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Featured: Seated, second from right: Newly-elected Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina, during a recent planning session of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce 2017-2018 Board of Directors, which took place on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg. Also in this image with Molina, who was elected the city’s mayor on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, are some of the other members of that business organization’s leadership. Seated from left: Hiren Govind representing Town Place Suites by Marriott; Jacob De León representing Memorial Funeral Home and Past Chairman of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; Mayor-elect Richard Molina representing Odyssey Primary Home Care; and Verónica Gonzáles representing The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Standing, from left, are: Michael Williamson representing PlainsCapital Bank; Julio Carranza representing Landmark Mortgage; Kelly Salazar representing Linebarger Goggan Blair and Sampson; Cris Torres  representing Greater State Bank; and Elva Jackson Garza representing Edwards Abstract and Title Co.

Photograph By RONNIE LARRALDE

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, which has its largest campus and a School of Medicine in Edinburg, is scheduled to receive a major boost in its academic programs on Wednesday, November 8, and Thursday, November 9, 2017, when the UT System Board of Regents meet in Austin to consider adding a Doctor of Philosophy degree program in Mathematics and Statistics with Interdisciplinary Applications, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. A Doctor of Philosophy is the highest academic degree awarded by universities in most countries (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_of_Philosophy). Also on the agenda affecting the Edinburg campus are plans to lease approximately 6,200 square feet of space located in the University Library building and at athletic venues on the campus at 1201 West University Drive, and to buy, at fair market value, property located at 2802 Fountain Plaza Blvd. to be used for future programmed campus expansion, including medical office and educational use by the institution’s doctorate program in clinical psychology. UTRGV’s College of Liberal Arts is currently in the process of  developing a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology. Currently, UTRGV offers four doctoral programs: Business Administration (PhD)Curriculum and Instruction (EdD)Educational Leadership (EdD), and Rehabilitation Counseling (PhD). It also offers two cooperative doctoral programs, Pharmacy (PharmD) and Physics (PhD). The Doctor of Philosophy degree program in Mathematics and Statistics with Interdisciplinary Applications would be designed to meet the needs of UTRGV students interested in a wide range of careers, including those in academia, industry, and government, according to the agenda packet of the regents’ meeting, which will occur on the second floor of the UT System Building, 210 West 7th St., in Austin. An important characteristic of the proposed program is its emphasis on applications of mathematics and statistics that cut across biological, environmental, life, physical and social sciences, engineering, medicine, and finance fields. The Edinburg Mayor, the Edinburg City Council, and the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and its Board of Directors lobby the Texas Legislature and the UT System Board of Regents on matters that benefit and protect UTRGV and its School of Medicine, which have major campuses in the city. The Edinburg EDC, of which Agustín García is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor-elect Richard Molina as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr., as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Ruppert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members.

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Edinburg EDC: UT System Regents set to approve plan for PhD program with emphasis on mathematics and statistics important to students in engineering, medicine, finance and other fields

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, which has its largest campus and a School of Medicine in Edinburg, is scheduled to receive a major boost in its academic programs on Wednesday, November 8, and Thursday, November 9, 2017, when the UT System Board of Regents meet in Austin to consider adding a Doctor of Philosophy degree program in Mathematics and Statistics with Interdisciplinary Applications, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced.

Also on the agenda affecting the Edinburg campus are plans to lease approximately 6,200 square feet of space located in the University Library building and at athletic venues on the campus at 1201 West University Drive, and to buy, at fair market value, property located at 2802 Fountain Plaza Blvd. to be used for future programmed campus expansion, including medical office and educational use by the institution’s doctorate program in clinical psychology.

A Doctor of Philosophy is the highest academic degree awarded by universities in most countries (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_of_Philosophy).

Currently, UTRGV offers four doctoral programs: Business Administration (PhD)Curriculum and Instruction (EdD)Educational Leadership (EdD); and Rehabilitation Counseling (PhD).

It also offers two cooperative doctoral programs: Pharmacy (PharmD) and Physics (PhD).

The Doctor of Philosophy degree program in Mathematics and Statistics with Interdisciplinary Applications would be designed to meet the needs of UTRGV students interested in a wide range of careers, including those in academia, industry, and government, according to the agenda packet of the regents’ meeting, which will occur on the second floor of the UT System Building, 210 West 7th St., in Austin.

The Edinburg Mayor, the Edinburg City Council, and the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and its Board of Directors lobby the Texas Legislature and the UT System Board of Regents on matters that benefit and protect UTRGV and its School of Medicine, which have major campuses in the city.

The Edinburg EDC, of which Agustín García is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council.

The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor-elect Richard Molina as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr., as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Ruppert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members.

The Academic Affairs Committee, led by Regent Ernest Aliseda of McAllen, who is the Acting Chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, is set to review the UT System recommendation designed to lead to a Doctor of Philosophy degree program in Mathematics and Statistics with Interdisciplinary Applications at UTRGV.

If approved by that committee when it hears the measure at around 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, the full nine-member UT System Board of Regents onThursday, November 9, 2017, could give the needed final support for the plan.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey will address the Academic Affairs Committee during the Wednesday, November 8, 2017 portion of the meeting.

More details on the UTRGV Edinburg issues, along with other UTRGV projects elsewhere in the Valley, and available online and for viewing by linking to the Board of Regents’ website. All times listed in the agenda are approximate.

According to the UT System Board of Regents agenda packet, the following background and recommendations for the Edinburg campus item include these highlights:

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN MATHEMATICS AND STATISTICS

The Chancellor concurs in the recommendation of the Deputy Chancellor, the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and the institutional president that the UT System Board of Regents approve preliminary authority for UT Rio Grande Valley to create a Doctor of Philosophy degree program in Mathematics and Statistics with Interdisciplinary Applications; and notification of the proposal to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Background Information

The School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences in the College of Sciences at UT Rio Grande Valley proposes to establish a new doctoral program in Mathematics and Statistics with Interdisciplinary Applications.

The proposed program will have specializations in pure and applied mathematics, computational mathematics, and statistics and is designed to meet the needs of students interested in a wide range of careers, including those in academia, industry, and government.

An important characteristic of the proposed program is its emphasis on applications of mathematics and statistics that cut across biological, environmental, life, physical and social sciences, engineering, medicine, and finance fields.

Student dissertations will encompass theoretical and applied research as well as the discovery and application of effective mathematical models and advanced data analysis methods and tools to address important interdisciplinary problems in agriculture, business, engineering, the environment, health care, medicine, and the social and behavioral sciences.

The projected job market appears to be strong nationally and in Texas for individuals with an advanced degree in mathematics and statistics.

Between 2012 and 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 33% increase in the number of jobs for statisticians, a 16.4% increase in the number of jobs for postsecondary mathematics faculty, and a 30.2% increase in the number of jobs for operations research analysts, among other occupations for which math and statistics would be required skill sets.

In Texas, the need is projected to be even higher for certain professions: 33.8% increase for statisticians, 25% increase for postsecondary faculty, 45% increase for operations research analysts.

The core faculty who will support the program demonstrate high levels of research productivity in terms of publications and external funding. Once preliminary authority has been approved, UT Rio Grande Valley will submit the full degree program proposal for approval by the UT System Board of Regents and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

NEW LEASE FOR OPERATION OF CAMPUS BOOKSTORE

Also on the agenda affecting UTRGV in Edinburg is a measure seeking authorization to lease approximately 6,200 square feet of space located in the University Library building and at athletic venues on the campus at 1201 West University Drive in Edinburg, and approximately 15,800 square feet of space located at 2120 Gorgas Drive in Brownsville, for the operation of a campus bookstore. Lessee has operated a bookstore in these locations since 2015. The institution recently solicited competitive bids for a new operator and awarded the new contract to Follett Higher Education Group, Inc.

Annual base rent for the initial term will average approximately $258,000 ($11.73 per square foot) for a total base rental income of approximately $1,806,250 over the initial term of the lease.

Follett Higher Education Group, Inc. will pay UTRGV an annual percentage rent in an amount based on break points ranging from 15% to 20% of annual gross sales, excluding sales of academic materials. Follett Higher Education Group, Inc will be responsible for annual operating expenses totaling $455,000 over the lease term ($65,000 annually).

Follett Higher Education Group, Inc. will pay a $100,000 signing bonus to UTRGV.

Based on sales history, royalty payments for non-academic materials are estimated at $250,000 per year. Follett Higher Education Group, Inc. will contribute $450,000 in improvements to the lease spaces. Follett Higher Education Group, Inc. will pay UTRGV approximately $4,560,000 in base rent, tenant improvement contributions, operating expenses and estimated royalty payments on non-academic material.

FOUNTAIN PLAZA FUTURE PROGRAMMED CAMPUS EXPANSION

In addition, UT System regents will consider approving the authorization to purchase approximately 1.55 acres improved with a one-story medical and general office building located at 2802 Fountain Plaza Boulevard, Edinburg, Hidalgo County, Texas, from Ashley Fountain Group, Inc., for future programmed campus expansion, including office and clinical uses.

The Executive Director of Real Estate shall execute all documents, instruments, and other agreements, and to take all further actions deemed necessary or advisable to purchase the property. The improvements consist of an 8,100 square foot one-story medical office and general office building, and related surface parking facilities.

The property includes an adjacent vacant lot containing 0.74 of an acre.

This property is located near Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, UTRGV’s primary teaching hospital, and about three miles from UTRGV’s Edinburg campus.

The property will be used for future programmed campus expansion, including medical office and educational use by the institution’s planned doctorate program in clinical psychology.

UTRGV’s College of Liberal Arts is currently in the process of  developing a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology.

The clinical psychology program, once it receives approval from the UT System and appropriate accreditation agencies, will recruit highly qualified graduate students with diverse cultural backgrounds, and will educate those students to become research-oriented clinical psychologists with acquired clinical knowledge and skills specific to Hispanic populations.

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Patrick González contributed to this article. For more information on the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://edinburgedc.com or to http://www.facebook.com/edinburgedc

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