AUSTIN, Texas – The McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s governmental affairs committee chairman is to serve on a state agency.

Governor Greg Abbott has tapped McAllen optometrist Fred Farias, III, for a vacancy on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. If approved by the Texas Senate, Farias will serve on the THECB until August 31, 2019.

In a news release, the Governor’s Office states that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is responsible for promoting access, quality and cost efficiency in the state’s institutions of higher education.

Dr. Farias and Abbott go back years, to their college days at UT Austin. During the campaign for governor last year, Farias told the Rio Grande Guardian how, back when Abbott was first running for statewide office, when hardly anyone in the Rio Grande Valley had heard of him, Farias would host events for Abbott and only a handful people would show up.

Farias, a Rio Grande Valley native, is coming to the end of his term as president of the Texas Optometric Association. TOA represents more than 3,000 Doctors of Optometry in Texas.

TOA provided biographical details on Farias: He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science in Speech Communication in 1980. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a Minor in Physics in 1985 and his Doctor of Optometry degree in 1987 from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee. After graduating from optometry school Dr. Farias worked with Bausch and Lomb in the professional services division. He lectured internationally on contact lenses and contact lens solutions.

Farias opened his own practice, 20/20 Vision, in 1988 in his home town of McAllen and has practiced optometry in the same location for over 26 years.

Farias served on the Texas Optometric Association Board of Trustees from 1994 to 2001. He was awarded the TOA Young Optometrist of the Year Award from TOA in 1998.

In 2001, then-Texas Governor Rick Perry appointed Farias to the Texas Optometry Board where he served for seven years and also served as chair of the Licensing and Administration Committee. Farias has also served on the University of Texas (UT) System Chancellor’s Executive Committee, the UT College of Communication Advisory Council (2001-2004), the University of Texas Longhorn Athletic Advisory Council and co-founded the University of Texas Hispanic Alumni Committee in 2001.

In 2002, Farias was awarded the University of Texas at Austin Young Alumni of the Year Award. He earned a fellowship in the American Academy of Optometry in 2012.

Farias has served as president of his local society, the Rio Grande Valley Optometric Association. He is a current member of the American Optometric Association Sports Vision Section and serves on the 2014-2015 AOA Federal Legislative Advocacy Committee. Farias is also a provider for the InfantSEE and Vision USA public health programs.

Farias is on the McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors and currently serves as chairman of the Chamber’s Governmental Affairs Council. He has served on the Vannie E. Cook Cancer Center board of directors, the American Cancer Society board of directors as well as the Arthritis Foundation Board, Lions Club, McAllen Boys and Girls Club and various other organizations.

This year Farias was named the University of Houston College of Optometry Volunteer of the Year and was selected by the University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry as the 2014 commencement speaker.