New Semester Packs Plenty of Excitement
Last Updated on January 06, 2016 at 11:00 AM
Originally published January 06, 2017
By Daniel Perez and Lauren Macias-Cervantes
Thousands of students will return to campus to follow their dreams and ambitions starting Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. For Raul Cobos, this will be his last semester before graduation on Saturday, May 13.
"This is an intense feeling," said Cobos, an accounting major who was updating his business' Facebook page on a University Library computer. "UTEP brought me many opportunities to learn, travel and network. I'm going to have a better future because of UTEP." The start of a new semester, whether for new or returning students, always generates a sense of excitement, said Gary Edens, Ed.D., vice president for student affairs. Edens, an undergraduate at UTEP in the 1980s, also earned his master's and doctoral degrees at the University.
"The UTEP faculty and staff look forward to working with students in and out of the classroom as they get one semester closer to achieving their academic and professional goals," Edens said.
Activities Promote Well-Rounded Students
Other events scheduled during the spring semester have been organized to enhance the students' experience with leadership and community service, and their futures. Some significant institutional milestones also will be recognized.
- UTEP L.I.V.E. (Leadership. Innovation. Vision. Engagement.) is a day-long student conference on Feb. 24 that promotes University involvement through workshops and networking with campus peers.
- Project MOVE (Miner Opportunities for Volunteer Activities) is the University's annual day of community service. Approximately 2,000 UTEP students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends will disperse around the greater El Paso area on March 4 to assist nonprofit agencies with their missions to help the community.
- Several student-employer networking events that will promote job and internship opportunities will take place in February and March. Students should contact the University Career Center to learn the times and locations of these job fairs.
The new semester will be the final one at UTEP for Maria Gutierrez … at least for a while. The biology major plans to take a year off from school after she graduates in May 2017. Then her goal is to pursue a master's degree.
Gutierrez said she looks forward to her anatomy labs, but also to exploring the campus. The El Paso native lamented she only recently began to familiarize herself with UTEP's resources, such as the Student Recreation Center.
"I've learned that there is a lot to this campus that I never appreciated before," she said.
A silver, 6-foot tall chain-link fence is the only thing that separates a barren patch of land from the western gate to The University of Texas at El Paso, but during the spring 2017 semester, members of the Miner Nation will begin to see that lot transform into a highly anticipated addition to campus.
Construction of the $85 million Interdisciplinary Research Building will take its initial steps during the semester. It is among the highlights that UTEP students, faculty and staff will experience, along with the launch of a first-of-its-kind graduate degree for The University of Texas System, and several student-centered activities designed to enhance students' development.
Preliminary work on the Interdisciplinary Research Building (IDRB) job site is scheduled to begin in mid-April. Public and campus utility lines need to be moved to create a clear building pad for when construction starts in earnest during the summer, said Greg McNicol, associate vice president for business affairs – facilities management.
The initial work on the site at the southeast corner of University Avenue and Sun Bowl Drive should not affect pedestrian or vehicular travel, McNicol said.
The IDRB was designed as an enhanced research facility with a chameleon-like ability to change with the needs and disciplines of the researchers. The 158,800-square-foot complex will have three wings, with the tallest at five floors high. The first floor, which will be partially underground, will house core facilities and heavy equipment. The second floor will have a café, building visitor's center, galleries to showcase research, meeting room and an 80-seat auditorium. The top three floors will have labs and interdisciplinary research suites.
Construction should be completed in spring 2019 with occupation starting during the fall 2019 semester, McNicol said.
"The work that will be done this semester is a small step, but it is an essential step," McNicol said. "The fact that we will get underway is exciting."
New Degree to Enhance Marketability
The College of Science launches its innovative Master of Professional Science degree this semester. It is the University's 74th master's degree and the first-of-its-kind in the UT System. Participants will earn a pair of graduate certificates that each take from 15 to 18 credit hours. One would come from the College of Science and the other from a professional discipline in the college or another college at or outside UTEP that will complement the student's science training.
Robert Kirken, Ph.D., dean of the College of Science, and Nancy Marcus, Ph.D., associate dean of Science for Academic Programs, developed the interdisciplinary degree after many discussions with national employers.
"In the 21st-century economy, there is enormous demand for professionals who have a foundation in science," Kirken said. "We are constantly looking at satisfying future employment demand by projecting trends. This master's degree allows our students to blend their science knowledge with another discipline, like business, which we anticipate will make them more marketable and readily employable."
Students who are interested in the new degree should contact Marcus at email@example.com.