Dental student named UT System student regent

Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed Varun Pokkamthanam Joseph, a fourth-year dental student from the Health Science Center , as the new student regent for the University of Texas System Board of Regents.

As the student regent, Joseph represents more than 217,000 students in the UT System’s eight academic and six health institutions across the state.

Joseph, 27, from McKinney, is pursuing a doctor of dental surgery degree from the School of Dentistry. Recently elected class president for 2016-2017, Joseph is expected to graduate in May 2017.

“My main duty is to represent and advocate for the students in the UT System, from the Rio Grande Valley to the North Texas region,” he said. “I also am interested in addressing the major issues I see facing the UT System today: affordability, the need to increase graduation rates and the need to increase collaboration between UT institutions.”

Leading up to becoming student regent, Joseph has been involved in several other statewide activities. He served as a member of the Student Advisory Council to the board of regents in 2014-15 and as chairman of the council in 2015-16. He also served on the board of regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards selection committee for two years. On campus, Joseph has been involved in numerous activities including community service, research, the teaching honors program, Delta Sigma Delta dental fraternity and the School of Dentistry’s admissions committee.

Joseph is the second UT Health Science Center student appointed as a UT System student regent. During the 2010-2011 academic year, medical student Kyle Kalkwarf was the first to serve as a student regent.

Joseph earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from Baylor University. He plans to complete his master of business administration after graduating from dental school.

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