should take action immediately to enroll and to complete degree requirements timely. The “B-on-Time” program that I authored provides interest-free student loans that are forgiven for students who are graduated timely with at least a B average. This program enables us to help more students while motivating them to do more in the expected time frames for completing their respective degrees.
While it’s admittedly difficult to reduce your years of leadership and advocacy for the University to a single instance, can you point to one event in which you could clearly see the future of Laredo and South Texas change because of the University’s presence?
As TAMIU grows and increases the number of college graduates, I foresee a more robust economy with an improved quality of life that includes dramatically reduced drop-out rates, health problems, and crime in Laredo and South Texas. I truly believe that the long-term answer to all of our problems is education in general and higher education in particular. The event that is critical for this vision to materialize is a highly successful recruitment, retention, and timely graduation program.
What do you think is the single most troublesome challenge to higher education delivery at TAMIU and higher education institutions throughout Texas?
At times I think that there is an anti-intellectual attitude in Texas that is unhealthy for higher education. We need to elect local, state, and federal officials who understand the importance of first-class colleges and
universities and who will be leaders in our efforts to pass legislation and to secure funding for them. Our most troublesome challenge undoubtedly is dealing with those who do not understand and/or do not care and with those who are strictly provincial or parochial in supporting only their hometown institutions.
What is it about TAMIU that you feel sets it apart from other campuses and institutions that you have studied and advocated for in the Senate?
Texas A&M International University has a vision and mission that set it apart from other campuses and institutions in Texas. Its binational setting establishes it as a perfect living laboratory from which to gain international stature via exchange programs throughout the world. What’s more, its authorization to award joint degree programs with its counterparts throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada is as unique as it is promising. By collaborating not only internationally, but also locally with Laredo Community College and the Laredo Campus Extension of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, our University can be a leader and role model in this important arena.
You have watched the University grow from virtual infancy to status as the State’s first new University
campus in over 25 years. What would you like to see as you look to the future, immediate and long-term? Success. My dream is to see TAMIU make a difference by producing
a significantly higher number of highly educated, highly qualified graduates who will reflect superbly on their alma mater. Because its mission is international, not merely regional, it should excel and become the University of choice of students from throughout Texas, our country, and the world. This will require recruiting and retaining the best faculty members and fully developing our academic and library programs. If we have the best faculty and programs, more students will come.
Regionally, my dream is to see TAMIU engage in increasingly effective collaborative efforts with all other educational institutions so as to reduce their drop-out rates while increasing the University’s enrollment. Dual-enrollment programs should be an effective tool in helping students realize their higher education goals and realizing them in a more timely manner.
Do you have a favorite spot on campus and what about it makes it your favorite?
As a lover of books and libraries, I believe the library is the soul of an institution, and it is my “favorite spot.” My favorite view of the campus, however, is aerial -- a viewpoint from which I can enjoy its magnificent beauty, growth, and promise.