The University of Texas-Pan American announced at a June 21 press conference that the University had raised $1 million for the establishment of the Miguel A. Nevárez Endowed Chair for the College of Education. The endowed chair honors the legacy of Nevárez, who served as the president of UTPA from 1981-2004.
Roland S. Arriola, vice president for External Affairs, said the journey to reach this level started more than a year ago. Following a fund raiser for the endowment held in April 2004 where $250,000 was raised, efforts to raise additional funds continued.
David Guerra, president/CEO of IBC Bank and vice chair of the UTPA Foundation who spoke on behalf of Foundation Board President Joe Ramirez, read from a letter Ramirez had written for the press conference announcing the funds that had been raised. Ramirez wrote that establishing a chair in the College of Education was very appropriate to honor Nevárez. His letter said "Dr. Nevárez has achieved during his presidency great things and has shown tremendous leadership and vision. He has been here for the University in good years and in the bad. He has exhibited excellent interpersonal, judgmental and organizational skills that are required of a good leader to take this institution forward."
Among the almost 50 people present were Foundation Board members Bill Ellis and A.R. Guerra as well as some of the major donors to the endowment funds. Attendees also witnessed the unveiling of the official oil portrait of Nevárez that will hang in the President's office area with the portraits of the other five former presidents of the institution.
UTPA President Dr. Blandina Cárdenas also spoke and thanked Nevárez for his years of service as well as praised the support of his family in his efforts for the University. In thanking the donors - both individual and corporate - she said the creation of endowed chairs is critical to the advancement of the University.
UTPA currently has six other endowed chairs and five endowed professorships. Cárdenas said she hoped to establish many more endowments in the future. "I think the fact that we were able to raise this money in the Valley for an endowed chair sends a powerful message that it can be done," she said.
Nevárez, accompanied by his wife Blanca and other family members and friends, thanked the University community, donors and Nevárez Legacy Committee members for their work in establishing the endowed chair. The committee included Morris Atlas, Alonso Cantú, Noe Fernandez, Arturo E. Guerra, Jr., R. David Guerra, Margaret L. McAllen, Paul S. Moxley, Sonia Perez, Glen E. Roney, John Schrock, Sr. and Roberto J. Yzaguirre.
Nevárez said the million dollar amount came as a surprise but noted that raising these funds shows the community will support education and the university's goal of becoming a doctoral and research institution.
"I think they realize that education is the foundation to improve the quality of life," he said.
Nevárez said he had one sincere desire about the chair. "I really hope this chair becomes a beacon of education. We have made some really good strides in education here in the Valley but we still have a long ways to go. I want this chair to become a voice for education," he said.
The endowed chair will require a written endowment plan approved by the Board of Regents and an extensive search before the faculty position will be filled. Endowment funds can be used to supplement faculty salaries and support expenditures for course development, research, graduate assistants, equipment and library resources.
For more information on the Miguel A. Nevárez Endowed Chair in the College of Education or establishing an endowed chair, contact the UTPA Office of Development at 956/381-3361.