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Home | Tag Archives: UTEP President Heather Wilson

Tag Archives: UTEP President Heather Wilson

UTEP President Heather Wilson appointed Chair of DOT’s new Women in Aviation Advisory Board

The University of Texas at El Paso officials announced Monday that President Heather Wilson was appointed chair of the newly formed Women in Aviation Advisory Board (WIABB) by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao on Friday, May 15.

President Wilson, who served as the 24th Secretary of the Air Force from 2017 to 2019, will lead 30 individuals representing a diverse range of backgrounds and expertise in the aviation industry who were appointed to serve as board members.

“Women are underrepresented in aviation and I look forward to working with Secretary Chao, the FAA, and the advisory board to develop strategies that will encourage more women to consider careers in the aviation industry,” President Wilson said.

She has more than 35 years of experience in a range of leadership and management roles in the military, higher education, government and private industry. In August 2019, she began her role as President of UTEP, which is among the top 5% of U.S. research universities and one of the nation’s leading Hispanic-serving institutions.

She previously served as the 24th Secretary of the Air Force and represented New Mexico in the U.S. Congress for a decade.

She graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in the third class to include women, and earned her master’s and doctoral degrees as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England. Wilson is an instrument rated private pilot and aircraft owner.

“The Department welcomes Dr. Heather Wilson and these accomplished advisory board members, who share a commitment and passion for encouraging women to access opportunities in aviation,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

The WIAAB was established Oct. 3, 2019, under the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018. The purpose of the WIAAB is to encourage women and girls to enter the field of aviation with the objective of promoting organizations and programs that are providing education, training, mentorship, outreach and recruitment of women in the aviation industry.

Board members represent a diverse range of backgrounds and expertise, including those from major airlines and aerospace companies, nonprofit organizations within the aviation industry, aviation and engineering business associations, the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol, and institutions of higher education and aviation trade schools.

“From Secretary Chao, to the several women on my senior leadership team, and the more than 10,000 women in the FAA, we see the professionalism and contributions that make our aviation industry the gold standard for the world every day,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “We salute the WIAAB’s new board members for their commitment to illuminate this career path for more women.”

Members will be appointed to the WIAAB for the duration of its existence, which is anticipated to be a minimum of two years. The board will meet up to twice annually to carry out its duties.

A full list of nominees and their biographies is available here.

UTEP President Wilson joins university leaders in discussion with VP Pence, Ed. Secretary DeVos

UTEP President Heather Wilson was one of 14 university presidents who joined Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Dr. Deborah Birx from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a teleconference call Wednesday to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s institutions of higher education and plans to reopen campuses.

The Vice President indicated he wanted to stay in touch with the group as planning continues. President Wilson was the only president on the call representing a Texas university.

She described the call as encouraging and said the main message from the group of university leaders — which included the presidents of Stanford University and the University of Notre Dame, among others — was a desire to safely return to campuses this fall.

“Higher education is an important economic engine for recovery,” Wilson said. “I appreciate that Vice President Pence and Secretary DeVos want to learn more about what the federal government can do to help our country bounce back even stronger and the role our universities play in that.”

The University of Texas at El Paso shifted to online instruction in March and has thus far only opened online courses for its summer terms. UTEP has already initiated efforts to return to campus.

In late April, a Recovery Plan Task Force, led by Stephen Crites, Ph.D., Dean of the Graduate School, was formed to develop and provide recommendations to UTEP’s senior leadership team on actions, timelines, resources needed, and policies and procedures related to the campus reopening.

The University also recently began accepting applications for emergency financial assistance available through the CARES Act, a relief fund created by the federal government to support eligible college students impacted by the coronavirus.

Officials share that, to date, UTEP has provided more than $2.1 million in emergency aid grants to nearly 4,300 students.

Half of UTEP students are the first in their families to go to college and two-thirds come from families of modest means and receive Pell grants.

Carnegie Foundation honors UTEP with National Community Engagement Distinction

The University of Texas at El Paso has earned the Community Engagement Classification – the Carnegie Foundation’s highest standard of recognition for reciprocal, sustainable and mutually beneficial scholarly partnerships with local, regional and national communities.

“The Community Engagement Classification recognizes UTEP’s positive impact on the economy and well-being of the community we serve,” UTEP President Heather Wilson said. “UTEP is one of only 73 top tier research universities in the U.S. that are also strong on community engagement. Our faculty and students deserve a lot of credit for being committed to both.”

This Community Engagement Classification is one of seven classifications created by the Carnegie Foundation as a guiding framework to help identify institutional diversity in U.S. higher education.

The foundation’s framework, known as the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, continues to be used for a wide range of purposes by academic researchers, institutional personnel and policymakers.

“The institutions that we are recognizing today are doing extraordinary work in addressing their societal responsibilities in and through community engagement and service,” said Paul LeMahieu, senior vice president at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. “In doing so, they bring scholarship, knowledge and expertise to address real challenges in our communal lives.”

The Carnegie Foundation also designated UTEP as a top tier doctoral university with very high research activity (R1) in December 2018 based on the number of doctoral degrees awarded and strong research expenditures.

UTEP awarded 121 doctoral degrees during the last academic year (2018-19) and earned $108 million in research grants during the same period. UTEP is also the fourth most research-intensive public university in Texas, behind UT Austin, Texas A&M College Station and the University of Houston, as measured by annual federal research expenditures.

“Earning both Carnegie recognitions affirms at the highest level UTEP’s commitment to provide students with an exceptional education and do meaningful work that positively impacts the economy and well-being of the community we serve,” said John Wiebe, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The Community Engagement Classification is voluntary and evidence-based, requiring institutional self-assessment followed by a national review to validate the full extent of community engagement demonstrated in the institution’s mission, identity and commitments.

The Carnegie Foundation specifically noted UTEP’s excellent alignment of engagement among the campus leadership, culture, resources, curricular practices and accreditation objectives.

At the time of the application, 43% of UTEP’s sponsored-projects portfolio directly impacted the Paso del Norte community; UTEP’s faculty taught over 480 community-engaged courses during the 2017-18 academic year; and more than 15,000 students engaged in the community through their academic courses or through service projects with community partners.

“Our faculty and students’ contributions go well beyond work in campus laboratories,” Wiebe said. “We are grateful for our campus partners who help us identify complex social challenges, our faculty who work to integrate teaching, research and service for the benefit of our community, and our talented staff who work tirelessly to facilitate community engagement.”

UTEP started a clear path to creating an engaged university when it received its first 10-year Community Engagement Classification in 2010.

“The Carnegie Foundation broadened the criteria necessary to retain the classification,” said Azuri Gonzalez, director of the UTEP Center for Community Engagement (CCE). “We have spent the last decade growing community engaged practices on campus, including creating the Provost’s Council on Community Engagement, incorporating engagement into the University’s Handbook of Operating Procedures, establishing the President’s Community Engaged Scholars award to promote faculty engagement scholarship, and implementing a Civic Action Plan.”

UTEP’s Community Engagement Classification is valid until 2026, at which time UTEP will have to reapply to retain its status. UTEP is one of only 119 institutions across the country that achieved this premier distinction in the 2020 cycle.

Army Futures Command General visits UTEP to learn about research capabilities

Gen. John M. Murray, commanding general of the U.S. Army Futures Command, and other Army representatives visited The University of Texas at El Paso on Monday, December 16, to learn more about the University’s capabilities in engineering and science research.

Murray toured facilities and spoke with faculty researchers about advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, cyber security, quantum computing and counter-unmanned aerial systems, among other topics.

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, who has been a strong supporter of UTEP and its research, also participated in the tour and discussions.

“UTEP has done exceptional research work for the Army for many years,” said UTEP President Heather Wilson. “Today we explored how we might increase the research we do for the Army on some of their toughest and most important problems.”

Murray is the first commanding general of the U.S. Army Futures Command, headquartered in Austin, Texas. The U.S. Army Futures Command orchestrates the Army modernization efforts to provide the best available technology to its warfighters.

He was accompanied by Wilson, Escobar, Vice President for Research Roberto Osegueda, College of Science Dean Robert Kirken, College of Engineering Dean Theresa Maldonado, and several UTEP faculty researchers.

“Army Futures Command is focused on modernizing our Army to ensure our soldiers have what they need in the future … and in the ‘future after that,'” Murray said. “To get that right, and to stay ahead, we’re drawing on the very best cutting-edge science and technology … from advanced materials and artificial intelligence to hypersonics. Our leading research universities around the nation are part of our overall effort.”

“Today is a great opportunity to explore the great work UTEP is doing and how that research might be able to help the Army solve problems. We’re grateful to Rep. Escobar, and President Wilson, for making this visit possible,” Murray added.

Army General John M. Murray visits UTEP and is escorted by President Wilson, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar and co.,Monday, December 16, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre/UTEP Communications

UTEP tops $100 Million in research

UTEP President Heather Wilson announced Thursday that the University of Texas at El Paso has surpassed the $100 million threshold in annual research expenditures for the first time in its history.

According to President Wilson, the University is reporting $108 million in research expenditures for fiscal year 2019 to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for its Survey of Research and Development Expenditures at Universities and Colleges.

“UTEP is one of the top research institutions in the nation,” President Wilson said. “We produce meaningful research of public value and make a positive impact on the community we serve.”

Annual spending totals take into account research and development expenditures across all sources of funds, including federal, state, industry and foundations. This figure is a measure of UTEP’s research productivity that is consistent with the Carnegie R1 designation awarded to the University in December 2018.

The $100M+ milestone also represents a doubling of total annual research expenditures since 2008.

Roberto Osegueda, Ph.D., UTEP’s vice president for research, has played a key leadership role in the University’s journey to the $100M+ milestone. Nearly a decade ago, Osegueda was part of the team that orchestrated the creation and implementation of a strategic plan that set the University on its current course of sustained growth in research.

“It is an incredible credit to our faculty and staff that we’ve come this far,” Osegueda said. “Thanks to their tenacity and talent, the University’s power to innovate, discover and give back has been augmented far beyond our initial expectations.”

Administrators and faculty members across the campus agree that while it is unquestionably a significant landmark in the life of the University, what the $100M+ milestone truly represents is the beginning of a new phase in UTEP’s long-standing commitment to the advancement of knowledge and its application.

Moreover, plans to keep the momentum going, such as the opening of new research facilities and the strengthening of strategic partnerships, are an ongoing priority on the to-do lists of leaders across the campus.

“UTEP is the best it has ever been,” President Wilson said in a recent meeting of staff and faculty members. “Now, together, we will focus on how we’re going to get even better.”

UTEP President named recipient of Eisenhower Award

UTEP President Heather Wilson has been named a recipient of the Eisenhower Award, a recognition of prominent leadership given by the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress (CSPC).

“I am honored to be named a recipient of the Eisenhower Award,” President Wilson said. “I am especially pleased to share this award with Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX, who has displayed a steadfast commitment to the fostering of technological advancements in space exploration.”

CSPC officials said President Wilson was recognized for her commitment to the American people and their security throughout her career as a U.S. Air Force officer, member of Congress and Secretary of the Air Force. During her tenure as Secretary of the Air Force, she positioned the force to adapt to the strategic challenges of the future, while remaining a tireless advocate for men and women in uniform.

The Eisenhower Award salutes enlightened leadership, strategic vision and character in the mold of the 34th President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served as Supreme Allied Commander during World War II. President Wilson will receive the award along with Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, who is being recognized for her work in the aerospace industry.

President Wilson entered UTEP’s highest leadership role at the start of the 2019-20 academic year.

UTEP is in the top 5% of public research universities in the United States and has achieved this distinction while being a national model for accessible higher education in the fourth largest manufacturing region in North America.

President Wilson believes UTEP is a model for the 21st century public university that advances discovery of public value, provides broad access to students from all backgrounds, and has a positive social and economic impact on the region it serves.

President Wilson came to UTEP after serving as Secretary of the United States Air Force. She is the former president of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, an engineering and science research university in Rapid City, South Dakota, and represented New Mexico in the United States Congress for 10 years. She also has worked in the private sector, serving as a senior adviser to defense and scientific industry and as president of Keystone International, a company she founded that conducted business development and program planning work.

“I am proud that CSPC will honor these two visionary and strategic leaders with our Eisenhower Award,” said former U.S. Rep. Glenn Nye, CSPC president and CEO, and former representative for Virginia’s Second Congressional District. “The leadership that Ms. Shotwell and Secretary Wilson have demonstrated in national security and technological innovation has pushed new frontiers while also ensuring the safety and prosperity of the American people.”

President Wilson will receive the award Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, during the organization’s 52nd Annual Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C.

Mining Minds: Special Lighting to celebrate UTEP President Heather Wilson’s 1st Fall Convocation

The University of Texas at El Paso will illuminate the “Mining Minds” pickaxe sculpture at the campus’ Sun Bowl-University Roundabout in blue and orange Tuesday, September 17, 2019, to celebrate UTEP President Heather Wilson’s first Fall Convocation.

President Wilson will deliver remarks to UTEP faculty, staff and students at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Fox Fine Arts Recital Hall.

Wilson was confirmed as President on April 2 by The University of Texas System Board of Regents after a national search that spanned eight months. She took office Aug. 15.

Her career in public service and higher education has spanned more than 35 years and includes top leadership roles in higher education, the military, government and private industry.

Until May 2019, President Wilson served as Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, a position to which she was appointed in 2017. In that role, she oversaw 685,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian forces, and an annual budget of $160 billion.

Before joining the Department of Defense, she served as president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, an engineering and science research university in Rapid City, South Dakota, from 2013 to 2017.

In 1998, Wilson became the first female military veteran elected to a full term in Congress, representing New Mexico until 2009.

“Mining Minds” is an iconic piece of public art installed in 2010 to enhance the UTEP campus. At night, orange lights illuminate the steel structure while light from LEDs emanates from the perforated “ones” and “zeroes” at each end of the pick.

The University illuminates the pick in blue and orange on special occasions, such as historic dates, major annual milestones and celebrations of special accomplishments.

Learn more about “Mining Minds” at miningminds.utep.edu.

Letter: A Few Words from New UTEP President Heather Wilson

When I was in first grade, I had a bank made out of a tin Crisco can with a slot cut in the top. It had pennies and nickels and a few quarters I had earned or been given.

One day, my mother told me that I could go to YMCA camp the following summer. I could use the coins I had saved in my can and she would pay the rest.

“I can’t use that money for camp,” I told her. “I’m saving for college.”

My mother laughed. I probably would have too in her situation with a six-year-old saving for college.

But I was serious.

The truth is, I don’t know where I got the idea that I was going to college. No one in my family had ever been. But as my schooling continued, my commitment to make my life better by working hard and going to college deepened.

My father’s family came to America after the First World War. My grandfather was a mechanic and a pilot who ran little airports and taught people to fly. He served in the Second World War for the United States, towing targets for gunnery practice and patrolling the coast looking for submarines. My grandmother was a seamstress and worked in a shoe factory.

My Dad started flying as a kid and enlisted in the Air Force for a few years after high school. He was a mechanic and, after he got out of the Air Force, he was a pilot.

My Mom’s family came from Ireland. After my Dad died in a car accident when I was in second grade, she went back to work as a nurse in our local hospital.

When I was a junior in high school they opened the Air Force Academy to women. It was a full ride scholarship – a ticket to a dream.

My grandfather was still alive when I left home for the Academy. I was seventeen years old – the same age he had been when he lied about his age and joined the Royal Air Force. I was his only granddaughter and he was so proud of me. It was the only time I ever saw him cry.

I worked hard and thrived at the Academy. It challenged me and helped me grow from an awkward teenager from a small town into an educated young woman of promise. It opened doors for me that I didn’t even know existed.

The boys and girls in first grade today, saving pennies and nickels for camp or college, will be graduating from high school 12 years hence. Those students will be preparing for careers that do not yet exist, using technology that has not yet been invented.

I believe in the power of education to change lives because it changed mine.

When it comes to education, what was good enough for our parents and our grandparents is not good enough for our children or our grandchildren. The pace of change is accelerating.

A commitment to continuous learning for everyone – to access, excellence, and impact – will separate the regions of the world that thrive in the 21st century from those that don’t.

UTEP is committed to building this bright future, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

Warm Regards,

Heather Wilson
President

***

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