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Featured: Mónica Lugo of Brownsville recently made history at the 2019 American Advertising Awards® competition by becoming the first University of Texas Rio Grande Valley student to advance to nationals and to receive an award at that level. The ADDY Awards attracts nearly 35,000 professional and student entries annually. Lugo was one of 39 students in the country awarded a Silver. Photograph By PAUL CHOUY

Featured: Mónica Lugo of Brownsville recently made history at the 2019 American Advertising Awards® competition by becoming the first University of Texas Rio Grande Valley student to advance to nationals and to receive an award at that level. The ADDY Awards attracts nearly 35,000 professional and student entries annually. Lugo was one of 39 students in the country awarded a Silver.

Photograph By PAUL CHOUY

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Regents make UT Austin more affordable as students from families earning up to $65K will have all tuition, fees covered beginning Fall 2020

By KAREN ADLER

The University of Texas System Board of Regents has made an investment in the future for students at UT Austin that will increase tuition assistance for those from middle- and low-income families and make the state’s flagship research university even more affordable.’

Under the leadership of Chairman Kevin Eltife and Chancellor James B. Milliken, the regents voted unanimously Tuesday, July 9, 2019 to establish a $160 million endowment from a distribution of the state’s Permanent University Fund that will generate money for financial assistance beginning in Fall 2020.

“Recognizing both the need for improved access to higher education and the high value of a UT Austin degree, we are dedicating a distribution from the Permanent University Fund to establish an endowment that will directly benefit students and make their degrees more affordable,” Eltife said after the vote. “This will benefit students of our great state for years to come.”

The new endowment will be used to expand UT Austin’s Texas Advance Commitment program for in-state undergraduate students to:

• Completely cover tuition and fees for students from families that earn up to $65,000 a year who have financial need; and

• Provide some assured tuition support to students from families with incomes of up to $125,000 who have financial need.

The median household income in Texas was $59,206 in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“I am grateful to the UT System Board of Regents and Chairman Kevin Eltife for prioritizing students and investing in the future of our great state,” said UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves. “Chairman Eltife understands that college affordability is one of the most critical issues affecting all Texans. Thanks to his leadership and the board’s action, this new endowment will go a long way toward making our university affordable for talented Texas students from every background and region.”

The regents’ vote represents one of the largest financial aid commitments to improve the predictability and affordability of higher education among the nation’s leading public research universities. The endowment will support undergraduates from across Texas, including first-year through fourth-year and transfer students.

“There is no greater engine of social and economic mobility than a college degree, and this initiative ensures that more Texans will benefit from a high-quality UT Austin education. The use of Permanent University Funds to invest directly in students demonstrates the strong commitment of the Board of Regents and UT Austin to the values of public higher education,” Milliken said.

The Permanent University Fund includes money from oil and gas royalties earned on state-owned land in West Texas.

UT Austin has the highest academic rankings among public universities in Texas and is consistently recognized as one of the world’s leading research universities, but it has an annual average undergraduate in-state tuition and fees of $10,314, which is less than 12 other Texas public universities, according to data published by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

In 2016, Fenves committed $7.5 million a year to increase financial aid for middle-income students. In 2018, he added an additional $5 million to that funding and launched the first phase of the Texas Advance Commitment, which currently provides full tuition assistance for students from families earning up to $30,000 a year and guaranteed financial aid for qualified families earning up to $100,000. More than 4,000 students were supported through the Texas Advance Commitment during this past academic year, its first year of implementation.

In awarding financial aid to middle- and low-income students, the university will continue to draw from multiple sources, including federal Pell grants, and the TEXAS Grants program, which received additional support from the Texas Legislature this year. The funds from the new endowment will then be used to supplement grants and scholarships. The Texas Advance Commitment does not rely on loans or require students to pay back any funds.

This latest support from the regents will allow UT Austin to provide:

• Full tuition coverage to more than 8,600 undergraduates a year from families that earn up to $65,000 a year, and
• Assured tuition support to an additional 5,700 students from families that earn up to $125,000 a year.

This commitment to affordability represents a shared partnership among the university, state and federal governments, students and their families to cover the costs of a UT education and maintain the university as one of the best values in Texas and the U.S. In 2018, Kiplinger’s Best Value Colleges ranked UT Austin No. 8 in the nation.

More information on this announcement is available on an online video featuring Fenves at:

MÓNICA LUGO MAKES HISTORY AT UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE VALLEY BY EARNING SILVER IN NATIONAL AMERICAN ADVERTISING AWARDS® COMPETITION

Mónica Lugo of Brownsville, a graduate student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, recently made history at the 2019 American Advertising Awards® (ADDY) competition by becoming the first UTRGV student to advance to nationals and to receive an award at that level.

The ADDY Awards attracts nearly 35,000 professional and student entries annually. In the national tier, 68 Gold and Silver awards were granted in the student division, and Lugo was one of 39 students in the country awarded a Silver.

The American Advertising Awards® (AAA), also known as the ADDYs, is the advertising industry’s largest and most representative competition. The mission of the AAA competition is to recognize and reward the creative spirit of excellence in the art of advertising.

In the three-tier competition, Lugo competed in the Illustration Campaign category, Student Division.

Her series, Primitive, consisted of four pieces featuring abstract shapes and modern hieroglyphics, which were part of a 14-piece series – one semester of work for her graduate school project.

“The fact that it was received so well was very encouraging,” Lugo said. “I was honored to win it for our school … and for the designing School of Art.”

She was entered in the local tier by Ping Xu, UTRGV Assistant Professor of Graphic Design, and earned a Gold Award, as well as a Judges Award, a higher level of honor, ranking above the Gold Award.

She then advanced to the regional tier, where she once again took the Gold, which meant she could advance to the national leg of the competition. That made her the first UTRGV student to be able to compete at nationals.

The national ceremony was June 7, 2019 in Hollywood, Florida, where Lugo found out she had won the Silver Award in her category.

The Artistic Journey

To prepare for her Primitive series, Lugo said she had constructive guidance, critiques and mentorship from a variety of professors, including Xu.

“It is such an honor for UTRGV and for Mónica to receive this national award,” Xu said. “As her mentor on her winning artwork, we guided Mónica’s output forward with critiques and suggestions born of our experience.”

Xu said Primitive is an example of the minimal, yet bold style of Lugo’s artwork, and the series interprets and presents modern graphic design trends.

Although her passion for graphic design was evident as far back as her days in the Brownsville school district’s fine arts program, she said, much of her passion and knowledge for the medium blossomed in UTRGV’s Graphic Design program. And as she continues working toward an MFA in Graphic Design, she also is working toward a future career as a teacher in the Rio Grande Valley, which she feels has potential in the graphic design industry.

“When I started my undergrad, I didn’t even know how to use Adobe Illustrator, yet what I submitted to the ADDYs was done using that program,” Lugo said. “My professors all taught me so much. They’ve always been there to help me with anything that I need, and I feel like I owe it all to UTRGV.”

About UTRGV

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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Cinthia Monsiváis contributed to this article. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories which affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).

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