By Valerie Bustamante
LOGOS ASSISTANT EDITOR
The University of the Incarnate Word community marked Dr. Louis J. Agnese Jr.’s 30th anniversary as president in a special celebratory Mass on Monday, Aug. 3, in Our Lady’s Chapel.
“Today, we celebrate President Agnese and his 30th year as president,” the Rev. Dr. Tom Dymowski, chaplain for University Mission and Ministry, said at the morning services. We pray for all you have achieved in the name of the Incarnate Word, and for all your family. We thank God for you.”
Agnese, a native New Yorker, was accompanied by his wife, Mickey, who presented the holy Eucharist during the Mass celebrated by students, faculty, staff, trustees, supporters and probably the most recognized – members of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, the university’s founders.
Agnese recounted his start as president in 1985, when he was perhaps the youngest president at age 33 for a four-year university to the nation’s current longest-serving one.
“I am very thankful that 30 years ago they saw a brash boy and entrusted me to lead this institution,” said Agnese. “I’ve had the help of the congregation to lead this school — my guardian angels I call them.”
Since Agnese has served as president of originally Incarnate Word College, UIW has become the largest Catholic university and fourth-largest private university in Texas.
When he first came to UIW, the enrollment was less than 2,000 students. Last year the enrollment set a new record with 9,940 students enrolled. Increased enrollment and the times has led to noted growth in academic programs and more buildings on and off campus. The Fine Arts Building will be ready this fall and construction is beginning on the $29 million Student Engagement Center expected to open in 2017.
The Dreeben School of Education was the first to award doctorates during his tenure. And professional schools in pharmacy, optometry and physical therapy operating away from the Main Campus have been graduating classes. The School of Osteopathic Medicine is set to open at Brooks City Case. Adult completion programs (ADCAP) have also been established across town. And some campuses have sprung up in Mexico, Germany and formerly China. Athletically, football, fencing and synchronized swimming have been added and the entire athletic program is proceeding through Division 1 transitions.
UIW also has recognized several years as a great workplace in local, regional and national rankings, lauded as a military-friendly campus, and ranked No.1 in faith-based universities conferring Hispanics a bachelor’s degree by the Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine.
More is yet to come, Agnese said.
“We will have blessed years to grow and this coming year we will pass Texas Christian University (TCU) for the (third-largest) private university in the state of Texas,” Agnese said. “Our growth equals access and choices to our students. Praise be the Incarnate Word.”