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The University of Texas-Pan American has reached another milestone this fall with a total student enrollment of more than 20,000—the most in the institution's 86-year history. This number also includes a record 3,500 entering freshmen.
The student influx is welcome news to President Robert S. Nelsen, who mused the university literally "is bursting at the seams."
“Reaching 20,000 plus students at UTPA is an important milestone because it means that the university has truly been recognized by students, parents and high school counselors for the excellent education that we provide," Nelsen said. “No one needs to leave the (Rio Grande) Valley to get an outstanding university education; as the billboards say, ‘It's all right here.’”
Semester credit hours also jumped to just under 230,000, an increase of more than 11,000 over Fall 2012. The largest growth in enrollment occurred in the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the College of Science and Mathematics, with enrollment increases of more than 11 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively. The College of Health Sciences and Human Services continued to be the largest college at UTPA with more than 4,300 students.
UTPA offered almost $83 million in scholarships and financial aid to qualifying students so far this fall. For the 2012-2013 school year, UTPA awarded more than $153.4 million.
Magdalena Hinojosa, senior associate vice president for enrollment services, attributes the growth to several factors.
“We really placed an emphasis on strategic recruiting practices, along with a great emphasis on retention of our current students,” she said. “And then there’s quite a bit of excitement about the new university, too.”
There was also considerable planning and coordination with academic affairs to prepare for the enrollment increase.
“We not only increased the number of courses that we are offering,” Hinojosa said. “We’ve also added more evening and Friday afternoon classes. We’re even offering classes on Saturdays to both accommodate the enrollment growth but also to better serve our students.”
The University of Texas at Brownsville has also seen a significant enrollment increase to over 8,400 students this fall. This latest landmark for both universities shows that projected student enrollment for the new university, which is slated to open in Fall 2015 with almost 28,000 students, will most likely well exceed that projection.
"Como digo todo el tiempo, 'Somos familia,' y estamos trabajando bien duro para cambiar esta región (As I always say, we're family, and we are working really hard to change this region), and it's happening," Nelsen said.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.