UTRGV receives largest donation in RGV higher education history, names business college in honor of Robert C. Vackar

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By Jennifer L. Berghom

EDINBURG, TEXAS – MAY 19, 2016 – Many of the country’s leading business schools and  colleges have a name tied to them that honors someone who supports the institution’s missions and wants to ensure student success.

On Wednesday, May 18, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley joined the ranks of those institutions when it announced it was naming its business college to the Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship, in honor of the South Texas automobile dealership magnate and longtime supporter of UTRGV and its legacy institution, UT Pan American.

The naming of the college marks the university’s gratitude, after receiving a $15 million donation from Vackar, CEO of the Bert Ogden Auto Group, to establish an endowment benefitting the College of Business and Entrepreneurship.

It is the largest single donation in the history of higher education in the Rio Grande Valley.

“To say that this is a historic moment in the history of our university is a dramatic understatement,” said UTRGV President Guy Bailey. “This is a game changer for us.”

Bailey said the donation will allow the university to recruit the best and brightest faculty and students to UTRGV.

“Words cannot express our gratitude as an institution,” he said. “Our gratitude as an institution will be expressed in the success of our students for generations and generations to come.”

The announcement was met with multiple standing ovations from the many well-wishers who attended the announcement at the UTRGV Performing Arts Complex on the Edinburg Campus on Wednesday afternoon.

Vackar said the donation was a token of his family’s appreciation of the Valley and its people.

He told the story of how his father, who owned a lumber mill in the Valley, and his father-in-law, who owned a car dealership, didn’t have college degrees, but they both had a strong work ethic and the support of the community.

“The reason they were successful is because the people of the Rio Grande Valley embraced both of those gentlemen and made them successful, and we realize that we’re successful because the people in Edinburg and in the Rio Grande Valley embraced us and we love the people in the Rio Grande Valley and appreciate everything you’ve done for us,” Vackar said.

Vackar and his wife, Janet, later would own and expand the Bert Ogden dealership. They have hired many alumni from the university. He said the people he has hired from the Valley are among the most qualified and have a strong work ethic.

It all comes down to the Valley and the people we love,” he said. “We’re very proud to be involved and be at the forefront of the College of Business and Entrepreneurship.”

William H. McRaven, chancellor of The University of Texas System and a retired four-star Navy admiral, thanked Vackar for his generosity and said this gift will transform the university and the Rio Grande Valley.

“When you think about the people who will graduate here, the generations and generations that will come through the Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship, you realize that today is the start of something special,” he said. “You’ll look back five years from now, 10 years from now, 15 years from now, 100 years from now, and you will have influenced thousands and thousands and thousands of young men and women. You will have changed and shaped the Valley forever.”

After the event, Dr. Mark Kroll, dean of the Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship, called the endowment a major milestone for the college and the university.

“Most major business schools around the country are endowed and named,” Kroll said. “We work to keep our costs down for our students, but it also takes resources to build a world-class business school. So you have to bridge those two goals. Gifts like this make it possible to keep costs relatively low, and at the same time, build the quality of the college.”

This is the second gift the Vackar family has given UTRGV this year. In January, they donated more than $2 million for scholarships.

Marci.Caltabiano@UTRGV.edu UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications

Jennifer.McGehee@UTRGV.edu UTRGV Director of Public Relations