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Ricardo Romo became the fifth President of the University of Texas at San Antonio in May 1999. As president, he leads one of the fastest growing institutions of higher education in the state of Texas.
Under Romo's leadership, "The UTSA Plan: A Roadmap to Excellence" was presented. The plan is a strategic effort to enhance both access to education and excellence in scholarship and service at UTSA. As a result, UTSA plans to more than double the current number of tenured and tenure-track faculty by 2012 and develop additional doctoral programs and research institutes. To accommodate future growth, UTSA plans to add nearly $750 million in new facilities, which includes an $84 million science and engineering building completed in 2005.
During President Romo's tenure, enrollment has increased more than 50% and the university has added numerous programs and facilities to enhance student life including a nearly $46 million renovation to the Recreation and Wellness Center, a 1,000-bed Olympic village-style housing complex and several new student support programs designed to help students succeed at earning a university degree. The number of advisers has tripled, and UTSA is recognized as a leader in "Closing the Gaps," a statewide initiative by the Legislature to enroll more Texans in higher education.
A native of San Antonio's Westside, Romo graduated from Fox Tech High School and attended the University of Texas at Austin on a track scholarship, where he was a member of the Texas Cowboys. Romo was the first Texas Longhorns athlete (and the 19th American in history) to break 4 minutes in the mile, running a time of 3 minutes, 58.8 seconds in 1966. The time set a school record that lasted 42 years.
He holds a master's degree in history from Loyola Marymount University and a Ph.D. in history from UCLA. Romo is an urban historian and the author of "East Los Angeles: History of a Barrio," which is now in its ninth printing (one was in Spanish).
In 1980, President Romo returned to UT Austin to teach history before becoming a vice provost for undergraduate education. From 1987 to 1993, Romo directed the Texas office of the Tomas Rivera Center, housed at Trinity University, where he evaluated the impact of governmental policies on Latinos. In 2002, George W. Bush appointed him to the President's Board of Advisers on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In 2004, former Secretary of State Colin Powell appointed Romo as a U.S. representative to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization and in 2005 Romo was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, San Antonio branch.
Romo has received many honors during his academic career. In November 2007, he was recognized with the Isabel la Catolica award, the highest award given to non-Spanish subjects, bestowed by King Juan Carlos of Spain. In October 2008, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Texas Exes Alumni Association.
Romo is married to Harriett Romo, UTSA professor of sociology. She also serves as director of the UTSA Mexico Center and the Bank of America Child and Adolescent Policy Research Institute (CAPRI). Both first-generation college graduates, the Romos have a son, Carlos, who graduated from Stanford University and the University of Texas School of Law. Their daughter, Anadelia, received a doctoral degree from Harvard University and teaches at Texas State University–San Marcos.
The Romos are avid art collectors. Their private art collection is particularly strong in works on paper by Chicana/o and U.S. Latino artists with a regional focus on Texas and the Southwest. The collection includes works by Luis Jimenez, Carmen Lomas Garza, Cesar Martinez and Vincent Valdez, as well as print suites from Self Help Graphics and Coronado Studio.
An avid photographer, Romo’s works have been included in several regional art exhibits including "Havana," a collection of his prints taken in Cuba. His photos were featured in China's most respected photography magazine, Popular Photography, and his "Small Towns Texas" exhibit was displayed at the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures.
- Tatiana Reinoza Perkins, "Collecting in the Borderlands: Ricardo and Harriett Romo's Collection of Chicano Art" (MA Thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 2009)