Friday, December 4, 2015

MOU between UTRGV and Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas promotes strong collaboration

EDINBURG, TEXAS – DEC. 4, 2015 – A new Memorandum of Understanding signed Dec. 3 between The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and the Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas, the state university of Tamaulipas, Mexico, will provide new collaborative opportunities to students, faculty and staff at both border institutions.

The MOU, signed by UTRGV President Guy Bailey and Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas Rector C. P. Enrique C. Etienne Pérez del Río, provides for cooperative efforts to promote academic interchange of faculty and students, joint research projects, exchange of academic publications, reports and other information, and collaborative professional development, among other activities as approved by both institutions.

Bailey said the signing formally continues a relationship that has been in place for more than 25 years.

“Our institutions share much in common. We both have medical schools and both of our medical schools will be dealing with similar kinds of issues,” Bailey said. “There is a synergy there. Also, each of our universities have programs that are attractive to faculty and students. So faculty and student exchanges are very strong. Finally, many of our students have connections across the border. This is a great opportunity for us to build for the future.”

Pérez del Río, who became his university’s rector in 2014, said he aims to lead his university from being “good” to “excellent,” and to produce graduates who not only are qualified, but also have strong values.

“We have established three goals or three areas of action – academic quality, research and internationalization of the institution,” he said, and cited some of their recent international awards and certifications for academic endeavors. “I am very proud to offer our university to you. We can do many great things together.”

The academic heads of both universities – Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Havidán Rodríguez and UAT’s Secretario Académico Dr. Marco Aurelio Navarro Leal – also spoke at the ceremony.

“We look forward to continuing to collaborate, expand and strengthen our partnerships,” Rodríguez said. “One of our core priorities is to become a gateway to the Americas. We are working hard to strengthen and expand our international programs to become a much more global institution.”

Navarro Leal said the border relationships that already exist in terms of families, the economy and growth already make this a strong region, and that there will be growing opportunities for students to fill needed positions in areas like technology and the space industry. Research will be important in medical technology, he said, and in meeting the countries’ common challenges of maintaining clean air and water.

“We need to start working together in terms of how we are going to prepare our students to face these new challenges,” he said.

The Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas, based in Cd. Victoria, Tamps., has the highest enrollment in the state of Tamaulipas, serving about 40,000 students in 26 academic units, colleges and schools located in Reynosa, Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, Tampico, Cd. Mante and Valle Hermoso. In addition to a medical school, it also has research and knowledge transfer centers.

The UTRGV Office of Global Engagement hosted the MOU ceremony, which was attended by deans and academic leaders from both institutions. The OGE oversees International Programs and Partnerships, International Admissions and Student Services and the Language Institute.

Dr. Dennis Hart, UTRGV associate provost of the OGE, said UTRGV is looking for strategic partnerships.

“We want partners that are aligned carefully with our goals and our needs and where we can fit with them,” he said. “What we are hoping for here is an effective relationship with our medical schools, our business schools and other schools, as well. They are a strategic partner.”

Thursday, December 3, 2015

UTRGV holding town hall meetings with deaf community to learn their healthcare needs

By Jennifer L. Berghom
RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS –DEC. 3, 2015 – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is reaching out to the deaf community to find out how it can better serve Valley residents with hearing challenges.

Linda Nelson, UTRGV senior director of Clinical Operations, and Dr. Shawn Saladin, associate dean for Research and Graduate Programs and associate professor of Rehabilitation Services and Counseling for the UTRGV College of Health Affairs, have been conducting town hall meetings with deaf and hard of hearing residents throughout the Valley to find out what services they would like to see offered in the community. On Dec. 1, they met with residents at José De Escandón Elementary School in McAllen.

UTRGV plans to use the information to determine how to best serve the community in health clinics it plans to open with its hospital and other healthcare partners.

Previous meetings were held in Rio Grande City and Edinburg, Saladin said, and about 20 people attended each session.

“They’ve been very productive meetings,” he said.

In addition to having Sign interpreters available for patients who are deaf or hard of hearing, some residents also suggested a speaker series and other health education events.

“A lot of people want education from us,” he said.


All the meetings are from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

DEC. 3: Harlingen - Regional Academic Health Center Auditorium, 2102 Treasure Hills Blvd.

DEC. 17: Mission - Speer Memorial Library Community Room, 801 E. 12th St.

JAN. 7, 2016: Port Isabel - Port Isabel Community Center, 213 Yturria St.

JAN. 12, 2016: Brownsville - UTRGV Brownsville Campus, Salon Cassia Room 2.402.

JAN. 19, 2016: Raymondville - Raymondville Rural Technical Center, 700 FM 3168.

JAN. 26, 2016: Weslaco - Location to be determined.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Communication students address sexual assault, rape prevention at Gender Comm Expo

By Vicky Brito
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS –DEC. 2, 2015 – Sexual assault and rape are difficult topics for discussion for many people. But the communication department at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley got the conversation going in Brownsville on Wednesday, during the Gender Comm Expo for the Prevention of Sexual Assault and Harassment.

Dr. John Cook, associate professor and chair of the UTRGV Communication Department, said the goal of the event was to spread awareness through a difficult dialogue event.

Difficult dialogue events promote religious, cultural and political pluralism, he said, as well as academic freedom on campuses.

“Sexual assault is not a crime of passion, it is a crime of violence,” Cook said. “Our event is about the awareness and prevention of sexual assault.”

The event began with a free speech alley held on the Main Patio. Students had a two-minute platform to speak on the issue.

Senior English major Kendall Banda and junior psychology major Brisa Gonzalez presented facts and statistics on sexual assaults on college campuses:
  • About 20 percent of women and 4 percent of men will be sexually assaulted while attending an institution of higher education.
  • The assailant is more often than not someone the victim knows.
  • An estimated one-third of people who were sexually abused as children will be assaulted as an adult.
  • About 32,000 pregnancies occur as a result of rape.
  • Most of these crimes often go unreported.
Danielle Banda, a UTRGV junior communication major, shared some common misconceptions about sexual assault and rape, and stressed that assailants will use a variety of manipulation tactics to commit their crime.
“People make statements like, ‘Look at the way she is dressed. Or, look how much she drinks. She’s asking for it.’ Those are false statements,” Banda said. “No one asked to be abused, injured or violated.”

The second part of the event continued in Salón Cassia, where a five-person panel answered questions about rape and sexual assault posed by student communication major moderators Ann Jacobo and Esai Torres.

The panel consisted of UTRGV Chief of Police Raul Munguia; Associate Professor of Philosophy Cynthia Jones; Valley Baptist Medical Center Forensic Nurse Examiner Laura Dominguez R.N.; UTRGV Director of the Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX Coordinator Alicia Morley; and Cameron County Assistant District Attorney Omar Saenz.

Munguia fielded the first question, which was about the number of sexual assault and rape cases during the school year at UTRGV.

“The numbers are mostly very low,” he said. “However, one of the things that we don’t track are assaults occurring outside of our jurisdiction. That is an issue and a challenge that we have.”
Munguia then was asked what steps a student should take to report an assault.

“If a victim is not comfortable with calling the police department, there are other avenues they can use,” he said.

A good alternative is to contact Student Health Services, or Student Rights and Responsibilities.

Moderators asked panelist Jones what steps an individual can take to prevent sexual assault or rape.

“I think that is a bad question,” Jones said, because the problem is with the rapist, not the victim.

“If you get assaulted, it’s not your fault,” she said. “We need to address the people who rape.”

Panelist Dominguez stressed the importance of seeking medical attention quickly after a sexual assault, and cited a 96-hour window for gathering medical evidence after a sexual assault or rape.

“There are studies that say maybe 120 hours, but the sooner the better,” she said.

ADA Saenz spoke to the long-term impact on the victim, and encouraged reporting rapes so the process of healing can begin.

“The number of ways it effects your life is major,” Saenz said. “I think what we can do as a panel, and as a service to young people, is to inform you.”

Saenz said many do not know what “consent” is; he defined it as two individuals who make a rational decision.