Dr. Juliet V. García, Humanities Texas board member and president of The University of Texas at Brownsville, was recently named one of Time magazine's ten best college presidents. Dr. García, the first Hispanic woman to serve as a college president, pioneered a partnership between UT Brownsville and Texas Southmost College, a community college where she served as president from 1986 to 1992, when she assumed the presidency of UTB. The partnership, designed to provide students with a seamless transition from community college to UT Brownsville, has been immensely successful. Under Dr. García's leadership, full-time student enrollment has nearly doubled, and UTB has significantly increased the number of baccalaureate and master's degrees it awards.
To say that UTB is "right next door" to Mexico is no exaggeration; the campus is literally blocks from the border. Dr. García, who was born in Brownsville, reflects the student body in her own background. 93% of UTB students are Hispanic, and 91% are first-generation college students. Dr. García told Texas Monthly that although her parents did not have the opportunity to attend college, they always encouraged her and her brothers to excel academically. She also cites her excellent public school teachers as an inspiration, and has emphasized the teacher training program at UTB. Indeed, 75% of teachers at Brownsville Independent School District are graduates of the program.
In her interview with Time, Dr. García said, "We're trying to send a very clear signal that the Latino human capital in this country simply needs access to the same opportunities that have been present for other people." In 2008, Dr. García was selected to join President-elect Obama's transition team. She received her Ph.D. in communication and linguistics from The University of Texas at Austin and her M.A. and B.A. in speech and English from the University of Houston.
Time's profile of Dr. García is available here.