Patrick Gonzales is the Vice President for University Marketing and Communications at UTRGV. He has been with the university since it opened in 2015.
RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – OCTOBER 2023 – UTRGV has amassed an impressive list of successes since it first opened just eight years ago, culminating in a 2023 already packed with top university rankings.
UTRGV President Guy Bailey said the growing list of kudos and high rankings punctuates student success as the university’s top priority.
“These rankings show that at UTRGV, we have stayed true to our core values as we work toward an increasingly prosperous future for our Valley community. Vaquero Nation truly is the Future of Texas.”
— UTRGV President Guy Bailey
The university community in partnership with the Rio Grande Valley community are committed to success – personal, academic and geographic, he said.
“Our students and families, our faculty and staff all demonstrate the kind of investment you need to succeed at the highest levels,” Bailey said. “They believe in the transformative power of higher education.”
RISING IN THE RANKINGS
That widespread commitment to academic success is how UTRGV – an eight-year-old dark horse in a field of long-established, well-funded thoroughbreds like Texas A&M, UT Austin, Baylor, Rice and Texas Tech – was ranked the top university in Texas in Washington Monthly magazine’s annual college guide and rankings. Instead of rewarding schools for their prestige, wealth and exclusivity, the magazine gives points to universities that help non-wealthy students earn remunerative degrees, encourage students to vote and serve their country, and produce the scholars that drive economic growth and human betterment.
In its eight years, UTRGV has become a university that is not just accessible and affordable, but one that offers high-quality education. Washington Monthly rankings singled out UTRGV in several other areas:
1st in Texas, 2nd in the country among public schools for performance of Pell Grant students.
1st in Texas, 4th in the nation among public schools for net price of attendance.
1st in Texas, 9th in the nation among public schools for social mobility.
Also, this fall, DegreeChoices.com ranked UTRGV No. 1 among large Texas public universities for best relative economic value, and No. 15 overall nationally — one spot ahead of Vanderbilt.
And when it comes to this year’s U.S. News rankings, UTRGV improved an unprecedented 72 positions nationally, ranking sixth among Texas public schools – the university’s highest-ever ranking.
Texas Sen. Juan Jesús “Chuy” Hinojosa, who represents the Rio Grande Valley and obtained his bachelor’s degree from UTRGV legacy institution Pan American University, said UTRGV has exceeded expectations during its first eight years.
“UTRGV is not only uniting and transforming the Rio Grande Valley, but President Bailey and his team are putting us on the national map,” Hinojosa said. “The Valley is a better place because of UTRGV, and the university is only getting started. I can’t wait to see what they are able to accomplish in the future and how they will continue to uplift South Texas over the next decade.”
PROVIDING MORE OPPORTUNITIES
Part of the plan to help UTRGV succeed has been in the creation of new degree programs.
Since 2015, UTRGV has created 16 bachelor’s, 15 master’s, five doctoral and four professional degrees. Among the new degree programs are the UTRGV School of Medicine, which has been critical in helping the region address healthcare disparities, and the UTRGV School of Podiatric Medicine, the only one in Texas and one of only 10 in the country.
Moreover, UTRGV has been able to achieve new heights while having one of the lowest average net academic costs in the country.
The university has not raised tuition and mandatory academic fees since the 2021-22 academic year. That year, UTRGV’s average total academic cost was $9,042 for full-time resident undergraduates, the lowest among UT System’s eight academic institutions. For full-time resident undergraduates who received financial aid, the average net academic cost was $1,245 per year, again, the lowest in the UT System.
Overall, 86.2% of UTRGV’s full-time resident undergraduates received need-based aid in 2021-22. And all 86.2 % had their tuition and academic mandatory fees covered.
UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken said creation of UTRGV was historic because it established a new model for public higher education in Texas.
“Under President Bailey’s leadership, the university has worked ambitiously to provide new opportunities for Valley residents through high-quality education that is affordable and accessible, with campuses located throughout the region,” Milliken said. “Additionally, the UTRGV School of Medicine and its clinical arm, UT Health RGV, are actively shaping a healthier future for the Valley's growing population."