In honor of Albert L. Jeffers, the philanthropist who earlier this year contributed a $2.6 million unitrust to The University of Texas-Pan American, the theater in the Communication Arts and Science Building was formally renamed the Albert L. Jeffers Theatre in a Friday, Dec. 7 ceremony.
A bronze plaque with a profile and description of Jeffers was unveiled outside the theater following the University's evening performance of "A Christmas Carol." Attendees included Jeffers; his wife, Mary Lea; Roland S. Arriola, vice president for External Affairs; and Ed Mercer, director of Planned Giving.
"I am very honored and humbled by this," Jeffers said. "I have known the University for about 15-20 years and watched it grow, and I want to help it continue growing. The University has a great staff, great professors and a wonderful theatre."
Jeffers' contribution is the largest single planned gift by an individual donated to UTPA. Funds are being used for full scholarships to the University and will help many future generations of college students follow their dreams.
"We really want to extend our thanks to the Jeffers for the wonderful and generous gift they have bestowed on this University," Arriola said. "It is our goal to try to continue to grow our University and make it a fine institution. We can do this by having great faculty, great students, and the financial support and help of individuals like the Jeffers."
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, Jeffers has created several charitable remainder unitrusts naming universities as beneficiaries, including his recent contribution 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 now live in Duncan's estate in south McAllen during the winter season.
"We are deeply appreciative of the Jeffers for what they've done for the University and will continue to do," Mercer said. "They'll be coming to McAllen on a permanent basis as soon as possible."