Plans underway for Department of Educational Leadership alumni reunion
Posted: 08/08/2002
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The Department of Educational Leadership at The University of Texas-Pan American is looking to get in touch with more than 800 of its alumni to take part in UTPA history - the institution's 75th anniversary celebration, which runs from September to August 2003.

The department - formerly the Department of School Administration and Supervision - will honor its alumni with a reception/dinner scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. at the University Ballroom.

The UTPA Department of Educational Leadership - formerly the Department of School Administration and Supervision - will honor its alumni with a reception/dinner Thursday, Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. at the University Ballroom. Former and current UTPA professors and administrators are expected to attend the event. From left, is Dr. Col. Carl R. Carlan, retired professor and chair of the department; Dr. Miguel de los Santos, department associate professor and event planner; and Dr. Jerry Pulley, retired professor.
"A committee comprised of UTPA faculty and alumni has been planning this event to honor the successes of our former students," said Dr. Velma D. Menchaca-Ochoa, associate professor and chair of the Department of Educational Leadership.

Dr. Miguel de los Santos, department associate professor and a 1967 UTPA graduate in secondary education, is also one of the planners for the celebration, along with Menchaca.

"We believe the majority of principals and superintendents in the Rio Grande Valley came out of this department," said de los Santos. "I think this (event) is a great opportunity to show pride in what we do."

The event will feature a social at 6 p.m., followed by dinner with Dr. Felipe Alanis, a UTPA alumnus from San Juan and the state's first Hispanic education commissioner, at 7 p.m. and conclude with an awards and recognition ceremony at 8 p.m.

De los Santos said the event will pay tribute to the hard work and dedication of school administrators in the Valley as well as those who have left South Texas.

"This Department and University have given many young people the opportunity to continue their education," de los Santos said. "I don't know if many of us would have made it if it were not for Pan Am."

Among the school superintendents and administrators in the Valley who were products of the department are Gene Gutierrez, Edinburg ISD superintendent; Arturo Guajardo, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD superintendent; Jesus Guerra, Roma ISD superintendent; Roberto Zamora, La Joya ISD superintendent; Daniel King, Hidalgo ISD superintendent; Rolando Pena, Rio Hondo ISD superintendent; and many others.

UTPA faculty members who were students in the program include Dr. Hilda Medrano, Dean of the College of Education; Menchaca; and Mary Alice Reyes, GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) director.

An open house of the department is also in the works as part of the celebration.

"During the month of October, we will also plan to have an open house for our alumni to come back, contribute and share what they have learned and experienced over the years to aspiring administrators," de los Santos said.

Among the former colleagues and professors expected to attend the reception/dinner are Drs. Col. Carl R. Carlan, Jerry Pulley, Dennis McCabe, Barry Thompson and Fred Cunningham.

"This is a chance to celebrate a sense of accomplishment," said Carlan, who retired from UTPA in 2000 and was Chair of the Department in the '80s. "Many of these people knew each other as fellow students, and now they will return in a position of leadership."

Carlan, who taught several education courses in the department, is proud to be a part of UTPA's celebration and history. He hopes the leaders in education will come out and support the joys of learning and the University's 75th anniversary.

"I really feel its been an honor and privilege to be a part of all this in terms of service, leadership and also in a sense of mentoring," Carlan said.

Last year, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved the departmental name change. The department also offers the University's second freestanding doctoral degree, a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership. The program was started in 1993 in cooperation with UT Austin and became a freestanding program at UTPA in 1998.

For more information or to be a sponsor in the celebration, contact de los Santos or Menchaca at 956/381-3436.