Texas A&M International University observed one of the oldest traditions in academia Thursday, April 13 when it hosted its Investiture Ceremony for Dr. Pablo Arenaz, the University’s sixth president.
Conducting the official investiture was the Chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, John Sharp. Chancellor Sharp’s comments lauded Dr. Arenaz’ accomplishments as provost for TAMIU and predicted continued greatness ahead for the University.
“I am honored to be here among this community of students, educators, philanthropists, and community leaders that will help to ensure the success of this presidency…We are thrilled to have someone of Dr. Arenaz’ caliber in our System and serving as the sixth president of Texas A&M International University,” Sharp said.
A dedicated website at http://www.tamiu.edu/investiture/ provides a full-length video, viewable program and event gallery, in addition to expanded information on the historical event.
In his Investiture Speech, Dr. Arenaz, surrounded by members of his wife and family, recounted his trajectory to Laredo and TAMIU and said he knew early on that it was a special place.
“I was attracted to TAMIU for many reasons; chief among them was the clear vision and mission of TAMIU and the fact that everyone; faculty and staff, was committed to the mission. The other reason I found TAMIU so appealing was the strong connection to Laredo and the region, and the desire to become a cultural and intellectual hub for the community,” Dr. Arenaz.
He went on to articulate his vision for the University, predicated on the need to “Go Beyond,” the theme of the Investiture Ceremony.
“Then as now, my overarching philosophy is two-fold. First, we are in the business of developing human capital. We should be producing graduates who think critically, communicate effectively (often in multiple languages), work collaboratively and are competitive in the global marketplace. These attributes need to be among the learning outcomes we strive for in each course we teach. Secondly, we should be a regional economic engine,” Arenaz said.
He outlined some underpinnings of that philosophy.
“We are primed to expand our success, but we have to Go Beyond. We have to take chances, be bold and innovative and think outside the box. We have to enter this new era with an entrepreneurial spirit, and a willingness to explore new ideas, new pedagogies. We have to be willing to forge new paths.
Arenaz said key guideposts for the future of TAMIU include expanding academic offerings, providing more opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to develop leadership skills, providing students high-impact experiences, including increasing study abroad, internships and research opportunities.
He challenged the University community to meet a goal of a 10,000 student enrollment within the next five years; the exploration of new teaching/learning paradigms; improving four and six-year graduation rates; expanding the University’s footprint beyond Laredo and becoming a destination institution and a center of excellence for business and commerce, health, transportation, security and cybersecurity, energy and bilingual/biculturalism.
Likewise, he sees the University expanding its international footprint throughout the Western Hemisphere, mentioning initiatives in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Argentina and Queretaro, Mexico. He eyes doubling the University’s research expenditures and building parallel intellectual properties.
While clearly expanding the University’s reach, he assured that it will always continue to engage the local business community, elected officials, and the educational, private, non-profit and for-profit sectors.
“They are our partners, they employ our graduates, and we need to listen to them. I am promoting the development of an Incubator and Entrepreneurial Center that can serve as a catalyst for small business entrepreneurial development,” Arenaz said.
He noted the University is approaching its 50th anniversary of creation and 25th anniversary of the construction of its campus in northeast Laredo. He said TAMIU will convene a Vision 2045 Committee to develop a roadmap for the next 25 years.
He ended his speech by noting the University’s ability to change lives.
“TAMIU has been recognized as third in the nation when measuring upward income mobility. To put this in perspective, our average student enters the University with an annual family income of $30,000, which puts them in the bottom 40% of income earners. Ten years after graduation, on average, those same students were in the top 40% based on income --- middle class and higher. This is how we change lives – this is how we Go Beyond! This is what we should be most proud of – we change lives.” To thunderous applause, he concluded, “That is everyone’s job on this campus.”
The Investiture Ceremony, themed “Going Beyond,” took place in the Center for the Fine and Performing Arts’ Recital Hall at 11 a.m. and was followed by a light reception and greeting celebration in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library attended by community members and partners, faculty members and administrators. Students enjoyed celebratory snacks including popcorn, cookies and ice cream on the University’s mild and sunny Green.
Crowds of students, faculty, staff and community guests exiting the Ceremony were greeted by the joyful sounds of the University’s Mariachi Internacional and escorted to the reception by the University’s Percussion Ensemble.
The Investiture Ceremony harkens back to English universities and is thought to be an adaptation of the dignified ceremonies heralding knighthood. The word “investiture” comes from the Latin phrase for “dress in robe,” investitura. Today, utilized in academic circles, it denotes the ceremony accorded to recognize the individual who will don the University's insignia and regalia, figuratively and realistically leading the University forward.
TAMIU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, Dr. Tom Mitchell who was master of ceremonies, noted the event was historically significant in the life of a University.
“The investiture of a President stands as one of the most significant events in the life of a University. Since its founding in 1970 to its identity today as Texas A&M International University, this University has been guided by five presidents, each leaving an indelible mark on the history of the University and the communities we serve. The Ceremony installs the leader, our sixth president, who will take us forward,” Dr. Mitchell explained.
Dr. Arenaz’ presidency was affirmed by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents in November 2016.
He holds his Ph.D. in Genetics and Cell Biology from Washington State University and an M.S. in Biology from the University of Nevada at Reno (UNR). His B.S. in Education was also earned at UNR. He conducted postdoctoral research at Temple University’s School of Medicine, Fels Research Institute. His academic appointments have included assistant, associate and full professor of Biology.
Prior to joining TAMIU as Provost in 2008, Dr. Arenaz served as Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate School at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Other UTEP posts included Vice Provost, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Associate Dean for the Colleges of Science and Engineering. His special UTEP appointments included program director for the Minority Biomedical Research Support Program, Alliance for Minority Participation and Border Biomedical Research Center.
He has been active in securing research grants in excess of $35 million from the Carnegie Corporation of America, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, among others.
The author or co-author of 25+ publications and over 115 abstracts, his research interests have been tightly focused on cell cycle regulation of DNA repair gene expression, with particular interest in the observable physical characteristics associated with the so-called “mutator” phenotype and its relationship to cancer.
He is fascinated by the ever-growing intersections between science and business, and is personally committed to encouraging students of all ages to broaden their STEM experience and take on research opportunities no matter their chosen higher education degree journey.
Originally from Las Vegas, Nevada, Dr. Arenaz’ family traces their ancestry to the Basque Country of northern Spain.
He has been married to Norma Arenaz for 29 years. The couple has four children: Jonathan, Cristina, Rebekah and Pablo III. All joined him for the Ceremony.
For additional information on the Investiture Ceremony, click on the dedicated web site at http://www.tamiu.edu/investiture/, email email@example.com, call 956.326.2180, or visit the University’s Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 268.
University information is also available online at tamiu.edu, and on social media sites on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
Dr. Pablo Arenaz, (left), TAMIU's sixth president, is congratulated by Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp at the Investiture Ceremony.