UTPA, UT System and UTB to hold Vista Summit
Posted: 09/22/2011
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The University of Texas-Pan American, along with The University of Texas System and The University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB), are bringing leaders of some of the world's most prominent philanthropic organizations to the Rio Grande Valley to learn how they can work together to transform the community.

On Oct. 5-6, UT Pan American, UTB and UT System will host the UT Vista Summit at UTB that will include local, state and national leaders in education, health care, industry, public policy, government and philanthropy to discuss opportunities to foster advances in education, health care and economic development in the Valley.

On Wednesday, Oct. 5., UT Chancellor Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa will share his vision of how these organizations can work with UT System, its institutions in the Valley and other partners in addressing South Texas' needs to advance in education, health care and economic development. Those who attend the afternoon opening of the summit will also hear from Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank, 11th District in Dallas, who will talk about the importance of Hispanics in the Valley and their role in the country's future, said UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen.

"It is an unprecedented event," Nelsen said. "The significance of the foundations coming to the Valley itself is making a large statement about the chancellor's vision for the Valley. ... UT System understands how important we (UTPA and UTB) and the Valley are for the future of Texas."

UT System and its Rio Grande Valley institutions invited chief executive officers and other top officials of nonprofit foundations including the Ford Foundation, Lumina Foundation, Gates Foundation, Robert J. Woods Foundation, Greater Texas Foundation and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics to participate in the event.

"The summit is an opportunity for us to show ways that we can be involved and for them to begin thinking of ways to get involved," Nelsen said.

On Thursday, Oct. 6, representatives from these foundations will hear from parents of students, alumni and faculty members of area institutions about the importance of higher education in the Valley and what these institutions are doing to help progress the community. Evan Smith, editor-in-chief and CEO of the Texas Tribune, will moderate those panel discussions.

Participants will also hear from Bruce Katz, vice president of the Brookings Institution and Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Syracuse University in New York, about what roles institutions of higher learning play in developing communities.

"UT Pan Am has worked with a lot of foundations in the past; we've worked with a lot of corporations as well," Nelsen said." With this summit, we have a chance to go beyond band-aids and really make major transformations in the Valley."

Nelsen said he hopes initiatives that develop from this summit will allow UT Pan American to work with fellow institutions of higher learning in the Valley to expand projects the University is working on such as those to train educators specializing in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields and to study health care issues the community faces including diabetes and obesity.

For more information on the Vista Summit, visit the event's website.