocates. For everything you do for our students and our university, I am truly humbled and grateful.
President, The University of Texas at San Antonio