Humanities Texas congratulates board member Dr. Ricardo Romo on receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award from The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Romo is serving his tenth year as president of The University of Texas at San Antonio and sits on the board of Humanities Texas. Below, courtesy of Dr. Romo, is his speech from the awards ceremony in Austin on October 17, 2008:
"Recently, I was honored and humbled to be recognized as an Outstanding Distinguished Alumni at The University of Texas at Austin. It means a lot to be honored by a university that has given me such a solid foundation and has enabled me to accomplish so many things in my life. For that, I will be eternally grateful.
You can say that burnt orange and white have been in my blood since birth. My folks had been married a year when the Army Air Corps sent my Dad to Austin to study radio communication. He studied in barracks at UT where the Harry Ransom Center is currently located. Mom became pregnant with me that year. She absolutely loved UT, and in her honor, I enrolled in the university she had always hoped I would attend.
I was fortunate to receive a four-year track scholarship and a lot of needed mentoring from my track coaches. They kept me going when I didn't think I could and encouraged me every step of the way to reach further than my potential.
My leadership skills and social network were formed through various campus organizations such as Cowboys and Friars and the Chilean Exchange, which gave me an international perspective on politics and education. All of these experiences provided a firm foundation and encouraged me to continue my education through graduate school.
UT was the perfect place for me. My love of history was stoked even more through offerings at the University. And again, I found wonderful mentors such as Joe B. Frantz, Robert Cotner, Robert Divine, Dr. Norman Brown, Dr. Bill Livingston, Dr. George I. Sanchez, and Dr. Americo Paredes, among others.
I went on to graduate school and later began a career in academics that has been interesting, exciting, and rewarding. In 1980, I returned to UT-Austin as an associate professor after working thirteen years in academia in California. It was then that UT provided me another mentor in President Peter Flawn. A few years later, I was appointed to the Athletics Council and later as Vice Provost.
The years at UT prepared me for my next great challenge of heading up a growing new campus in my hometown of San Antonio. That campus is The University of Texas at San Antonio.
With the help of a great administration, we have accomplished many things. Enrollment has increased by 50 percent since my arrival in 1999. We have expanded our Ph.D. programs from three to twenty, expanded our academic programs from four to eight colleges, more than doubled our scholarships, doubled the number of endowed professors and increased our endowments from $21 million to $53 million in the last five years. I am proud of our 75,000 alumni who span the globe and who are increasingly taking positions of leadership in their places of work. And I am especially pleased with the progress we are making in reaching our goal of transforming UTSA into a national research university.
Because of the foundation and mentoring I received at UT-Austin, I am determined to ensure that all UTSA students receive an excellent undergraduate and graduate education, have access to top faculty and the opportunity to take part in and learn from important research that positively impacts the global community. It is my hope that their lives will be transformed as mine has been.
Receiving the Outstanding Distinguished Alumni award could not have been possible without an army of people who have helped shaped my life. But the most important person is my wife, Harriett. I share this award with her and thank her for standing by my side through the thick and thin of our forty-one years. I also recognize my mother; son, Carlos, and his wife, Lynsey; and my daughter, Ana, and her husband, Tim. All have brought joy to my life and have been among my greatest supporters.
I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to realize a dream and not only attend but graduate from a great university.
I thank the alumni association for this honor and will forever hold UT-Austin in my heart.