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Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 12:00 am

Sometimes, even being the smallest university in University of Texas System warrants a special trip of support by the system chancellor and board of regents chairman.

This week, University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, and Eugene “Gene” Powell, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, traveled to the Permian Basin to discuss future plans and offer support to the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

During the visit the chancellor discussed its system action plan and options for future growth.

The nine-step action covers a spectrum of initiatives the UT Systems aims to improve, but Cigarroa said the most important aspect covers student success. With state funding cut and tuition costs rising across the nation, the plan is also aimed at doing more with less.

“It comes down to innovation,” Cigarroa said.

The plan originated from the UT System’s board, which wanted the university to create a more affordable option of education and not diminish the quality of education.

“We have to do more with less,” Cigarroa said. “I take the board’s challenge very seriously.”

The big push the system will be making is toward improving in technology available to students in pursuit of higher education. Cigarroa said enrollment is a nightmare for many parents and students and in the UT System there is on average one advisor per 450 students.

That’s when the system came across the website, myedu.com.

The website allows students in high school, or younger, and on through college to go online and create a user profile. It matches the high school’s dual credit courses to their university of choice and aligns credits needed to the major they are interested in.

“It’s to use software,” Cigarroa said. “It will provide a four-year path.”

In addition, Cigarroa said the system wants to expand on its online course options. He said students will be able to earn degrees online through UT schools in El Paso, Arlington and the Permian Basin.

“Permian Basin is the perfect example of how an online degree makes sense,” Cigarroa said.

And while each university has plans that will be implemented during the next year, UTPB already has plans of its own.

David Watts, UTPB president, said in October the university aims to roll out seven degree programs that can be achieved mainly online. The difference from previous programs online is these can be adjusted to the student’s schedule.

“The majors will be online, and you’ll be able to take the courses in a shortened format,” Watts said.

There will be many changes to come in the next several months, and Powell said UTPB has done well in reaching the students of the region.

“We think it’s an outstanding institution,” Powell said. “We’re extremely proud of it.”

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