UTEP Awarded National Designation for Economic Impact on the Paso del Norte Region
Last Updated on November 10, 2020 at 12:00 PM
Originally published November 10, 2020
By Christina Rodriguez
The University of Texas at El Paso earned the Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) University designation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and its Commission on Economic and Community Engagement (CECE) for the positive economic impact the University has had on the Paso del Norte region.
UTEP is the first IEP Designee of 2020 and the first University of Texas System institution to receive this designation. IEP designated institutions have demonstrated a meaningful, substantial and sustainable commitment to regional economic engagement.
“UTEP has long identified as a community-engaged institution,” said John Wiebe, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs. “This designation recognizes our commitment not only to the educational, cultural and social prosperity of the region, but it speaks to the hard work of our faculty, staff and students to build UTEP’s role as an economic anchor for the community.”
APLU and its CECE established the IEP Universities Program to help higher education institutions strengthen their strategy and practices in economic and community development while recognizing institutions that are exemplary in their commitment to regional economic engagement.
Fewer than 70 institutions have earned this distinguished recognition by working with on-campus (faculty, staff, leadership and students) and off-campus (businesses, local and state government, communities and others) stakeholders to complete a rigorous self-study of their economic engagement enterprise that allows them to identify their strengths and areas of growth and improvement in economic engagement.
UTEP’s Mike Loya Center for Innovation and Commerce, under the direction of Michael Garcia, led efforts to recognize the University for its economic contributions to the region by undergoing an extensive two-year introspection process to investigate UTEP’s economic impact on the region during the past three decades.
“We went back 30 years and looked at all the things UTEP had done that had economic impact in this region, particularly, economic impact at the personal level,” Garcia said. “Things like social mobility, job creation, opportunity creation and access for more people to come to the University to get an education. We found a wealth of information supporting the idea that UTEP has had a tremendous impact on economic prosperity and development in the region.”
Once designated, institutions implement their growth and improvement plan and participate in a variety of outreach efforts to elevate the visibility of their work in economic engagement, regionally and nationally.
Upon earning this distinction, institutions continue to learn and benefit from the IEP Universities program by joining a vibrant and internationally recognized community of practice around economic engagement. They also become eligible to compete for prestigious awards, only available to IEP designees.
The 2020 cohort was recognized during the APLU annual meeting — the world's largest convening of public university presidents, provosts, vice presidents, and other senior administrators. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting was held virtually Nov. 10.
“Many communities are reeling from the economic devastation wrought by the global pandemic,” APLU President Peter McPherson said. “As leaders in economic development, this year’s designees and award winners are well-positioned to play an important role in our economic recovery and help drive longer term economic growth and prosperity.”