College of Liberal Arts Mission and Principles
The College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso is fully committed to UTEP’s unique mission of access and excellence. These are not just words but are foundational to UTEP’s emergence as a new model for the public university in the United States and beyond.
We are dedicated to the advancement of the El Paso/Juárez region through education, technological advancement, creative and artistic production, and the generation, interpretation, application, and dissemination of knowledge. As a public university, we are committed to providing opportunities for social mobility to residents of our region and, more broadly, to community well-being and social justice. Our mission of ensuring access is coupled with a commitment to excellence reflected in rigorous academic programs and enhanced experiences for personal and professional growth that prepare students and encourage faculty to make significant contributions to their professions, their communities, and the world.
We foster a climate of scholarly inquiry with a special focus on applying innovative interdisciplinary approaches to explore and address major issues that confront the binational, bilingual, and multicultural U.S.-Mexico border region.
We serve, welcome, and protect students, faculty, and community partners regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion (or none), age, disability, genetic information, veteran's status, sexual orientation or gender identity.
UTEP has been recognized nationally as the university that provides, by far, the greatest access to students from low-income family backgrounds and, particularly, to first-generation students. Because of this, our student body uniquely reflects our regional population in terms of ethnicity, income distribution, and other key socio-economic indicators. Unlike other universities that seek out students who they narrowly define as elite, we regard first-generation and low-income students as assets and not liabilities. They have diverse life experiences that provide unique riches that other universities can only envy.
Yet it is not enough to invite students onto our campus and into our classrooms. Access must be a two-way street. Our philosophy as encompassed in the UTEP EDGE is to get our students and faculty out of the classroom and into our communities, to give them new kinds of experiences that go beyond the usual university life. Learning in the liberal arts means going into the communities that we seek to understand and serve, not just to study them but to learn from them and, bolstered by cultural sensitivity, to provide novel insights and innovative resources that help them identify and achieve their individual and common goals.
To do this, we commit to the following principles:
One City – We are a university of El Paso/Juárez, and the surrounding colonias and regions of Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico. We refute the traditional approach, which emphasizes that foreign countries including Mexico supply us with paying students. Rather, we see the surrounding region, and all neighborhoods and colonias of El Paso/Juárez as part of our community. By moving across, and being active in all parts of the region, we seek to break down all barriers – physical, psychological, cultural, and social – between us.
Accompaniment – We seek to increase our presence in communities throughout our region, creating opportunities for our students and faculty to teach, research, and perform there. We do not tell the communities what they need but we ask them what their needs and dreams are. Together, we negotiate ways of doing research and service that are to our mutual benefit. We do not go into communities, “research” them, and leave. We stay, as long as we are welcome. We accompany. We serve.
Diversity – We welcome and seek out students, faculty, and partners from all communities. We respect and protect them regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion (or none), age, disability, genetic information, veteran's status, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Excellence is improved, not hindered by our principles of access. Uniquely in the United States, UTEP has shown this by achieving Carnegie R1 status while refusing to compromise our access mission. As a public university, we believe our research mission is enhanced by community engagement. In the humanities, social sciences, and the fine arts, our research mission is highly engaged with the quality of social life. Our research problems, human questions, and artistic expressions are rooted in our communities and in the communities of the world. While communities can provide human problems that we research, and opportunities for research funding, they also provide the data that enable us to disseminate knowledge in popular and academically-recognized publications of the highest quality. Public engagement also provides opportunities to participate in new forms of dissemination, such as podcasts, performance, and public exhibition. Excellence in service, teaching, and research are not mutually exclusive but complementary and reinforcing.