UTSA's Laura Rendon among most powerful, influential Texas women

Dennis, Laura and Angeles

From left are Dennis Kennedy (CEO-founder of National Diversity Council), Laura Rendon and Angeles Valenciano (president-EVP of National Diversity Council)

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(April 18. 2013) -- Laura I. Rendón, UTSA professor of educational leadership and policy studies, was named one of the Most Powerful and Influential Women in Texas by the National Diversity Council. She received the award at the Texas Diversity Council's ninth annual Texas Diversity and Leadership Conference in Dallas.

"I am humbled and honored to receive this prestigious award on behalf of all who work diligently and tirelessly on improving education for underserved student populations," said Rendón.

Rendón is a nationally recognized scholar and researcher in higher education issues concerning access, retention and graduation of low-income, first-generation college students and the transformation of teaching and learning to emphasize wholeness and social justice.

She is co-director of the UTSA Center for Research and Policy in Education in the College of Education and Human Development, which engages in research that informs the education community about critical factors that affect the academic success of key student groups.

Rendón serves on the board of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, chairs the Student Success Institute of the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) and is a member of the Education Leadership Council at the Garrison Institute. She is co-founder and past board chair of the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships and past president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), the nation's premier scholarly organization focusing on higher education research.

Additionally, Rendón developed the theory of validation, which has been employed as a framework for working with and affirming students of color, many of whom are low-income and the first in their families to attend college. As a leader in the field of college access and achievement, Rendón's research has been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education and the PBS documentary, "The College Track." Rendón is a frequent speaker at colleges and universities throughout the nation on topics related to improving persistence and completion.

"Laura's professional work has deeply influenced the way higher education institutions understand and serve their increasingly diverse student populations," said Lisa Firmin, UTSA associate provost for faculty and student diversity and recruitment. "She is a tremendous asset to UTSA as we move toward becoming a Tier One institution."

UTSA promotes diversity across its campuses with inclusiveness as one of its core values. In the May 2012 edition of The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, UTSA was ranked No. 5 in the nation in the number of undergraduate degrees awarded to Hispanic students and No. 12 nationally in the number of master's degrees awarded to Hispanics. Additionally, UTSA was among 27 higher education institutions across the nation honored in 2012 for its commitment to diversity by Minority Access Inc.

This is the third consecutive year that a UTSA administrator has received the honor from the National Diversity Council. Lisa Firmin was selected in 2012 and Lynda de la Viña, UTSA professor of entrepreneurship and technology management and former dean of the College of Business, was selected in 2011.