SAN ANTONIO – The city’s largest university, with nearly 30,000 students and a local economic impact estimated to be $1.2 billion a year, has a new president who’s already making his presence known.
The University of Texas at San Antonio’s new president, Dr. Taylor Eighmy, technically doesn’t start until Friday, but he’s already greeting students at every turn at the university’s main campus.
"I'm a high-fiver. I do fist bumps sometimes, too, though," Eighmy said.
Hellos, high-fives and headlines. Eighmy is on the cover of the latest edition of the UTSA newspaper, “The Paisano.”
"Very fine publication,” he said.
As the new president presses the flesh, it’s apparent Eighmy really is the new big man on campus, and his plans for UTSA don't stop at perfecting the Roadrunner hand sign.
"Everybody is going to look to this institution and say, ‘UTSA figured this out across the entire spectrum of opportunity, and that's the exemplar that we strive to be.’ And that's where I would like this to go," Eighmy said.
Eighmy also said he is following a man whose career he followed from afar. He met Dr. Ricardo Romo, the university’s former president, on a visit five years ago.
Eighmy hasn't talked to Romo since he resigned and Eighmy was appointed his successor.
“I know he's the favorite son of this city, and if you look at what transpired on his watch here, about how far this institution has come, everyone should tip their hat to the accomplishments he realized," Eighmy said.
And just like he's been reaching out to those on campus, he wants to meet with community and state leaders who questioned why UTSA didn't hire a minority candidate. With a past that includes stops at Texas Tech and most recently, the University of Tennessee, he wants people to see UTSA as San Antonio's university.
Eighmy said he wants UTSA known across the country and is calling out a school to the west.
"I want this institution to be the very best institution it can be — Hispanic serving, discovery, community engaged, world engaged. Those four themes that I keep talking about. I want it to be the very best. I want Arizona State to be quaking in their shoes about us," Eighmy said.
As for his family, Eighmy and his wife have three dogs, who he said “run their life.” Their names are Macy, Big Al, and Finbar “The Fabulous.” Finbar's a dachshund, and UTSA’s new President can't wait to dress them all up as roadrunners.