McALLEN — Known for spending a quarter century leading Missouri Southern State University and implementing an international mission there, Julio León will temporarily oversee the merger of the Rio Grande Valley’s two public universities.
The University of Texas System agreed to pay $300,000 to León for consulting work in the interim before permanent leaders are selected as part of Project South Texas, the name given to the merger of UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville, as well as creating a new medical school.
León’s office will be at the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen, where university leaders expect him to serve for the next six to nine months, UT System said in a news release.
UTPA and UTB will merge to create the new institution, allowing access to billions in UT System funding the campuses weren’t eligible for before because there were once community colleges. The new university’s first class will enroll in fall 2015, UT System said.
UTPA President Robert Nelsen has expressed his intent to apply to lead the new institution. UTB President Juliet Garcia said she hadn’t decided yet in comments to The Brownsville Herald earlier this year.
UT System also said a presidential search committee will be named in the near future to make a selection by spring 2014. One of UT System’s goals is for the new school to act as a “gateway to the Americas.”
León retired in 2007 from MSSU as one of the longest-serving university presidents in the nation, UT System said. Missouri media reports list one of his most significant accomplishments as developing international education offerings there.
Nelsen and Garcia will join León on the Project South Texas transition team. This month, working groups made up of faculty, staff, students and community members will be formed to help conceptualize and plan the new university, UT System also said.
León’s contract, dated Aug. 15 and requested from the UT System on Thursday, stipulates his pay will be pro-rated during a 12-month period. The contract, which took effect Aug. 19, also lists a $99,999 fee for the search firm.
León has many responsibilities laid out by his contract to be special advisor to the University of Texas System’s Office of Academic Affairs.
Among the most significant, he’ll be the one to reorganize personnel, help campus officials “adopt a genuine and authentic regional perspective” and lay the foundation for a new president in “addressing and resolving all of the major challenges” related to the merger.
He’s also expected to work with UT System Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Pedro Reyes and the (yet to be named) dean of the medical school to integrate it into the formation of the new university.
Beyond that, León’s contract states he’ll also work with the UTPA and UTB presidents and the respective academic communities, facilitate communication among them and start plans to help the new institution become an economic development catalyst.
Clarification: The Monitor story headlined “Med school consultant brings int’l experience” in the Sept. 6 edition on page 3B needs clarification. UT System expects to pay Julio León $150,000 to $225,000 for six to nine months of work. The contract’s 12-month rate is $300,000, which is pro-rated, as The Monitor originally reported. The Monitor strives to accurately report the news in Hidalgo County and the Rio Grande Valley. Please report any errors of fact or clarifications to the reporter whose byline appears on the story.