President Bailey saves best for last on Tour of Texas

UTRGV Presidential Tour

WESLACO, TEXAS - JUNE 4, 2015 - On the final stop of his Tour of Texas, the president of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley had a special treat for alumni and supporters of its legacy institutions, The University of Texas-Pan American and The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College.

The final slide of Guy Bailey’s presentation to more than 100 people on June 2 at the Weslaco Business, Visitor and Event Center shared information he had not shared before: that the Texas Legislature has appropriated more than $253.5 million to UTRGV for the 2016-2017 fiscal year – the second-highest amount awarded to an institution in The University of Texas System.

“We never have to take a back seat to anybody, to anything,” Bailey said. “We are going to implement new programs ... we're going to be the best. And our students are going to be the best. This is what happens when the Valley works together, when we work together as one. That's where we are, and that’s the opportunity that really lies ahead for all of us.’

Since March, Bailey has been traveling the Lone Star state, meeting with UTPA and UTB/TSC alumni, donors, friends and supporters in personal gatherings, to hear their thoughts on the creation of UTRGV and share his vision for the new university. Previous meetings were held in Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio.

The Tour provided alumni and friends a prime opportunity to discuss, one-on-one, with President Bailey what they can do to help spread the word about the new university. The Valley event had a record number of Tour attendees, with 110 guests.

Bailey explained the history of how UTRGV came to be and how important it was for the university to have access to the Permanent University Fund. The last time a university became eligible for PUF money was in the 1970s, when UT San Antonio entered the select group, Bailey said.

So far, the state has approved $500 million in PUF money for UTRGV, he said.

He also talked about UTRGV's plans to expand opportunities for academic studies and research throughout the Valley, highlighting the School of Medicine and the Centers of Excellence.

“Our main focus is the success of the students,” Bailey said.

As the creation of the new university moves forward, the legacy institutions will be embraced and honored in all areas of academics, athletics and other achievements, he said.

Some alumni of UTPA and UTB/TSC in attendance said they were excited to hear about the plans for UTRGV and were happy to see their institutions reunite.

“It's inspirational,” said Diane Teter, who along with her husband Rick are UTB/TSC alumni. “I'm glad to see that there are such plans for the future.”

The Teters have strong ties to both institutions. In addition to being a UTB/TSC alumnus, Rick Teter also taught at UTPA, and the couple has donated to both universities.

“We're leaving our legacy,” Diane Teter said. “Our students of the past and our students of the future and the ones that we live amongst ... they’re our children.”

The Teters said they hope UTRGV will provide an expanded range of subjects for students to study and will keep the best and brightest students in the Valley. They also are pleased to hear about the university’s efforts to raise money to help the inaugural class of the School of Medicine pay for its tuition when the school opens in fall 2016.

Sally Fraustro Guerra, president of UTPA’s Alumni Association and a member of the UTRGV Executive Development Board, praised Bailey’s leadership and said the appropriation amount shows the power of coming together.

“I don't think we could have done that alone as UTPA, just Edinburg. It was all three schools coming together, so we make a much greater impact,” Guerra said. “I'm just honored and extremely excited to be a part of this growth ... it’s very exciting for the kids ... There’s going to be wonderful opportunities that we’ve never had before. They’re bigger and better now.’

For more information on UTRGV, please go to its website at www.utrgv.edu, like its Facebook page, or follow @utrgv on Twitter.   

Media Contacts:

Marci Caltabiano Ponce, UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications
956-665-2742

Letty Fernandez, UTRGV Director of Presidential Media Relations
956-882-6535

Jennifer McGehee-Valdez, UTRGV Director of Public Relations
956-882-5105