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The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

Weekly SGA senate brief: Nov. 8, 2023

Chloe Almendarez / Hilltop Views
President Fuentes stands in front of the audience during this week’s Student Government Association senate meeting to give her State of the University Address.

Here’s what happened at the Student Government Association’s formal senate meeting on Nov. 8, 2023.


State of the University Address

University President Montserrat Fuentes joined the senate to deliver a “State of the University Address” for the second year in a row. In the address, President Fuentes:

– Highlighted important hilltop events that have occurred since the last address. These events included addressing food insecurity on campus, the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month through Fiesta on the Hilltop, Homecoming 2023, the Longhorns vs. Hilltoppers basketball game and the newly earned ranking of #6 Best in the West by U.S News and World report;

– Recognized current SEU Fulbright scholars: Nic Carillo 23’, Marisa Davis 22’, Kathryn Brouillete 23’, Nina Martinez 23’ and August Railey 23’;

– Highlighted the following students who were awarded for conference presentations 

  • Wren Conner ‘24: Best undergraduate poster for Society for Ecological Research;
  • Emily Holechek ‘25: First place at Tri Beta South Central Region;
  • Elyse Wick ‘24: Third place at Tri Beta South Central Region;
  • Matthew Godino ‘23: Third place at Tri Beta South Central Region;
  • Oscar Cardenas ‘24: Third place Tri Beta South Central Region;
  • Nichole Abrego ‘23: First place for Environmental Microbiology at the American Society for Microbiology Branch Meeting;
  • Dalila Aranday ‘25: Third place for Environmental Microbiology at the American Society for Microbiology Branch Meeting;
  • Emerie Danson ‘23: Third place for Pathogenic Microbiology at the American Society for Microbiology Branch Meeting;
  • Mia Sanchez ‘24: Best Oral Presentation Award at the Southwestern Association of Parasitologists Meeting;

– Featured St. Edward’s Second place win at the Hispanic Serving Institution Battle of the Brains on Sept. 20-24. As a prize, SEU was awarded $15,000 in scholarship funds, and each team member won a new Dell laptop. The team consisted of Paloma Escobedo ‘26, grad student Thamires Koha ‘24, Thalia Perez Mendoza ‘25, Michael Tamul ‘25, Joshua Mendiola ‘24, Ariana Mendez ‘27, Mark Ma ‘24and Steven Hinojosa ‘24;

– Listed important grants the university has received for research including the record-breaking $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation Scholarships in S-STEM program awarded to The Supporting Ecology and Data Science Scholars program, and the $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture for the School of Natural Sciences new NEXTGEN program;

– Identified artificial intelligence as a major current issue and trend in higher education and detailed the ways in which St. Edward’s will address it. St. Edward’s will integrate the use of AI in alignment with the Holy Cross mission and work to leverage AI in a way that prepares students for its major use in the workplace;

– Listed university statistics on student enrollment, first gen status, student to faculty ratio (13:1), experiential learning, retention rates, pell grant recipients and details about the class of 2027;

– Recognized the university’s unique position in the City of Austin;

– Detailed focus areas for academic program expansion. The focus areas include the further development of the new nursing program, identifying a need for labs and simulation spaces, the strengthening of the computer science program, specifically for AI, cybersecurity and software development, identifying the need for a cybersecurity lab, and the enhancement of experiential learning, internships, research, grants, and infrastructure to support student research, scholarship and creative works;

– Discussed the continued expansion of first gen programming as a retention initiative;

– Emphasized a strategy to support retention through strengthening the partnership between student affairs and the student success center, prioritizing academic success within student leadership roles, and building student success through advanced experiential learning and enhancing the honors program;

– Disclosed a detailed budget overview for the 2024 fiscal year;

– Revealed plans to demolish St. Joseph Hall due to its significant safety risks and liability concerns it holds for the university;

– Reviewed Strategic Plan 2027 year two progress with an emphasis on academic excellence and distinction, athletics team expansion, Austin impact, infrastructure and resources.



– A funding request for the Computer Science Club to host an event for students to compete and tackle programming challenges together (amended and approved).


The meeting concluded at 8:06 p.m. with a final roll call.

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Chloe Almendarez
Chloe Almendarez, Managing Editor
Chloe Almendarez is a senior Psychology major with a minor in Education Studies. This is their second year working with "Hilltop Views" as Managing Editor. They are passionate about exploring education and equity. For all advertisement and business inquiries, you may contact them at [email protected]

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