One of the Rio Grande Valley's founding families presented an endowed scholarship to South Texas' premier higher education institution during a news conference Wednesday in the International Trade and Technology Building at The University of Texas-Pan American.
The Robert and Margaret McAllen family presented the $70,000 check to UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez to establish the Rodolfo "Rudy" Silva Jr. Endowed Scholarship benefiting students in the College of Education.
Silva, who died in May, was a beloved and longtime educator and principal in Weslaco and a UTPA alumnus. Members of his family, including wife, Virginia, were among those in attendance at the presentation.
Margaret McAllen, who presented the check on behalf of her family, said they got to know Silva when he was principal to their own children.
"Rudy Silva was an educator, humanitarian, scholar and a gentleman. He was encouraging and inspiring to students and to the parents as well," said McAllen. "With this endowment we hope to encourage other students to go into education. We hope some of this great man's qualities will be passed on to future students."
The endowment will be invested, and interest earned from the contribution will be used to fund a full tuition and fees scholarship to a junior or senior majoring in education. McAllen was surprised when Dr. Hilda Medrano, dean of the College of Education, announced that her college would match the scholarship each year.
Virginia Silva said she felt overwhelmed with appreciation for today's tribute to her husband and his career to educating Valley children.
"My husband wanted to help students find money for college, to tap into resources that would get them through school," she said. "Isn't it beautiful that this is exactly what this does?"
Roland S. Arriola, vice president for External Affairs, gave special thanks to staff members Lydia Aleman and Ed Mercer for their work with the McAllen's in setting up the endowment. He said both Robert McAllen and Margaret Looney McAllen have been very supportive of the University.
"The McAllen's and the Looney's have been longtime friends and supporters of the University and we are very grateful for their kindness and generosity throughout the years," Arriola said.
Silva, a 1966 graduate of UTPA, was a popular educator who worked at Weslaco Independent School District for 35 years. He had served as principal of Cleckler-Heald Elementary School for seven years.