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Dr. Robert Nelsen, former president of The University of Texas-Pan American, is named as the new leader of Sacramento State in California

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Robert. S. Nelsen, Ph.D., former President of The University of Texas-Pan American, addressing a gathering at the Student Union Building on Thursday, October 24, 2013.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

The California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees on Wednesday, March 25, appointed former University of Texas-Pan American President Robert. S. Nelsen, Ph.D., as President of California State University, Sacramento (officially known as “Sacramento State”). He will assume leadership of the university in July 2015. “Sacramento State has truly become a destination campus where students receive a transformative educational experience that prepares them for success in the future,” said Nelsen. “The opportunity to work alongside the many dedicated faculty and staff who guide students along that journey and prepare them for achievements beyond the classroom is incredibly exciting.” Nelsen will become the eighth permanent president of Sacramento State and succeeds Alexander González, who will retire at the end of the academic year after 12 years as president. “Dr. Robert Nelsen is an ambitious and visionary leader who will successfully build on the foundation President González has established at Sacramento State,” said CSU Trustee Steve Glazer, chair of the Sacramento State Presidential Search Committee. “He has extensive experience leading a large, diverse university and a long history of always putting students first.” Pedro Reyes, Ph.D., Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the UT System, congratulated Nelsen on the announcement, citing the soon-to-be former UTPA president long-lasting impact in Texas. “Dr. Nelsen served The University of Texas System with great distinction and we will miss his leadership and guidance,” said Reyes. “He embraced the culturally rich environment of the Rio Grande Valley as president of UT Pan American, and his passion and dedication for students and faculty and their success are without comparison.” Nelsen’s importance and influence in Edinburg also was recognized last fall with a proclamation in his honor unanimously approved by the Edinburg City Council. “Jody and I have loved everything about the Rio Grande Valley, and it will be very hard to leave this magical place,” Nelsen said. “But we are excited to embark on a new adventure in California, and we will take all of you with us in our hearts. Somos para siempre familia.”

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Pan American College graduates welcomed “home” for induction into UTPA’s 50+ Club

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Featured at the 50+ Reunion Brunch on Sunday, March 1 at The University of Texas-Pan American are, seated, from left: Cleo Hinojosa, Minerva Elizalde, and former State Rep. Roberto Gutiérrez, D-McAllen, Class of 1965 inductees, and Elma Arriola Ayala, Class of 1964 inductee. Standing, from left, are Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, UTPA President Ad Interim and the founding Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, Lydia Alemán, Interim Vice President for University Advancement, María T. Rodríguez, Class of 1963 inductee, and Rebecca López, Gracie Cobo, John Thobe, and Eva Chapa, Class of 1965 inductees.

Photograph By JOSUE ESPARZA

Pan American College graduates and their guests were welcomed “home” during a 50+Reunion Brunch on Sunday, March 1, by Clara Dina Hinojosa, Interim Director of the The University of Texas-Pan American Alumni Relations Office, and Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, UTPA President Ad Interim and the founding Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. The reunion was part of the university’s 2015 Homecoming Week activities, the last the university will celebrate as UT-Pan American before becoming UT-RGV in September 2015. Rodríguez, who also serves on the Board of Directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, described the state of the university as “strong”, citing its growth in the number of students, improved retention and graduate rates, the recruitment of top notch faculty and the statewide and national recognition of the many quality programs it offers. He also told them about several new buildings being built on the UTPA and UTB campuses as they transition into UT-RGV as well as the progress being made in the creation of the new medical school and the opportunities it will offer to students and in improved access to healthcare to Valley citizens. “We are here because you are here,” Rodríguez said. “I know that we will be able to count on your continuous active engagement, your support, your commitment to The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. This will always be your house. Welcome home.” The EEDC is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and the Edinburg City Council.

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UT-Pan American honors it final Pillars of Success: Mayor Richard García; former Mayor John David Franz; Milestones Co-Owner Carmen Pagan; H-E-B Senior Manager Linda Tovar; and IDEA Public Schools Co-Founder Jo Ann Gama

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Featured, seated, former baseball coach Al Ogletree, at a ceremony on Friday, February 28, at the Boggus Ford Events Center in Pharr. Featured, standing, from left: UTPA President Ad Interim Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, and Pillars of Success Richard García, Carmen Pagan, Jo Ann Gama, Linda Tovar and David Franz.

Photograph By JOSUE ESPARZA

The University of Texas-Pan American celebrated its last homecoming before it becomes The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley by honoring five of its successful alumni on Friday, February, at the Boggus Ford Events Center in Pharr. The public recognition was in honor of those who  have made countless contributions to their alma mater, the Rio Grande Valley and beyond.

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Edinburg retail economy for 2014 shows almost nine percent improvement over 2013

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Featured, seated, from left: Linda Tovar of Edinburg, Senior Manager of Public Affairs, H-E-B; Jo Ann Gonzáles Gama of Edinburg, Co-Founder, President, and Superintendent, IDEA Public Schools; and Carmen Pagan of McAllen, Co-Owner, Milestone Therapeutic Associates. Standing, from left: Edinburg Mayor Richard H. García, Attorney-at-Law, García, Quintanilla and Palacios; and former Hidalgo Mayor John David Franz, Law Offices of John David Franz.

Photograph Courtesy THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS-PAN AMERICAN

Edinburg’s retail economy for the 2014 was 8.62 percent better than 2013, generating $18,935,258 in local sales taxes last year, compared with $17,433,116 the year before, Mayor Richard García has announced. The mayor also is President of the Board of Director for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council. The amount of local sales taxes collected helps reflect the strength of an economy, along with construction activities, per capita income, education, historical performances, and related trends. The $18.9 million annual figure was reached after the city’s economy in December 2014 generated $2,087,133.29 in local sales taxes, keeping pace with the December 2013 output of $2,140,298.48. This latest data was released on Wednesday, February 11, by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. The local sales tax figures represent December 2014 sales reported by monthly tax filers as well as October, November and December sales by businesses that report tax quarterly. The December 2014 local sales taxes were sent to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts in January, and returned as sales tax rebates to the respective local government entities in February. The local sales tax is used in Edinburg to help pay for many city services, while the EEDC uses its one-half cent local sales tax to help generate economic development in the city. The sales tax, formally known as the State Sales and Use Tax, is imposed on all retail sales, leases and rentals of most goods, as well as taxable services. Texas cities, counties, transit authorities and special purpose districts have the option of imposing an additional local sales tax for a combined total of state and local taxes of 8 1/4% (.0825). Edinburg’s local retail economy has shown positive growth since 2008, increasing in its market share in the Valley from 8.05 percent in 2008 to 9.45 percent in 2014, according to Valley-wide data compiled by http://www.MyHarlingen.US, which is the official website for the City of Harlingen. In this image, Garcia is featured with four other area leaders who will be honored as “Presidential Pillars” on Thursday, February 27, as outstanding alumnus of The University of Texas-Pan American. The gala, which raises money for scholarships, is sold out. It is being held at the Boggus Ford Events Center, formerly the Pharr Events Center, beginning at 6:30 p.m. More details about the achievements of García, Franz, Tovar, Gama, and Pagan are available online at: http://www.utpa.edu/news/2015/01/gone-country-bling-it-up-for-final-alumni-ball-feb-27.htm

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Edinburg Mayor García, who also leads EEDC, four other “Pillars of Success”, to be honored by University of Texas-Pan American on Friday, February 27, for achievements as alumni

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Featured, from left: Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodríguez; Congressman Joaquín Castro, D-San Antonio; and Mayor Richard H. García, during the Thursday, January 1, 2015 swearing-in for Rodríguez, held at the Pharr Events Center.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

Honoring his family’s legacy is important to Richard H. García, who can trace his roots in South Texas back to the late 1700s. “When they were colonizing all of the cities here on the river, 38 families were brought to Mier, which was the original colony here,” he said, “My family was part of that group.” Today, as a successful attorney and mayor of the City of Edinburg, the UTPA alumnus and 2015 Pillar of Success continues to build on what his ancestors helped establish in the Rio Grande Valley. The Pillars of Success are the university’s official annual “Alumni” awards, which honor UTPA’s most distinguished alumni. The Pillars of Success celebrate a select group of Broncs for their inspirational stories and outstanding achievements. The event, which raises funds for scholarships, will be held on Friday, February 27, at Boggus Ford Events Center (formerly the Pharr Events Center) at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $100 each and can be purchased online or at the UTPA Alumni Center in Edinburg (2402 S. Closner Blvd.). García talks with pride about a new pedestrian corridor that will connect Edinburg’s City Hall to the UTPA campus and include a Valley Metro station and a new residential complex for students that will feature apartments above retail space, a project that had the enthusiastic blessing of UT-Pan American’s administration. “I was a little nervous with the transition (to The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley), but Guy Bailey (president of the new university) tells me he buys into the whole plan,” García said. Also on the horizon for the City of Edinburg is a new $60 million, 8,500-seat events arena that will be home to the NBA Development League Champion Rio Grande Valley Vipers, beginning in 2017, and will host other sporting events as well as provide a prime location for concerts, graduations and meetings. The 115,799-square-foot arena will be built on 40-acres of land located on the east side of I-69C (US 281) on Alberta Road. The entire property includes nine additional pad sites for the development of a future hotels and restaurants. When the project was announced in November 2013, García said not only will it enhance the economy by millions of dollars, but it will also improve the quality of life for Edinburg residents and visitors. “People want to visit and live in cities where they can get educated, where they can work and where they can play. We’ve created more than 3,500 jobs in the last three years; we have UTPA, which is about to become an even larger UT System campus complete with a medical school; and now we will also have a place for entertainment,” he noted. The mayor also boasts of another project, La Sienna, a 726-acre master planned community along I-69C (US 281) at Monte Cristo Road that is “going gangbusters.” In addition to several moderate to exclusive residential areas, renowned Dallas developer Henry Miller will develop 45 acres along the freeway into what García describes as “a cross between The Quarry and La Cantera (two high-end shopping areas in San Antonio)” that will include water features, restaurants, shops, a hotel and an IMAX theatre. The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council, also has 100 additional acres that it will soon put on the market. “With those two things – the arena and La Sienna – along with the medical school, the sky’s the limit for the city,” said García, the president of the EEDC Board of Directors. He said he is excited about the transition of his alma mater, UTPA, into The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley next year. “When San Antonio got its medical school 25 years ago, the demographics and population were similar to Hidalgo County’s today. Now, San Antonio is the second largest city in Texas and number seven in the nation. That’s because of the medical investment. That’s what I see happening to us down here, and the impacts will be the medical school and UT-RGV. The fact that it’s going to be the second largest in the UT System speaks volumes, and Dr. Bailey said we may end up being even larger than UT Austin in numbers. Wow, what can you say about that?”

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