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UTRGV Named Finalist for Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Star Awards

UTRGV’s student leadership retreats and activities, like the one shown here on June 1, 2017, help prepare students for success by focusing on critical development issues like teamwork and empowerment. Photo: David Pike/UTRGV Archive

by J. Edward Moreno

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has named The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley one of eight finalists for the 2017 Star Awards.

The board received a total 44 nominations and 41 applications for this year’s Star Awards program. Institutions were chosen based on their contributions toward meeting one or more of the goals of the Texas higher education plan, 60x30TX, which aims to have 60 percent of the 25- to 34-year-old Texas population holding a certificate or degree by 2030.

UTRGV was commended for its tuition plan, advisement and outreach to support its 15-hour enrollment initiative. The university’s in-state tuition and fees cap at 12 hours per semester, and any additional courses a student enrolls in after 12 hours are free (excluding books and special course fees). So, a student enrolled in 15 hours pays nothing for the added course; a student enrolled in 18 hours gets the two extra classes free, etc.

Dr. Patricia Alvarez McHatton, interim provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at UTRGV, said the university strives to make higher education available for all students.

“At UTRGV, our main goal is to see students succeed,” she said. “Our tuition cap at 12 hours is designed to make college financially manageable for students, and to expedite the graduation process, which in turn paves the way to greater student success.”

The winner(s) of the Star Awards will be announced Dec. 1 during the annual Star Awards luncheon and ceremony in Austin.

The eight finalists are:

  • Austin Community College District – Accelerated Programmer Training.
  • Coastal Bend College – Pathways to Success for Students in Allied Health.
  • Odessa College – Eight-Week Terms: A Pathway to 60x30TX.
  • St. Philip’s College – Automotive Technology.
  • The University of Texas at Dallas – Undergraduate Success Scholars.
  • The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley – 15 to GRAD: Tuition Plan, Advising, and Outreach to Support 15-Hour Enrollment.
  • University of Houston – UH in 4.
  • University of Houston-Downtown – The Gateway Course Innovation Initiative.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.

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