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UTPA celebrates five distinguished alums and Valley legislative delegation at Alumni Ball
Posted: 03/31/2014
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The University of Texas-Pan American turned the clock back to the Roaring Twenties March 29 at its annual Alumni Ball.

UT Pan American honored its 2014 Pillars of Success at its annual Alumni Ball March 29. Pictured left to right are UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen; 2014 Pillars of Success Daniel P. King, Ph.D., Lynda Y. de la Viña, Ph.D., Dan Martinez, Pablo Vela Jr., and Jose Daniel "Danny" Saenz; and UTPA Vice President for University Advancement Veronica Gonzales. The pillar panels in the Visitors Center were unveiled in a ceremony there prior to the Alumni Ball.
Honored at the "Great Gatsby"-themed ball, hosted by UTPA and the UTPA Alumni Association, were five distinguished alumni as UTPA's "Pillars of Success." The Rio Grande Valley legislative delegation was also recognized in a Presidential Pillar for their efforts to create the new university - The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley - and a medical school in the Valley.

The Pillars of Success are a group of accomplished alumni who were chosen among their peers each year for their personal and career success and serve as role models for current and future Broncs.

The 2014 Pillar of Success honorees, who received a medal and will be highlighted for the next year on a pillar in the UTPA Visitors Center, included Lynda Y. de la Viña, Ph.D. (BA '72), Peter Flawn Professor, Department of Entrepreneurship and Technology Director, Center for Global Entrepreneurship, The University of Texas at San Antonio; Daniel P. King, Ph.D. (BS '76, M.Ed. '77), superintendent, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District; Dan Martinez (BBA '78), CEO, Dan Martinez & Associates, L.P.; Jose Daniel "Danny" Saenz (BBA '87), deputy commissioner, Texas Department of Insurance; and Pablo Vela Jr. (BBA '68), partner, Long Chilton, L.L.P.

This year a special Presidential Pillar was designated to thank the 10 Valley members of the Texas Legislature for their support, belief and incredible hard work and dedication that led to the passage of legislation creating UTRGV and the new medical school. Legislators honored included Senators Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa and Eddie Lucio Jr.; and Representatives René Oliveira, Ryan Guillen, Armando "Mando" Martinez, Eddie Lucio III, Sergio Muñoz Jr., Terry Canales, Robert "Bobby" Guerra, and Oscar Longoria.

In his welcome to the honorees and their families, UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen described how thousands of young Valley students who visit the Visitor Center exhibits will also read the distinguished alumni's stories of success.

"The Pillars ignite dreams," Nelsen said. "The students read about someone who has graduated from Pan Am, someone who has made a difference, somebody they can dream about and that can inspire them so they can have that same success."

In his thank you to the legislators, Nelsen said their work helped bring $196 million in Permanent University Fund to the University allowing construction of much needed buildings and creating many new opportunities for UTPA students.

Guests at the sold-out Alumni Ball enjoyed 20s era entertainment by UTPA's Blazer Dancers, a photo booth, live and silent auctions and casino games. Proceeds from the ball will go toward student scholarships. The ball's title sponsor was Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. Other major sponsors were H-E-B, IBC Bank, Long Chilton, LLP, The Monitor, Ruben Perez (BBA '77), Texas National Bank, Dan Martinez (BBA '78) and Germania Farm Mutual.

Enjoy the following Facebook photo galleries: 2014 Pillars of Success; Alumni Ball;and Alumni Ball Photo Booth. Read more about the newest and past pillars at the Pillars of Success archive. To learn more about becoming involved in UTPA alumni activities or join the alumni association, call (956)665-2500.