EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The University of Texas at El Paso President Heather Wilson announced the record-high research activity and fundraising, as well as the continuation of UTEP’s pause on tuition increases and the upcoming construction of new buildings on campus in the annual Convocation address to faculty, staff and students Friday, Aug. 25.

“We have a lot of great news at UTEP, and it all points to the success of our students and the impact of our research,” Wilson said. “I am grateful for the hard work of our faculty and staff in achieving amazing results this year – and UTEP is taking advantage of this momentum to foster well-being in our community.”

Student Success

  • Wilson discussed efforts to offer more financial aid to students and announced that tuition will not increase for the next two academic years. She also highlighted the success of the UTEP Advising initiative and the importance of engaging students both in and out of the classroom.
  • Wilson shared the story of a mother who emailed her to thank her for her son’s transformative experience working at the Indio Mountains Research Station with Vicente Mata Silva, Ph.D., assistant director of the research station and an assistant professor in the College of Science. The station, located near Van Horn, Texas, is a 40,000-acre facility owned by UTEP and used for field research. 

“I would like to express my profound gratitude to an amazing program and professor that quite literally saved my son,” the email read. “He found his passion, direction and motivation to continue his education, and he successfully completed his bachelor’s degree in May.”

High-Impact Research

  • In fiscal year 2022, UTEP’s research expenditures totaled $130.5 million, a record for the university, according to a press release sent by UTEP.
  • Wilson highlighted research projects led by faculty members like Manuel Llano, Ph.D., an associate professor in the College of Science whose research focuses on proteins that may play a role in controlling the spread of West Nile Virus in cells.
  • Llano’s research, which could prove critical to improving the treatment and care of West Nile Virus and other viruses like dengue, was assisted by two critical discoveries made by doctoral student researchers, Carlos Valenzuela and Federico Valdez.


  • This is the third consecutive record-setting year for the university’s fundraising efforts, according to UTEP.
  • The annual total for fiscal year 2023 through Aug. 9 is $42.9 million, the first time in UTEP’s history that annual fundraising has surpassed $40 million.
  • Fundraising highlights this year included a gift of $25 million, the largest in UTEP’s history, to name the Woody L. Hunt College of Business, and the first inaugural Raise Your Pick Giving Day, which raised funds from more than 2,000 individual donors – 771 of whom had never given to the university before.

New Buildings

  • In her speech, Wilson announced that the University of Texas System’s Board of Regents approved the constructing of a new, state-of-the-art classroom building with funding from UT System and the Texas State Legislature.
  • The 125,000-square-foot learning center will include a five-story east wing and three-story west wing connected by a three-story collaboration space.
  • The building will be located directly south of UTEP’s current Liberal Arts Building, which is scheduled to be demolished when the new project is complete.
  • The new building will reflect the Bhutanese architectural style that is distinct on the UTEP campus, and sustainable landscaping will incorporate native Chihuahuan Desert plants.
  • The Advanced Manufacturing and Aerospace Center, which is currently under construction at the northeast corner of Hawthorne Street and Rim Road, is planned to open in March 2025, according to UTEP.