UTPA staff honored at annual staff awards ceremony
Posted: 04/28/2005
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Staff employees at The University of Texas-Pan American were honored during the 17th annual Staff Employee Awards ceremony April 25.

Employees were recognized for their length of service and meritorious contributions. Also honored were employees who retired during 2004.

UTPA President Dr. Blandina Cárdenas thanked the more than 200 employees assembled at the ceremony for their dedicated service.

"I've come to understand a university is a thousand single acts every day in which people choose to do a good job and go the extra mile," Cárdenas said. "Most importantly, you choose to treat all who come to UT Pan American professionally, with courtesy and respect, and I am so grateful to you for that."

Pictured from left to right are UTPA's Vice President for Business Affairs James Langabeer; Ernesto Mata, manager of the maintenance and repair shop at the University; and UTPA President Dr. Blandina Cárdenas. Mata was honored for 35 years of service to the University.
Seventy employees were recognized for five years of service to UTPA; 37 employees for 10 years of service; and 29 employees for 15 years of service.

Also honored were four employees who have been at the University for 20 years; six employees for 25 years; and three employees for 30 years. Leota Virginia Hull, director of the UTPA computer center, and Ernesto Mata, manager of the maintenance and repair shop at the University, were each recognized for 35 years of service. Each recipient was presented with a certificate, pin and a UTPA memento.

Eight employees were nominated by their peers for their exemplary job performance and were presented with Staff Senate Awards and a personalized plaque. Additionally, seven former employees were recognized who retired during 2004.

The Meritorious Service Awards recognized employees whose performance and dedication were beyond that normally expected. The recipients this year were: Chad Martin, Residence Life; Mario Salinas, Student Financial Services; Dolores Villarreal, Student Financial Services; Blinda Vela-Torres, Office of the Provost; Javier Guajardo, Physical Plant; Rumaldo Guerra, Physical Plant; Leticia Benavides, Auxiliary Services; Cindi Avitia, Division of External Affairs; Frank Zecca, Computer Center; Eddie Palacios, Computer Center; Joe Hinojosa, Computer Center; Tony Martinez, Computer Center; Letty Garza, Academic Affairs; Dela Howlett, Enrollment and Student Services; Josie Lopez, Office of the President; and Roy Rodriguez, Office of the President. Recipients received a personalized plaque, framed citation and a monetary award.

Pictured from left to right are UTPA's Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Rodolfo Arévalo; Sylvia Ybarra, secretary in the nursing department; and Dr. Carolina Huerta, professor and chair of the Department of Nursing. Ybarra received the Distinguished Service Award as well as a Staff Senate Award.
Two Distinguished Service Awards were given to honor employees who "distinguished themselves through acts of courage, selflessness, or dedication so outstanding as to clearly set the individual apart from his/her contemporaries."

Sylvia R. Ybarra, secretary of the nursing department, was honored with a Distinguished Service Award for her more than 30 years of service. She served as a role model for people in the department, worked with faculty internationally to promote the exchange of educational programs in nursing and helped raise more than $300,000 for nursing scholarships. She received a personalized plaque, framed citation and a cash award of $500.

The Distinguished Service Team Award was presented to 48 staff members who comprised the Hispanic Science, Engineering and Technology (HESTEC) Coordinating Team. The team was responsible for bringing many corporate and government executives to campus, promoting the importance of science literacy to thousands of students, teachers, parents and grandparents and also helped raise more than $1.4 million for student scholarships. Each employee on the team received a framed citation and a cash award of $100 each.

For more information about the UTPA staff awards and for a listing of employees recognized, visit the Web site