This issue of The Word features a cover story on one of the signature events at the University of the Incarnate Word: the annual Cutting Edge Fiesta® Fashion Show, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
While the Cutting Edge has evolved into a highly successful production, it’s worth remembering that it and our fashion program nearly folded about 20 years ago because of a lack of interest. In fact, fewer than a dozen students were enrolled in the program back then and it was in danger of disappearing in the way of big hair and shoulder pads.
Fortunately, both were saved in the early 1990s with the help of Dr. Annemarie Walsh, who retired from UIW three years ago. Her drive resuscitated the fashion program by injecting it with badly needed energy and professionalism. That fueled a renaissance of the Cutting Edge Fashion Show, which has since evolved into one of the most anticipated events of San Antonio’s Fiesta® season, regularly drawing hundreds of spectators to the student-produced show.
Today, more than 200 students are enrolled in our fashion program, which has been guided by Dr. Sharon Welkey since 2008. (By the way, Welkey was recently selected as the new dean of the UIW School of Interactive Media & Design.) Not surprisingly, it consistently ranks in the top 10 of our most popular academic programs.
Speaking of retirement, Dr. Pat Watkins, vice president of International Affairs, will be stepping down from that position at the end of May. Watkins has served our community in various capacities during her more than 20 years, always with passion and humor. The international affairs division, including our campuses in China and Mexico, has flourished under her leadership, which is a key reason why international students now comprise nearly 13 percent of UIW’s overall enrollment, an all-time high for us.
We’ll miss her when she retires, but she’s isn’t leaving UIW just yet. You’ll see her around campus during the next year, as she will be handling special projects associated with two events our community will celebrate in 2011: UIW’s 130th anniversary and my 25th anniversary as president. By the way, her successor as vice president of International Affairs will be Marcos Fragoso, who for the past few years has served as director of our Mexico City campus. You’ll be able to learn more about him in the summer issue of The Word.
I encourage you to read the rest of this issue to catch up on what else has been happening at UIW, including a profile on longtime benefactors Tena and Jim Gorman. Remember, it’s because of your commitment to our community that we can continue fulfilling Incarnate Word’s goal of offering students the best possible educational opportunities within a context of faith.
In these continuing difficult economic times, please remember that an investment in higher education is something that will yield returns for a lifetime for you, your family and our community.
Special blessings on you and your loved ones throughout 2010.
Louis J. Agnese Jr., Ph.D.