The University of Texas–Pan American (UTPA) is a state university located in Edinburg, Texas. Founded in 1927, it is a component institution of the University of Texas System. The university serves the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas with baccalaureate, masters-level, and doctoral degrees. The Carnegie Foundation classifies UTPA as a "doctoral research university". Since the institution's founding, it has grown from 200 students to over 19,000, making UTPA the tenth-largest university in the state of Texas. The majority of these students are natives of the Rio Grande Valley. UTPA also operates an Upper Level Studies Center in Rio Grande City, Starr County, Texas.
Founded in 1927 as a two-year junior college administered by the Edinburg School District.
Designated as a junior college in 1933 and admitted to the Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools of Southern States.
Hidalgo County permitted to hold referendum for a four-year university in 1951; school became Pan American Regional College on December 20, 1951. Name changed to Pan American College following January 1952, appointment of a Board of Regents. Became 22nd member institution of the Texas System of Colleges and Universities in 1965, as a state senior college. Approved to offer graduate programs in 1970, beginning with Master of Arts, Master of Education, and Master of Science.
Achieved full university status and changed name to PAU. In 20-year period from 1965 to 1984, enrollment grew from 2,000 to nearly 10,000. Established second campus at Brownsville in 1973 (now University of Texas at Brownsville). In December 1988, board members reached merger agreement with the University of Texas System pending state legislative approval (one of a series of similar mergers among state universities during that time period), granted in September 1989.
Adopted present name subsequent to merger, preserving the nearly 40-year legacy of the Pan American name.
On December 6, 2012, University of Texas regents approved a proposal to merge UTPA, the University of Texas-Brownsville, and a planned medical school into one regional institution.
UTPA's main campus is located in the western part of Edinburg, and comprises 289 acres.
The majority of academic buildings are enclosed by or span a covered walk way that spans the perimeter of the original campus. In 2007 UTPA added a new wellness center, and dormitory (Unity Dormitory 2007). On the northeast corner of campus is the Edinburg Baseball Stadium, which is also the home of the Edinburg Roadrunners an independent baseball team. The stadium was completed in 2001.
The Starr Country Upper-Level Center is located in Rio Grande City. The center opened in 2003 and was rededicated and moved to a new location in 2009. Most courses offered are in bilingual education. There are also limited courses in criminal justice, history, English, and anthropology. As of 2009 over 200 students have graduated from the Starr County Upper-Level Center.
Established in 1973, the Coastal Studies Laboratory (CSL) is UTPA's marine biology laboratory located in the city of South Padre Island, which is located approximately 70 miles east of main campus. The CSL offers graduate level biology courses and houses several ecological programs that are independent of UTPA.
The McAllen Teaching Site was opened in 2009 in McAllen, Texas and offers education and business courses. The site primarily serves professionals in the city of McAllen.
The university offers a wide variety of degrees spanning across seven colleges. Currently, there are 56 bachelor's degrees, 56 master's degrees, three doctoral degrees, and two cooperative doctoral programs.
The University includes the following seven academic divisions:
U.S. News & World Report rates UTPA as a tier 2 University.
In Forbes' 2009 best college rankings that heavily weighted proportion of graduates who obtain a job upon graduation, UTPA ranked 32 among public universities and 218 among all universities. Among public schools in Texas, UTPA ranked only behind the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M.
In 2009 UTPA ranked behind only Florida International University for bachelor degrees awarded to Hispanic students.
According to the U.S. government, among schools with an enrollment of at least 5,000 students, UTPA ranked as the 2nd most affordable school in the nation.
Historically, UTPA has had open enrollment such that any student able to graduate from an approved public or private high school was granted admission to the University. This policy was implemented by former president Miguel Nevarez. After Nevarez retired UTPA moved towards minimum admission standards. The minimum standards for Fall 2011 admission are a diploma from a recognized high school and a combined Math/Verbal SAT score of 860 or an ACT score of 18. Additionally the minimum criteria will be met with a SAT score of 810 or ACT score of 17 if the applicant is in the top third of his/her graduating class or an SAT score of 760 or ACT score of 16 will suffice if the applicant is in the top quarter of his/her graduating class. Any student who graduates from a recognized Texas high school as a member of the top 10% of his/her graduating class is guaranteed admission.
In 1997, UTPA started the University Scholars Program in an attempt to retain top local high school students. The program is an objective academic scholarship based on three tiers. The first tier is high school graduation standing. The second tier is advanced placement testings. The third tier is standardized testing scores. UTPA will guarantee full tuition funding for any student who meets one of many objective minimum requirements in all three tiers.
UTPA's first to second year retention rate for full-time students is 71%. UTPA's 4-year graduation rate is 13% and the 6-year graduation rate is 36%. The proportion of students who receive some sort of financial aid is 86%.
All students under the age of 21 who have earned fewer than 30 credit hours are required to reside on campus unless they are married, a parent or have a permanent residence within 60 miles of campus. UTPA offers 3 residence halls and 1 community of on-campus apartments. Troxel Hall and Heritage Hall are the oldest residence halls on campus and until 2000 were the only residence options for students. Heritage Hall is an all-female residence hall. At the end of 2009 Troxel Hall closed due to low capacity. In 2000 the Bronc Village Apartments were completed on north campus and offered students 1, 2 and 4 bedroom options. In fall 2006 Unity Hall was opened as the first new residence hall in more than 30 years; it has 204 double rooms and is divided into male and female wings. Heritage Hall, Unity Hall and the Bronc Village apartments combined can hold approximately 800 students
The University of Texas–Pan American currently sponsors eight men's and eight women's teams in NCAA sanctioned sports with men's and women's soccer to be added by 2014:
The University of Texas–Pan American competes in NCAA Division I, in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). It is one of five schools in the University of Texas System that compete in Division I. The other UT institutions that do so are Austin, El Paso, San Antonio, and Arlington.