Inaugural Borderlands Symposium to be held May 1
Posted: 04/26/2007
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In an effort to educate the Rio Grande Valley community about local people of historical significance the College of Education at The University of Texas-Pan American will launch the Borderlands Symposium May 1.

Dr. Ramiro Casso
"The purpose of the Borderlands Symposium is to showcase important people, events and processes that have shaped history, culture and the story of the Rio Grande Valley," Dr. Velma Menchaca, interim dean for the College of Education, said.

The first individual to be featured in the symposium will be Dr. Ramiro Casso, a retired longtime McAllen physician.

"Dr. Casso was chosen because he is a distinguished local hero who has not received his due historically," Dr. Francisco Guajardo, assistant professor of education, said.

The Borderlands Symposium will kick off at noon where Casso will talk to undergraduate students about the importance of being engaged with the community. A research seminar with faculty will follow at 1:30 p.m. The day will culminate with a panel presentation open to the public at 7 p.m. that will include testimonials on the life and legacy of Casso in the Education Complex Auditorium, Room 1.102. Several prominent community members will participate in the evening discussion, which will be held in the new College of Education Auditorium.

Additionally, an exhibit of photographs and historic documents that reflect the life and impact of Casso will be on display in the Borderlands room in the third floor of the College of Education Complex. This exhibit will be up until mid-May.

"The purpose of the Borderlands room is to have an area in the college that reflects the Borderland region and to celebrate the culture on both sides of the river through research, engaging the community, and honoring individuals who have made an impact," Guajardo said.

Casso, who was born in Laredo, Texas, has lived in South Texas most of his life. Most notably he is credited with helping civil rights leaders negotiate an end to segregation of Hispanic students in public schools. He also supported the farm workers in South Texas and treated the injuries of workers beaten during a 1967 strike in Rio Grande City. In his career as a physician he founded three charity clinics in Hidalgo County. Casso also co-founded the Hidalgo County Health Care Corporation which provided health care services to the poor.

He received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University, a bachelor's in chemistry from Baylor University and a doctorate in medicine from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. He practiced medicine in McAllen for 37 years as a board certified family physician and retired in 1995.

"Latino Monthly" named Casso one of 100 Outstanding Hispanic Americans for the 20th century. In 2001, the South Texas Community College Board of Directors named the STCC Nursing and Allied Health Center, the Dr. Ramiro R. Casso Nursing and Allied Health Center.

The Borderlands Symposium will be held once a semester, honoring a new individual each time.

For more information about the College of Education Borderlands Symposium, contact Guajardo at 956/381-3436.