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UTPA to honor Cunningham, Mercer at annual Founders Day Dinner Sept. 23 in McAllen
Contact: Janice Odom 318-5303
Posted: 09/15/1999
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The University of Texas-Pan American will celebrate two anniversaries and salute two special members of the university family - UT System Chancellor William H. Cunningham and T. Edward Mercer, who recently retired as UTPA vice president for institutional advancement - at the 1999 Founders Day Dinner Thursday, Sept. 23, at the McAllen Country Club.

"This year at Founders Day, in addition to our traditional commemoration of the institution's founding in 1927, we will be celebrating our 10th anniversary as a proud member of The University of Texas System," said UTPA president Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez.

"We've also chosen this year to recognize two men who are closing out their professional associations with the university after making a tremendous positive impact on the institution," he said.

Mercer, who joined then-Pan American University in January 1982 as its first vice president for institutional advancement, retired from full-time service to UTPA Aug. 31, but remains a part-time member of the advancement team as the chief planned giving officer.

Cunningham has announced that he will retire Aug. 31, 2000. After serving seven years as president of The University of Texas at Austin, he was named chancellor in 1992, Pan American's third year as a member of the UT System.

"Ed Mercer's influence on UT Pan American will be felt for many years, for many reasons," said President Nevárez. "But his greatest legacies will be an almost $25 million endowment and the UT Pan American Foundation, both of which he built from virtually the ground up."

Cunningham, since becoming UT System chancellor seven years ago, has been a major supporter of higher education initiatives in South Texas, Nevárez said.

"Chancellor Cunningham has been a strong proponent of the South Texas Border Initiative, which has meant millions of dollars for program and facility development and enhancement at UT Pan American," Dr. Nevárez said. "He also established as a system-wide priority the building of partnerships with the public schools in each component institution's service area. This has been a very important focus for us here in South Texas."

Cunningham also led the effort to develop the Lower Rio Grande Valley Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC), which will have a research component adjacent to the UTPA campus.

"Both Ed Mercer and Bill Cunningham have had tremendous influence on the development of UT Pan American into the Rio Grande Valley's only doctoral degree-granting institution, and we are proud to be honoring them together at our 1999 Founders Day," Nevárez said. "In the years to come, we will miss their leadership, but we certainly will benefit from their legacies to our university."

Proceeds from the Founders Day Dinner will benefit the Greater University Fund, UTPA's annual effort to develop unrestricted gifts that can be used to enhance the educational experience for the university's almost 13,000 students.

The Founders Day Dinner will include a reception at 6:30 p.m. and dinner at 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 956/318-5301.