SAN ANTONIO -- After 18 years, during which he oversaw a massive expansion of UTSA, Dr. Ricardo Romo is retiring.
Ricardo Romo arrived as president of UTSA in 1999 with a vision to transform the commuter school into a Tier One University.
“Great cities all have great universities. They help to fuel innovation and help prepare that professional class and expertise that great cities need and we're on that path,” said Romo.
“When we first came the campus kind of looked like a high school campus. You go now, it's impressive,” said Harriett Romo.
Under Romo, the campus has doubled in size. The faculty has increased from 400 to 1400 hundred. He led the effort to build dorms and a huge rec center.
He brought the school and the city its first NCAA football team and the student population exploded from 18,000 to 29,000 today.
All of this in less than 15 years. How did he do it so quickly?
“No fear,” explained Romo.
Romo knows how to move fast. He came to UTSA already a legend. At UT Austin he became the first Texan to run a mile in under 4 minutes. It was there he met his wife Harriet, who is now a professor at UTSA. Both were the first in their families to go to college. It’s something they share with their students.
“We're close to 70 percent of our students are first generation,” said Romo.
The Romos have put programs in place to help them succeed.
“As someone said as goes UTSA, so goes San Antonio. You can imagine, they wouldn't have said that 20 years ago. We were not a player, so we have become a really important player in this town so we get the sense our graduates are all over this town and in a few years they will be in the leaderships where ever you move,” said Romo.
And the Romos will be here to see it. Harriet will continue to teach and Ricardo has plans to write a book, do research and work with middle schoolers.
“It was a crucial time for me. When I arrived in the seventh grade I didn't have any books in my home and I had never read a book,” said Romo who grew up on the Westside of San Antonio and graduated from Fox Tech.
A mentor changed his life and in doing so, changed the lives of thousands.
(© 2016 KENS)