The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) President Heather Wilson detailed strong fundraising, a record number of sponsored research projects and healthy student engagement during her annual state of the university address at the 2021 Fall Convocation ceremony Tuesday.
Wilson described several examples of the college’s growing research portfolio.
“UTEP is a public research university. We don’t just transmit knowledge; we create new knowledge,” Wilson said. “That’s why our strategic goal is to advance research, scholarship and artistic expression with emphasis on areas of current and emerging strength.”
The University broke several research records in FY21:
- A record number of research proposals were funded, a nine percent increase over last year.
- For the second year in a row, school set a record in grant proposals submitted by faculty, with 679 grant applications submitted over the past year.
- The number of doctoral students increased eight percent over last year’s numbers.
- More than 800 Ph.D. students in 23 programs.
“This was an important year for advancement, even in a pandemic. We have restructured development and strengthened it to support our mission,” Wilson said. “It’s already starting to show results … Last year was one of the top three fundraising years in the history of UTEP – and possibly the top fundraising year ever.”
During her speech, Wilson announced major fundraising milestones:
- $26 million+ during FY2021 to support scholarships and fellowships, facilities and faculty.
- Managed by The University of Texas Investment Management Company, the endowment is now at a record $315 million.
- Received five seven-figure gifts in FY2021.
In the address, Wilson described new student-centric university initiatives targeting student success, including holistic advising and enhanced campus activities, designed to improve student persistence to graduation.
“Every student who persists to graduation at UTEP changes the course of a life, and the life of a family,” Wilson said.
The enhanced holistic advising program is paid for in part with Federal aid. As part of the program:
- Every undergraduate student will have a dedicated professional advisor.
- Advisors will use a research-based model that works to increase student persistence.
“You may have noticed that there seems to be a lot more going on at UTEP this fall,” Wilson said. “You’re right; there is. We have significantly increased activity on campus – everything from health fairs and student club sign-ups to pancake breakfasts, welcome receptions for graduate and international students, and dodgeball and archery games on the plaza.”
So far this academic year, student engagement has been the most active ever:
- Forty-eight events facilitated in the first 17 days of the semester and more than 300 events are planned for the fall semester alone.
- More than 3,000 students participated in the inaugural Texas Western Gold Rush.
- 22,000 people attended Minerpalooza, which also resulted in the highest amount raised by registered student clubs and organizations.
- Student Affairs is expecting the largest number of students to join a student organization in school’s history.