Philanthropist Jeffers donates largest single gift ever to UTPA
Contact: Julia Benitez Sullivan 381-2741
Posted: 03/07/2001
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Philanthropist Albert L. Jeffers announced Tuesday, March 6 that he will contribute a $2.6 million unitrust to The University of Texas-Pan American - the largest single planned gift by an individual donated to the University.

"In the few years I have known him," said Roland S. Arriola, vice president for External Affairs at UTPA, "I have been most impressed by his kind and gentle manner, his deep interest in helping others and his generous spirit."

Al Jeffers, sixth from left, recently donated $2.6 million to UTPA, the largest single gift ever to the University. With him are, from left, Morgan Talbot, UTPA Foundation board member; UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevarez; Blanca Nevarez; Calvin Bentsen; Mary Lea Jeffers; Forrest Fitch; Roland S. Arriola, UTPA vice president for External Affairs; Anna Mercer; Ed Mercer, UTPA director of Planned Giving; Cristina Cook; and Mark Cook.

Jeffers, an attorney specializing in intellectual property law, is well known nationally and internationally. He is a Methodist and served on the Board of Trustees of The University of Evansville in Indiana for more than 35 years.

Driven by a passionate belief in the power of education, he created several charitable remainder unitrusts naming universities as beneficiaries, including his most recent to UTPA.

Although from the Midwest, Jeffers has roots in the Rio Grande Valley. His cousin, Wallace H. Duncan, practiced medicine here beginning in the late 1920s and helped found a five-bed hospital that later evolved into what is now the McAllen Medical Center.

Jeffers had been a frequent visitor to the Rio Grande Valley for more than 50 years before becoming a Winter Texan in 1989, when he retired. He and his wife, Mary Lea, now live in Duncan's estate in south McAllen during the winter season.

Duncan had donated funds for nursing scholarships at UTPA, which is how Jeffers - who handled his cousin's legal matters - first became acquainted with the University. In addition to supporting The University of Texas-Pan American, Jeffers has been a generous supporter of Purdue University, Southern Illinois University and The University of Evansville.

Jeffers presented his donation to UTPA President Miguel A. Nevárez at a luncheon at the McAllen Country Club. Nevárez was joined by his wife, Blanca. Also in attendance were Arriola; UTPA Director of Planned Giving T. Edward Mercer and his wife, Anna; UTPA Foundation board member Morgan Talbot; Mark and Cristina Cook; Dr. Forrest Fitch; and Calvin Bentsen.

"I have been very impressed with President Mike Nevárez and with the leadership at the University," Jeffers said. "I've attended Foundation board meetings as a guest for the past 11 years and have seen this University grow. Now I want to do something to help ensure its continued growth."

The funds will be used for full scholarships to the University and will help many future generations of college students follow their dreams.

The University plans to name its theatre of dramatic arts the Albert L. Jeffers Theatre in honor of his generosity.

"The theatre manifests the confidence and trust of the Jeffers family in the goals of The University of Texas-Pan American and in the academic and cultural welfare of all its students now and in the future," said Jeffers.