Capitol visit
Capitol visit
Top photo: UTSA staff, students, alumni and supporters at Capitol with UTSA President
Ricardo Romo (orange tie) and Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (orange jacket) of San Antonio
Middle photo: UTSA boosters greet Speaker of the House Joe Strauss of San Antonio
Bottom photo: Texas Capitol
(Photos by Mark McClendon)

UTSA boosters visit state lawmakers in Austin

By Omar Hernandez
Public Affairs Specialist

(March 19, 2009)--The UTSA Student Government Association (SGA) and Alumni Association partnered March 3 with the UTSA Office of External Affairs to visit the State Capitol to talk about UTSA.

The annual trip puts UTSA students and alumni face-to-face with state lawmakers. Just before the UTSA supporters entered the Capitol, they were given pedometers -- a literal way to make each step count through the Capitol as UTSA works toward premier research status. While the day was beautiful and sunny, it was all business for the UTSA group.

"It's more than just a volunteer effort on my behalf and everyone else that came along -- it really is vital to our community," said Danny Zimmerman, UTSA alumnus and president of the UTSA Alumni Association. "South Texas is primed for this and we need it. The alumni and students want to make a difference but with that we need a certain investment from the state."

Zimmerman led the alumni group on the trip and took charge during the opening meetings with legislators. Having made the trip before, he made sure everyone got involved during the day.

After initial nervousness, Rachael Andrews jumped in to crusade for her school on an issue that most state legislators were convinced all students supported.

"It's interesting -- they assume we want a tuition freeze, but they probably don't think about the consequences of that sometimes," said Andrews, a senior education major. "We're a growing university, so, in the long run, it better serves the students to have an increase in tuition and have those funds available to help UTSA and its students."

Aside from a few differences in opinion, the day was mostly a sermon to the choir. Sen. Leticia Van de Putte took time from her busy schedule to meet with the group.

"Everyday that I see a UTSA presence at the Capitol, I'm overjoyed," said Van de Putte. "My responsibility as a senator from San Antonio is to make sure UTSA has the resources it needs to continue its mission. It's so very much appreciated when faculty, staff, students and alumni come because the message needs to get to all of my other colleagues that we need to make the investment in higher education and that it's about the opportunity."

Van de Putte took the group to her office to show them a picture she has on display of a younger UTSA President Ricardo Romo during his track days at UT Austin.

As UTSA advances toward the goal to become the next great Texas university, it can only help to keep the university in the minds of Texas lawmakers. In this year's Capitol visit, UTSA students and alumni helped with 153,482 steps toward that goal.

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development for Texas, the nation and the world.

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