T. Edward Mercer, longtime UTPA administrator, dies at age 73
Posted: 11/27/2007
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Former UTPA administrator T. Edward Mercer , who served as The University of Texas-Pan American's first vice president for Institutional Advancement and helped to build from the ground up the UTPA Foundation and an endowment fund of more than $30 million upon his retirement in 1999, passed away Sunday, Nov. 25 after a yearlong battle with brain cancer.

- T. Edward Mercer
"The University of Texas-Pan American has just lost a dedicated and truly honorable friend. The light that he lit in South Texas and the University will shine in the lives of many for generations to come. We are deeply saddened by his death and profoundly grateful for his life," stated UTPA President Dr. Blandina Cárdenas.

Born in Austin, Texas on July 29, 1934, Mercer grew up in the Round Rock area where he was an outstanding athlete and valedictorian of his graduating class. He attended Howard Payne University in Brownwood on a football scholarship and later married his college sweetheart, Anna (Henson) Mercer. Upon graduation, the couple moved to Louisville, Ky. where Mercer earned a master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Seminary. Returning to Texas, he also earned a Master of Arts from The University of Texas at Austin in 1960.

Before joining then Pan American University in January 1982, Mercer worked as a professor of sociology at Mary Hardin-Baylor, where he advanced to serve in various administrative positions leaving in 1980 as vice president for Institutional Advancement. Mercer was noted for his gift of showing care to others and his talents as an educator and fund raiser. During his 18 years at Mary Hardin-Baylor, Mercer obtained the largest single cash gift and the largest single deferred gift in the school's history. He also was deferred gift coordinator for the Southwest United States at the Northwood Institute, a private school in Houston.

Founding board members of the UTPA Foundation long ago credited Mercer's dedication and persistence in making the organization a success. Starting in 1982 with a budget of $20,000 and $36.12 in the bank, Mercer built the University's now multi-million endowment from an initial $75,000 through the cultivation of major corporations, foundations and individual donors throughout the United States.

Responsible for planning, directing and implementing the University's advancement program, Mercer oversaw two successful capital campaigns, one garnering $30 million for the construction of UTPA's state-of-the-art Engineering Building. He also helped to secure major funds from the sale of state property owned by former governor Allan Shivers as well as to facilitate the gift of the Shary Estate to the University in 1998. After his retirement, Mercer remained a part-time member of UTPA's advancement team as its chief planned giving officer until 2004.

Mercer was an active member of many committees and boards in communities where he lived. He served with his wife as houseparents at the Round Rock Children's Home and pastored at the Buckner's Boys Ranch. He was a loving family man and enjoyed many hobbies including vegetable and rose gardening, hunting, fishing and especially cattle ranching at The Grove during the 1970s.

He is survived by his wife Anna; daughter Beth Beck and husband Paul; son Bruce Mercer and wife Valerie; six grandchildren; and one great-grandson.

Services will be held in Belton, Texas at the Dossman Funeral Home. Visitation will be 6-8 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 27 and the funeral will be held at 2 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 28.

An Edward Mercer Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established by Mr. and Mrs. Carlos X. Guerra with the UTPA Foundation to honor his life's work. Contributions can be made to the UTPA Foundation and sent to The University of Texas-Pan American, Office of the Division of University Advancement, ITT 1.210, Attn: Lydia Aleman, 1201 W. University Dr., Edinburg, Texas 78539-2999.

A guest book to send condolences to his family is available through The Monitor newspaper at