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UTRGV opens U Central at Edinburg, Brownsville campuses to serve as convenient one-stop shop for students; President Bailey to appear on Texas Tribune Festival in Austin on Saturday, October 17

Featured: María González, a Student Assistant with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valle, signs in a student at U Central on Monday, October 12, 2015, at the UTRGV Student Services Building on the Edinburg Campus. U Central is a one-stop shop on both the Edinburg and Brownsville campuses that works with various offices to centralize services via one point of contact.
Photograph By PAUL CHOUY

Gone are the days when students have to wait in multiple long lines to get answers to their questions on financial aid, registration, enrollment and other issues. Students at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley now can receive assistance at its new one-stop shop – called U Central – on both the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses. On Monday, October 12, UTRGV celebrated the official opening of U Central with two ribbon-cutting ceremonies – one in the morning at El Gran Patio on the Brownsville Campus, and one in the afternoon outside the Student Services Building on the Edinburg Campus. U Central has been assisting students since August. UTRGV President Guy Bailey said U Central enables the university to achieve its primary goal of student success. “You need to have processes that help students get registered, get their financial aid, get in the right classes, meet advisers. And they need to be able to do that in as streamlined a fashion as possible,” Bailey said. “U Central provides that with cross-trained staff, technology and technological solutions to things. And it makes our goal really simple.” Bailey, the founding president of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, will be participating in a panel discussion during the Texas Tribune Festival on Saturday, October 17, at The University of Texas at Austin. The panel starts at 4:25 p.m. at the Student Activity Center Auditorium. The topic is “Price vs. Cost vs. Value.” Joining Bailey on the panel are Gregory Fenves, president of The University of Texas at Austin; Brenda Hellyer, chancellor of San Jacinto College; U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, and Renue Khator, chancellor of the University of Houston System and president of the University of Houston. Texas Tribune reporter Matthew Watkins will serve as moderator. Members of UTRGV’s Student Government Association will attend the festival to represent the university: Denisse Molina Castro, Vice President of the Brownsville campus; Alondra Galván, chair of the Senate; Nicholas Hill, senator at-large; and Marc Roque, senator for Liberal Arts.

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UTRGV opens U Central at Edinburg, Brownsville campuses to serve as convenient one-stop shop for students; President Bailey to appear on Texas Tribune Festival in Austin on Saturday, October 17

By JENNIFER L. BERGHOM
and
VICKY BRITO

Gone are the days when students have to wait in multiple long lines to get answers to their questions on financial aid, registration, enrollment and other issues.

Students at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley now can receive assistance at its new one-stop shop – called U Central – on both the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses.

On Monday, October 12, UTRGV celebrated the official opening of U Central with two ribbon-cutting ceremonies – one in the morning at El Gran Patio on the Brownsville Campus, and one in the afternoon outside the Student Services Building on the Edinburg Campus. U Central has been assisting students since August.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey said U Central enables the university to achieve its primary goal of student success.

“You need to have processes that help students get registered, get their financial aid, get in the right classes, meet advisers. And they need to be able to do that in as streamlined a fashion as possible,” Bailey said. “U Central provides that with cross-trained staff, technology and technological solutions to things. And it makes our goal really simple.”

Dr. Magdalena Hinojosa, UTRGV Associate Vice President for Student Enrollment, said having a one-stop shop for students has been on her wish list for a long time.

“We wanted an area for students to be able to go so that they are not sent from place to place. But more importantly, we wanted them to speak to one individual,” she said.

Though her dream of centralizing student assistance has taken many years to become a reality, building the centers took much less time, thanks to teamwork from administrators and staff from both campuses, she said.

“I’ve worked for universities for more than 20 years and I’ve never seen anything done so fast when it comes to construction. We are really pleased and have a lot of people to thank,” she said.

At U Central, staff members are cross-trained to handle a variety of student services, such as admissions, enrollment, registration and financial aid, so they can help students in one visit. Each center has a waiting area for students.

For students who need to take care of other business, U Central staff can send a text message to students to let them know when they are ready to be helped.

Xinmin Chen, UTRGV Business Analyst in Student Enrollment, developed the text message feature, which allows students to sign up for services in U Central so they not only will be able to see where they stand in line on the in-office screen, but also will get a text message when it’s their turn to meet with a representative.

Since opening in August, more than 17,000 students from the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses have received help from staff at U Central in a three-week period, Hinojosa said.

Students said they like having just one place to go to receive assistance.

Genesis Flores, a 20-year-old junior from La Joya who is studying political science and public relations, said the new setup is far more convenient for students than it was before. She especially liked being able to get a text message, so didn’t have to wait in line and could get more done.

“Before, everything was divided into different sections and you were divided by a line in different rooms. So, I really like this facility because it just keeps everything in one area,” Flores said.

Flores said she got help with her financial aid at U Central.

Rodrigo Gonzalez, a 26-year-old senior from Mexico City who is studying manufacturing engineering and management, said U Central staff helped him reconcile a problem with a class credit transfer to his UTRGV record.

“We get more attention, more help, and it’s all about students,” he said of U Central.

U Central is located at The Tower, Main 1.100, on the Brownsville Campus, and on the first floor of the Student Services Building on the Edinburg Campus.

It is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in Brownsville; and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday in Edinburg.

For more information, call (888) 882-4016 or email UCentral@utrgv.edu.

UTRGV PRESIDENT BAILY TO PARTICIPATE IN PANEL AT THE TEXAS TRIBUNE FESTIVAL

Bailey, the founding president of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, will be participating in a panel discussion during the Texas Tribune Festival on Saturday, October 17, at The University of Texas at Austin.

The panel starts at 4:25 p.m. at the Student Activity Center Auditorium.

The topic is “Price vs. Cost vs. Value.”

Joining Bailey on the panel are Gregory Fenves, president of The University of Texas at Austin; Brenda Hellyer, chancellor of San Jacinto College; U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, and Renue Khator, chancellor of the University of Houston System and president of the University of Houston.

Texas Tribune reporter Matthew Watkins will serve as moderator.

Members of UTRGV’s Student Government Association will attend the festival to represent the university: Denisse Molina Castro, Vice President of the Brownsville campus; Alondra Galván, chair of the Senate; Nicholas Hill, senator at-large; and Marc Roque, senator for Liberal Arts.

The 2015 Texas Tribune Festival brings together some of the biggest names in politics to explore the issues currently affecting the state and nation.

This year, topics include the state’s new open carry law, school choice, college affordability, fracking, and the 2016 elections.

The festival runs Friday, October 16 through Sunday, October 18 on the UT Austin Campus.

THE TEXAS TRIBUNE: A BRIEF ORGANIZATIONAL OVERVIEW

The Texas Tribune is the only member-supported, digital-first, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

The Tribune was founded in 2009 by John Thornton (a venture capitalist in Austin for nearly 20 years and passionate believer in public media), Evan Smith (the veteran editor-in-chief of Texas Monthly and host of a weekly interview program on PBS stations), and Ross Ramsey (the owner and editor of Texas Weekly, a newsletter on politics and government).

The Texas Tribune and its destination website were launched in November 2009, thanks to $4 million in private contributions as seed funding, a small band of talented computer programmers and some of the most accomplished journalists in the state.

Now with a staff of nearly 50 dedicated reporters, editors, technologists, designers and business leaders, the Tribune has continued to advance its mission of bringing greater transparency and accountability to public policy, politics and government through news, data and events.

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