Friday, September 11, 2015

UTRGV hosts first Critical Issues in Leadership Conference

By Jennifer L. Berghom

EDINBURG, TEXAS – SEPT. 11, 2015 – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley knows a thing or two about change, and its leaders want to help area school districts navigate the changes they may experience.

UTRGV’s College of Education and P-16 Initiatives opened its first Critical Issues in Leadership Conference on Friday, Sept. 11, at the Community Engagement and Student Success Building in Edinburg. (The conference is set to conclude on Saturday, Sept. 12.)
Throughout the conference, more than 60 administrators from school districts throughout the Valley heard from UTRGV faculty, who discussed best practices for leading during times of transition and change. They also participated in group activities and discussions.

In his welcoming remarks, UTRGV Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Havidán Rodríguez gave educators a history of UTRGV and its plans to become an emerging research institution that will increase educational opportunities and commit to student success.

For the new university to be successful, it needs to form strong partnerships with local school districts, he said.

“When we think about UTRGV, it is about creating communities and building partnerships,” Rodríguez said. “This is what P-16 integration is all about. There will be partnerships, creating communities, between the university and K through 12, because that is … the only way we are going to be successful. And, more importantly, it is the only way our students in the Rio Grande Valley are going to be successful.”

Educators who attended the conference said they were excited about the changes in higher education in the Valley and look forward to continuing their partnerships with UTRGV.

Michael Sanchez, head of the mathematics department at Weslaco East High School and a UTPA alumnus, said he is excited to see more opportunities for students in South Texas.

“The Valley is a very unique place when it comes to our students, and since UTRGV is here, we’re hoping that we can have a better focus and can better serve our students,” he said.

Cynthia Ramos, the Lasara Independent School District’s coordinator for curriculum and instruction and federal programs, and a UTPA alumna, said she is heartened by the commitment UTRGV has made to all the school districts, big and small.

“We don’t have to go far to be who we want to be, and our dreams can come true no matter where we want to go,” Ramos said.

The Lasara district has fewer than 500 students, according to 2014 data from the Texas Education Agency, so she’s excited about UTRGV’s interest.

“We have somewhere that will support us, and will actually guide us to where we need to be,” Ramos said.

“Exploring the Future, Leading Change.”

Posted by The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on Friday, September 11, 2015

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