Dr. Jerry Price, associate vice president and dean of students at The University of Texas-Pan American, is headed to the West Coast in July to join Chapman University as its next vice chancellor of student affairs and dean of students.
The Division of Enrollment and Student Services honored Price, whose last day is June 27, for his years of service to UTPA and its students at a farewell reception June 20 at the Visitors Center.
"I will miss many, many things about UTPA. I have been lucky to have such a wonderful, hard-working staff, plus colleagues who are respected in their profession and represent UTPA very well. I definitely will miss the unique culture of the (Rio Grande) Valley; as I tell my friends elsewhere, the Valley is a blend of three countries - the U.S., Mexico, and Texas. There is no place like it, and it has been my good fortune to have been a part of it," Price said.
Another aspect of UTPA that Price said he will miss are the students, who over the years he has come to admire for their commitment to creating a better future for themselves and the community.
"I will miss the UTPA students, who have approached their education with such enthusiasm and such an open mind. What I will remember most about our students is their eagerness to invest in their own growth and development - their desire to become better," he said.
Price said it was a very difficult decision - professionally and personally - to leave UTPA.
"I wasn't out looking for another position; in fact, I declined to be considered for several that were brought to my attention. However, when I was contacted about the opportunity at Chapman, something just felt that it was the right next step for my family and me," he said.
At UTPA, Price helped make the University experience as rewarding and enjoyable as possible for its students said Dr. John A. Edwards, vice president for Division of Enrollment and Student Services, about Price during the reception. Edwards said Price has served as a "sage" adviser to him since his arrival in 2003, always making sure that he had the student viewpoint in mind when making decisions.
"I have been the luckiest vice president because Jerry Price was here," Edwards said.
He said Price helped change the face of UTPA, and leaves a lasting legacy with his many contributions to campus and student life, including the $26 million Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex.
"Jerry was the moving force behind getting the idea started and pushed, and he encouraged the students to support the idea. He helped plan it with students, and he helped the architects and builders, again alongside students, to make the Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex a successful unit on this campus," Edwards said.
In 2005, Price created the Student Leadership Academy, a leadership development program that offers meaningful learning experiences that teach and challenge students through service opportunities, interactive workshops and insights from accomplished leaders in the surrounding communities. Also, during his tenure, Price developed the Distinguished Speakers Series at UTPA, which brought prominent speakers to campus such as former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, television icon Dan Rather, former president of the Soviet Union and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mikhail Gorbachev, famed humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina of Rwanda, Africa, and many more.
Price said that when he arrived in 2003 his goals were to help students understand that there were valuable learning opportunities outside the classroom as well as inside, and to expand and develop those opportunities so that more students would invest in them.
"In this respect I feel very good about what we have accomplished in the last five years. We have seen significant increases in student organization membership, community service participation, and campus activities. However, I am also very proud of the growth and vibrancy of our Student Government Association. In the past five years the SGA has grown from just another student organization to a valuable player in UTPA's decision-making process," he said.
Price's new position at Chapman will involve much of the same responsibilities he had at UTPA, but will also include career and counseling services. Chapman University, located in Orange County, is one of the oldest, most prestigious private universities in California.
"I can assure you that I am always going to carry UTPA and the Valley wherever I go. I think every person should have to come down here for six months and live because you will leave with a better perspective of what it means to be an American and citizen of this country," he said.