New academic year brings more top-tier students and faculty to UTSA

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New UTSA students at the Fall Convocation

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(Aug. 27, 2014) -- UTSA welcomes one of the largest freshman classes in university history for the start of the new academic year. The majority of this year's nearly 5,000 freshmen graduated in the top quartile of their high school classes.

The new students join UTSA at an exciting time, when the enthusiasm of its students, faculty and staff to advance its top-tier education and research mission is clearly part of the university's everyday culture.

"Each academic year, the number of top-ranked students in the incoming class increases, demonstrating that UTSA is an institution of choice across San Antonio and Texas," said Sam Gonzales, UTSA vice president for student affairs. "Access to world-class faculty, superb academic programs and a robust student life all contribute to UTSA's top-tier reputation."

Sara Dibrell enters UTSA this fall as one of five students from across Texas accepted into the Top Scholar program, a premier program that combines a full four-year scholarship with personalized experiences in academics, leadership and community service. Dibrell was valedictorian at Seguin High School. She plans to major in biochemistry.

Biomedical engineering major Oliver Fitch earned a 34 on the ACT and graduated in the top 5 percent from Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas. He received a Peter T. Flawn Presidential Honors Scholarship to attend UTSA.

Kavina Patel graduated among the top 4 percent of her graduating class at Westwood High School in Austin, Texas, and earned a perfect 2400 on her SAT. She is part of the second cohort of the Facilitated Acceptance to Medical Education (FAME) program, a joint accelerated degree program between UTSA and the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio that awards students a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biology degree and Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) in seven years.

Glennette Castillo, a first-generation college student from San Antonio, graduated seventh in her class and earned a 32 on the ACT. She enters UTSA as both a Terry Scholar and a FAME Scholar.

UTSA will begin the academic year with more than 40 new faculty researchers joining its ranks. These top-tier scholars bring talent in a number of specialties to the university's nine colleges.

"We are excited to welcome this fantastic group of new faculty members," said John Frederick, UTSA provost and vice president for academic affairs. "We have no doubt that their talents will contribute to providing our students with exceptional educational experiences and our society with research that transforms the way we live, work and understand the world."

UTSA's new faculty members earned their doctorates from universities such as Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Penn State, Purdue, Princeton, Rice, Stanford, UC Berkeley and Yale.

Fall classes begin in the midst of UTSA Roadrunner Days, a weeklong series of events designed to support the acclimation of new students to UTSA and introduce them to campus culture, spirit and traditions. Some of the main events include Fall Convocation, PlayFair at the Campus Recreation Center, an inaugural midnight lighting of the university entrance sign at John Peace Circle, the President's Bar-B-Q at both the Main Campus and Downtown Campus, the Roadrunner Statue Dedication, Pachanga on the Plaza and a UTSA vs. University of Houston football game watch party.

UTSA provides access to excellence for a diverse group of students. Many are high-achievers who are the first in their families to attend a college or university. As an Hispanic-Serving Institution, UTSA was recognized as one of 49 institutions in the nation by Hispanic Network's Best of the Best 2014 list and is ranked No. 7 in the nation for Hispanic students by Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education.

Additionally, Times Higher Education has included UTSA among the top 100 universities younger than 50 years old for three consecutive years. Most recently, UTSA ranked No. 103 among top universities in the United States and No. 256 worldwide by the Center for World University rankings.

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For more information and the event schedule, visit the UTSA Roadrunner Days website.

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Share your Roadrunner Days experiences using hashtag #UTSARRDAYS