I am pleased to offer this message in recognition of Dr. Louis Agnese’s 25th anniversary as president of the University of the Incarnate Word. I’ve known Lou for many years as a member of the Board of Trustees, which I’m currently privileged to chair.
It’s nearly impossible to list everything Lou has accomplished during his presidency. The sum result is that under his leadership, Incarnate Word has forever transformed the educational landscape in South Texas. During his 25 years, UIW has evolved from a small private college with an uncertain future into a financially robust institution that’s one of the largest private universities in Texas.
What’s also remarkable is that he has done so by holding fast to the Mission and values established by the university’s founding congregation, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. As Lou is fond of saying, “Mission always drives vision. Faith is at the core of everything we do as an educational ministry.”
Thousands of students, many of them first generation, have attained a college education that’s allowed them a chance at a better life. This has had a considerable impact on San Antonio and Bexar County. Today, Incarnate Word graduates contribute to the improvement of our region in myriad ways. They can be found in every segment of the regional workforce, whether in leadership positions in the private sector or positions of responsibility in the public sector.
Particularly noteworthy is the increase in the minority student enrollment. UIW now more accurately reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of San Antonio, Bexar County and Texas. For example, the African-American student enrollment has increased from approximately 1 percent to 7 percent and the Hispanic enrollment has increased from 32 percent to nearly 55 percent. In fact, UIW has the largest number of Hispanic students of any private university in Texas. The latter reflects the ongoing demographic changes in Texas, where 38 percent of the population is Hispanic.
The enrollment increase has been fueled by an unprecedented expansion in academic programs. Twenty five years ago, there were 56 majors at the undergraduate and graduate levels, but no doctoral programs. A quarter century later, there are about 80 majors, including a Ph.D. in education, two professional doctoral programs and a recently approved doctorate in nursing practice.
A doctoral degree in physical therapy will be offered next year.
However, the academic expansion would’ve been impossible without a solid financial foundation.
During Lou’s presidency, the endowment has increased from $3 million to more than $80 million. The Board of Trustees was reconfigured into a body capable of making substantial financial contributions, something those of us who serve on the board know firsthand.
The physical facilities have skyrocketed from 400,000 square feet in 1985 to nearly 2.5 million in 2011, an increase consistent with the enrollment growth of more than 500 percent in that time. Incarnate Word’s footprint has expanded to several sites in San Antonio, including a 220,000-square-foot building near the Medical Center that’s home to the Rosenberg School of Optometry. UIW also operates sites in Corpus Christi; Guangzhou, China; and Mexico City, Mexico.
Just as impressive is the university’s economic impact on San Antonio. For instance, it’s conservatively estimated that the optometry and pharmacy programs will, by themselves, inject nearly half a billion dollars into the local economy over the next 10 years.
Despite the tremendous growth and change that Incarnate Word has undergone since 1985, UIW’s identity as a Catholic university is as strong today as it was when Lou became president. It’s heartening to know that in a fast moving world, Incarnate Word retains the ideals and traditions set forth by the congregation that make UIW such a special place and an integral part of San Antonio.
The above is supported by regular positive feedback from students, employees, board members, the external community and the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.
I congratulate Lou on an extraordinary 25 years at the University of the Incarnate Word. On behalf of the board, students, employees and the congregation, I wish him every success as he begins the next chapter of his presidency.
Charles Amato, Chairman
UIW Board of Trustees