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Vice Provost for International Initiatives and Senior International Officer

Dr. René Zenteno

René Zenteno is the Vice Provost for International Initiatives and Senior International Officer at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is responsible for institutional development and oversight of university-wide initiatives and global partnerships essential to UTSA international education, research and outreach. He provides leadership and facilitates collaboration in the areas of international research, global education, faculty mobility, study abroad, student exchange, and international agreements. He chairs the campus-wide International Advisory Council (IAC) and the International Oversight Committee (IOC). Dr. Zenteno is also Professor of Demography in the College of Public Policy at UTSA.

The vice provost is responsible for the Office of International Programs (OIP). The OIP provides admission and services to international students, visa processing services for international scholars, and directly supports students and faculty engaging in study abroad opportunities.


As the Under Secretary of Population, Migration and Religious Affairs at the Ministry of the Interior in Mexico from 2010-2012, Zenteno was instrumental in writing, negotiating and enacting the 2011 Mexican Immigration Law. He also helped pass the Law on Refugees and Complementary Protection. These legal instruments provide basic rights to migrants and refugees in Mexico regardless of immigration status. Prior to his work with UTSA, Zenteno had been provost and professor at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte and Executive Director of the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego. He spent eight years on the faculty of the Tecnológico de Monterrey. Zenteno, who earned a PhD in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin and undertook postdoctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania, has received numerous honors and fellowships, including President of Sociedad Mexicana de Demografía and membership in the National Academy of Science of Mexico. He has been a member of the Mexican National System of Researchers since 1992, a distinction awarded only to the best national scholars. He has published widely in the areas of social and demographic change, international migration, and social inequality, with a focus on Mexico, U.S.-Mexican migration, and Mexican immigrant incorporation. Zenteno’s articles have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences, Social Problems, Journal of Development Economics, Latin American Research Review, International Migration Review, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Journal of Marriage and the Family, Estudios Demográficos y Urbanos, Frontera Norte, and other academic journals.

Research Interests

Migration is a major demographic force shaping the social, economic, political and cultural life of the United States and Mexico. Most of my research falls into three categories: 1) U.S.-Mexican migration, with special emphasis on its determinants and consequences for sending and receiving regions and immigrant adaptation, 2) immigration policy, undocumented migration and human rights and 3) social and demographic change in Mexico, including social mobility and family behavior. Underlying these foci is a common interest in issues of inequality, development, and stratification. A key tenet of my research is that social disparities in Mexico and the U.S. can be better understood by establishing comparisons between the two countries. This approach is relevant because millions of Mexicans today are shaping their life opportunities and those of their descendants by moving between two societies with clear divisions based on class and ethnicity. In order to understand the social inequality faced by Mexicans in both countries, I argue that we need to produce more systematic and comparable data and research on how characteristics of the family of origin are associated with educational, health and labor market outcomes in both sides of the border.