Having visited the University of Texas of the Permian Basin for graduations over the years, Sandra Garcia was familiar with the campus and was pleased to have the opportunity to join it as its assistant vice president for research and dean of graduate studies.
Garcia succeeds Juli D’Ann Ratheal-Burnett. She has more than 20 years of experience in sponsored programs, research and graduate studies. She has held leadership positions in those areas at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Texas A&M Kingsville, where she served as executive director of research and sponsored programs, the University of Houston-Downtown as assistant vice president for academic affairs, and most recently at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where was director of research and compliance.
Because she has worked at larger universities, she appreciated the chance to join UTPB.
“I have worked at predominately Hispanic serving institutions … and I love that to be able to come into a university and make a difference. I’ve worked at large universities and you’re just like another fish in the pond. Here I can make a difference,” Garcia said.
From her bachelor’s to her doctorate, Garcia said all her degrees are from Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
“My doctorate prepared me for an executive role in education. My bachelor’s was in elementary education, however, I didn’t teach (at an elementary school). I taught adult education at a community college and did some grant writing classes. Then I got a master’s in counseling and guidance, but I never was a counselor either,” Garcia said.
She got involved in grant writing as a member of the city council in Mathis, then transitioned to the university level.
At UTPB, Garcia said will be overseeing the process of faculty and staff writing grants and help them with proposal development, submission of budgets and making sure federal guidelines are adhered to.
A couple of her main goals at UTPB are to increase graduate student enrollment, ensure the quality and rigor of the graduate programs and increase external funding for research and student scholarships.
UTPB has about 1,000 students in its graduate programs. About 80 percent are online and 20 percent are face-to-face. Garcia said she would like to see the number of students rise by about 5 to 10 percent every year.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dan Heimmermann said Garcia will be working closely with his office, the deans and faculty to support the university’s efforts to enhance its research profile, as well as facilitate development of additional graduate programs, including doctoral programs.
“I do believe that UT Permian Basin will develop and offer doctoral programs within the next couple of years. We are in the midst of an inclusive strategic planning process and we expect that the specific programs will emerge from these discussions and processes,” Heimmermann stated in an email.