Two of Texas’s most creative and energetic leaders in higher education were honored by the Board of Regents today for their roles in transforming the educational environment of the Rio Grande Valley.
At the August meeting of the Board of Regents, Chairman Paul Foster presented Certificates of Appreciation to UT Brownsville President Juliet Garcia and UT Pan American President Robert Nelsen. Both presidents are stepping down at the end of August as their institutions become part of the new UT Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV).
Chairman Foster praised Garcia for her 22 years of outstanding service as president of UT Brownsville, thanking her for devoting her life’s work to higher education in the Rio Grande Valley. He described her as a national thought leader who has won numerous awards and recognitions for her leadership, and whose major focus on student success is exemplary. More than 35,000 students graduated from UT Brownsville during her presidency.
President Garcia thanked the Board of Regents for the honor and said it had been a privilege to serve the people of the Rio Grande Valley by telling their stories, witnessing their struggles, and helping students to complete their degrees and launch careers.
She thanked former chancellor Hans Mark for establishing two University of Texas institutions in the Valley, which she said have provided educational opportunities to students on both sides of the border and have developed new generations of leaders.
She recognized Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and Regent Gene Powell for “their act of courage and political acumen” to create UTRGV, which she said would honor the Valley’s heritage and forever transform that region of Texas.
Chairman Foster also recognized the outstanding service of President Robert Nelsen at UT Pan American, praising him for embracing the culturally rich environment of the Rio Grande Valley and setting a strong course of excellence at UTPA. Foster also thanked Nelsen for ensuring student success and supporting community engagement. President Nelsen was unable to attend in person.