Distinguished Alumni Awards 2018

Distinguished Alumni Awards

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor our alumni can receive. The award recognizes high-achieving individuals who stand out in their fields and have made significant contributions to society. Recipients of this award have honored the legacy of excellence at UTRGV and its legacy institutions through their accomplishments, affiliations, careers, and philanthropic endeavors.


2018 UTRGV Distinguished Alumni Award Honorees

General William F. Garrison
General William F. Garrison (R)
Retired Major General of the United States Army
Bachelor of Business Administration ’66, UTPA legacy

General William F. Garrison (R) is a retired major general of the United States Army who spent most of his career in Special Operations. He entered the Army as an enlisted soldier in 1966. He has been in the private sector since 1996. He holds an MBA from Sam Houston University and a BBA from Pan American University. He is currently a cattle rancher in Texas and maintains business interests in Africa and Europe.

Senator Juan
Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa
Represents District 20
Bachelor of Arts ’70, UTPA legacy

Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa proudly represents District 20. He attended Mission ISD schools in the Rio Grande Valley as a child, and worked as a farm worker during his teen years. He led the Mission Eagles football team as their quarterback, and after graduating, Hinojosa volunteered to serve in the United States Marine Corps.

In Vietnam, Hinojosa served his country with distinction from 1966 to 1968 before returning home to continue his education. Hinojosa graduated with honors from The University of Texas – Pan American and completed law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

After returning to South Texas, Hinojosa served as staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Nueces County and later as an assistant attorney general for the Texas Attorney General. In 1980, he began his own private practice in McAllen, where he continues to represent clients in both civil and criminal matters.

Senator Hinojosa was elected to the Texas Senate in 2002 after serving in the Texas House for many years. He is vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee, a member of the Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee, Criminal Justice Committee, and the Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs Committee. He also serves on the Senate Select Committee on Texas Ports, the Senate Select Committee on Transportation Planning, and the Sunset Advisory Commission.

Senator Hinojosa has been named one of the "Top Ten Best Legislators" by Texas Monthly magazine for three legislative sessions, a unique and prestigious honor. He was also named "Top Ten Legislator" by Capitol Inside three times as well. Senator Hinojosa is the proud recipient of the 2015 "The University of Texas – Pan American Presidential Pillar Award" in recognition and appreciation of the creation of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and the UTRGV School of Medicine.

Welcome Wilson, Sr.
Welcome Wilson, Sr.
Chairman of Welcome Group
Associate of Arts ’46, UTB/TSC legacy

Welcome Wilson, Sr. has been a Houston real estate developer for 60 years. He is chairman of Welcome Group, owning 4,000,000 square feet of manufacturing and industrial facilities in 87 locations in Texas.

Wilson’s first projects in the 1950s and 1960s were master planned communities, Jamaica Beach and Tiki Island, in Galveston County. Both communities are now separate cities in Texas. He later developed apartments, retail centers, hotels and 3 downtown office buildings.

Wilson’s honors include:

  • Induction into the Texas Business Hall of Fame
  • Lifetime Achievement Award from the Houston Business Journal
  • Honorary doctorate degree from the University of Houston, where he was a BBA graduate in 1949.
  • UH Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1970
  • UH Bauer College of Business Distinguished Alumni Award in 1996
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2005 from Texas Southmost College where he graduated in 1946.

Wilson is a director emeritus of the Greater Houston Partnership, having served a long time as its higher education chairman.

In the past, he was chairman of the board of two Houston banks, chairman of the board of an American stock exchange company, and owned 10% of the Houston Astros baseball team.

Wilson was a long-time chairman of the Board of Regents of the University of Houston, chairman of its Drive to Tier One and is now chairman of its Political Action Committee.

In the 50s and 60s, he served in the Executive Office of the President under Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy. He witnessed the atom bomb test in Nevada and the hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. In 1958, Wilson was awarded the Arthur Fleming Award as One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men in Federal Service (this award was later received by Neil Armstrong and Bill Gates). He was invited and spoke to a joint session of the New Mexico Legislature. He was special ambassador to Nicaragua by appointment of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

After World War II, Wilson served for two years as a naval officer in Japan.

He married his college sweetheart on the day he graduated from UH, 68 years ago. They have 5 kids, 16 grandkids and 16 great-grandkids, one of whom is in college.