(Oct. 3, 2012) -- University of Texas at San Antonio President Ricardo Romo today announced a comprehensive, university-wide initiative to better prepare high school students for the rigors of college and increase four-year graduation rates. In his annual State of the University address, Romo outlined plans for the Graduation Rate Improvement Plan (GRIP), saying UTSA's highest priority is to improve retention and graduation levels as it strives to become a Tier One research university.
"The GRIP is the most comprehensive, the most collaborative initiative we have ever produced," said Romo. "It touches every facet of the university. It addresses every stage of a student's career."
The plan includes programs to ensure that students who want to attend the university are prepared for the academic expectations of college and can avoid taking developmental courses in their freshman year. The university is working to recruit the most academically talented students in the community. This year, 50 percent of the entering freshman class came from the top quartile of their high school classes.
One initiative, UTSA Ready, is a pilot program that involves working with 250 students in targeted San Antonio high schools to prepare for the transition to a university setting. Students with low test scores are being given online learning tools and academic coaching support to ready them for college work before they arrive on campus.
UTSA also will also launch University College, a program in which all freshmen will be connected to junior and senior students who will serve as their mentors during their first year. The University College program will begin in 2014.
Additionally, Romo said an evaluation of the curriculum in every degree program is being undertaken to ensure it is aligned to a four-year degree plan and timely graduation. Research has shown that students who complete their studies and graduate in four years are more likely to perform better academically and incur less financial debt from college. UTSA is exploring financial incentives for juniors and seniors who are on track to receive their degree in four years.
During the address, Romo also outlined a restructuring of the university's research division to better align its procedures with those of Tier One research organizations, including providing greater service and resources to professors involved in research.
"Every day we make steady progress toward becoming the university this community needs us to be, a Tier One university," he said.
Romo also provided an update on the university's first capital campaign, which is pacing well to reach its goal of raising $120 million by 2015. Romo announced that $110 million has been raised in the past three years, including $17 million since the capital campaign was publicly launched in April.
"What this says to me is that the community supports us. The community sees this university as a key shareholder in the advancement of our region. People invest in us because they want to make a difference for the future," Romo said.
The University of Texas at San Antonio is one of nine academic universities and six health institutions in the UT System. As a multicultural institution of access and excellence, UTSA aims to be a national research university providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
UTSA serves nearly 31,000 students in more than 135 degree programs in the colleges of Architecture, Business, Education and Human Development, Engineering, Honors, Liberal and Fine Arts, Public Policy, Sciences and the Graduate School. Founded in 1969, UTSA is an intellectual and creative resource center and a socioeconomic development catalyst for Texas and beyond.
The UTSA Consortium for Social Transformation; African American Studies Program presents guest speaker Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson, associate professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies, and African American Studies, University of California at Los Angelesand author of "Spaces of Conflict Sounds of Solidarity: Music, Race, and Spacial Entitlement in Los Angeles" and "Futures of Black Radicalism." The event is free and open to the public.
University Center, Denman Room (UC 2.01.28), Main Campus
Put on drunk goggles and navigate a pedal cart at the U in the Driver Seat Alcohol Awareness event, hosted by UTSA PD and Sigma Lambda Gamma.
Sombrilla Plaza, Main Campus
The UTSA Honors College hosts a sneak CineFestival preview of the documentary Somos Lengua, a new documentary about the Mexican hip hop scene. Jim Mendiola, the CineFestival Director, will screen the movie and present a festival overview.
University Center, Bexar Room (UC 1.102), Main Campus
Grab your friends, family, kids and dog for this annual fun run on the UTSA Main Campus benefititng the UTSA Alumni Association.
Convocation Center, Main Campus
Join the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching for the 13th annual Storytelling Festival. The festival will feature keynote speaker Carolina Quiroga-Stultz, a Colombian Storyteller and journalist. This event is free and open to the public.
Main Building, ground floor, Main Campus
The IDS Colloquium showcases the excellent scholarship done by the IDS students in the College of Education and Human Development at UTSA. In addition, this event also honors the legacy of Dr. Marian Martinello.
Business Building, University Room (BB 2.06.04), Main Campus
The Department of Biology and the Be the Match Team will collaborate to engage and educate our students in the importance of a life saving donation through peripheral blood stem cells and a marrow harvest.
UC Paseo and Central Plaza, Main Campus
UTSA welcomes the Italian-born duo Bandini-Chiacchiaretta. They've toured the world performing Argentine Tango music on guitar and bandoneon, the instrument of Astor Piazzolla. Tickets are $10 or free with UTSA Student I.D.
Arts Building, Recital Hall (ARTS 2.03.02), Main Campus
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 and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.