The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is one of the nation’s leading Hispanic-serving institutions. Located along the U.S.–Mexico border in one of the largest binational communities in the world, UTEP’s student body is 84 percent Hispanic and nearly 50 percent of undergraduates are first in their families to attend college. UTEP has been recognized as a leader in social mobility for helping graduates move from family incomes in the bottom 20 percent to the top 20 percent.

As an R1 research university, UTEP enrolls nearly 24,000 students in 169 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in 10 colleges and schools. With more than $109 million in total annual research expenditures, UTEP is ranked in the top five percent of U.S. research institutions and sixth in Texas for federal research expenditures at public universities.

“UTEP sits at the heart of a vibrant city located at the westernmost tip of Texas, and we are keenly aware of the challenges and the opportunities that our physical setting presents,” Jennifer M. Lujan, M.Ed., interim director of UTEP’s Center for Community Engagement, said. “By working with our fellow members in the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities, we aim to begin an exchange of ideas and effective practices that will benefit all of us as we seek to better serve our students.”

Community-focused strategic goals

UTEP’s current strategic plan highlights its status as a leading Hispanic-serving institution. And, in addition to advancing research and fostering student success, the 10-year plan emphasizes community engagement. It includes initiatives that aim to increase cultural and educational activities to enrich community life, including artistic, cultural, scientific and educational events and intercollegiate athletics.

Other community-focused initiatives include establishing the UTEP Business Engagement Center to help meet the needs of regional businesses for employee training and certification, facilitate corporate-sponsored research and technology commercialization, build a network of entrepreneurs, and serve as a resource for economic development entities to understand the talent available in the region.

Center for Community Engagement

UTEP’s Center for Community Engagement was established in 1998 as an umbrella for grant-funded, community-based programming and developed by community activist Kathleen Staudt, professor emerita of political science, who believed “students could enhance their education through experience if UTEP extended the classroom into the community through partnerships with nonprofits and public organizations.”

Over the past two decades, the Center for Community Engagement has evolved to be responsible for streamlining and supporting community-based initiatives across campus and throughout the community. The center’s dedicated staff and students are passionate and work to respond to the community and make community engagement an integral part of campus life. Their efforts paid off when, in 2020, UTEP received the Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement Classification.

“We’re proud of the accomplishments we’ve had in creating partnerships that benefit our students and the community beyond our campus, but we know there is always more to be done,” Lujan said. “We look forward to tapping into CUMU’s constellation of resources for this important work, and to sharing the lessons we’ve learned from our successes.”

Through the Center for Community Engagement’s collective work, community engagement at UTEP has set a standard of excellence that highlights how CUMU members and the communities they serve are stronger together.

Join us in welcoming the University of Texas at El Paso to the CUMU membership.