AUSTIN, Texas – Guy Bailey does not start working as president of UT-Rio Grande Valley until June 15 but he has already announced his transition team to help prepare for the morphing of UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville into UTRGV.
There are 13 individuals in the leadership team, with six administrators from UTPA, four from UTB, two from the UT System, plus dean of the UTRGV Medical School Francisco Fernandez.
Bailey said the team will assist in bringing together the talents, assets and resources of both UTPA and UTB to establish the new institution. The transition team members will work closely with a broader team of administrators at The University of Texas System that has been working diligently on UTRGV’s establishment for the past year and half, he explained.
“This is a monumental challenge that no one person can accomplish,” Bailey said. “I am relying on the deep wealth of talent and skills at the two existing institutions, as well as the knowledge and expertise at the UT System, to assist me in bringing this new university – and all of the promise and opportunity it holds – to life.”
The transition team consists of:
• Dr. Janna Arney, currently Associate Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs at UTB
• Marty Baylor, currently Vice President for Business Affairs at UTPA
• Liza Benson, Assistant Director of Change Management for UT System
• Dr. Martha Cantu, currently Vice President for Student Affairs at UTPA
• Irv Downing, currently Vice President for Economic Development and Community Services at UTB
• Veronica Gonzales, currently Vice President for University Advancement at UTPA
• Dr. Francisco Fernandez, Dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine
• Letty Fernandez, currently Director of News and Information at UTB
• Dr. Maggie Hinojosa, currently Senior Associate Vice President for Enrollment Services at UTPA
• Dr. Julio Leon, Special Advisor for UT System’s Office of Academic Affairs
• Ben Reyna, currently Assistant Provost for Governmental Relations at UTB
• Dr. Havidan Rodriguez, currently Vice President for Academic Affairs at UTPA
• Dr. Sadiq Shah, currently Vice Provost for Research and Sponsored Projects at UTPA
Bailey said more members could be added to the transition team at a later time.
UT Board of Regents Vice Chairman Gene Powell made the motion to appoint Bailey inaugural president of UTRGV. Powell serves as the board’s special liaison to South Texas.
“Dr. Bailey is exactly the kind of leader we need for this ambitious undertaking,” Powell said. “It is amazing to think that this began as an idea the Board of Regents approved less than 18 months ago. The work done by UT System leaders and the wonderful faculty, staff and administrators on the campuses in Brownsville, Edinburg and Harlingen already is remarkable. I am confident that, with Dr. Bailey’s leadership, we will continue to make great strides in building, in Dr. Bailey’s words, the nation’s first major public university of the 21st century.”
Dr. Pedro Reyes, UT System’s executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, is a native of Alamo, Texas. He said being part of the project to create a new university in South Texas is the most challenging thing he has done in his career. “With this team in place and the assistance and support of the entire faculty and staff at UTB and UTPA, I am certain we will be ready and enthusiastic to welcome UTRGV students in fall 2015.”
Meanwhile, details have emerged from another of the 15 proposals submitted to the UT System to land the administration offices. MVP Partnership, L.T.D. of McAllen is donating up to five acres of prime real estate southwest Edinburg. The land, valued at more than $2 million, is on the intersection of Trenton Road and McColl Road in Edinburg, immediately north of Doctors Hospital at Renaissance.
Speaking on behalf of MVP Partnership, attorney José E. García said the land being offered as a donation is within easy access to all major hospitals in Edinburg, including Edinburg Regional Medical Center and Edinburg Children’s Hospital, the University of Texas-Pan American, and the planned UTRGV Medical School. He said the proposal would benefit the UT System, UTRGV and the McAllen-Edinburg-Pharr-Mission Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) by placing the key headquarters in the heart of one of the Valley’s most influential, safest, and attractive regions.
“The cities of Edinburg and McAllen have each submitted their own plans, and our proposal gives the UT System leadership another outstanding reason to build the UT-RGV administrative headquarters in our region,” García said.
García is a UT-Austin alumnus, former Hidalgo County Democratic Party chairman, and senior partner of García and Villarreal, P.L.L.C., Attorneys at Law.
“The offer by MVP Partnership, L.T.D. is our way of supporting Edinburg, McAllen, Pharr, Mission and other Hidalgo County communities, and the UT System, who have given so much to us,” he said.
García said the gift of land by MVP Partnership is a private donation. He said it would allow Edinburg and McAllen to spend and invest their tax revenues on other important projects.
“I know McAllen has a great interest in building a permanent campus, focusing on Master’s and Ph.D programs, in their community, and Edinburg will continue to be a vital partner in the development of the UT-RGV campus and UT-RGV medical school in their city,” García said. “Our proposal allows both cities to save their valuable resources for those, and other, incredibly important goals.”
García added the site being offered by MVP Partnership, L.T.D. is situated “in the heart of the 78504 zip code, which contains the highest per capita income level in the Rio Grande Valley.”
Among the bullet points in the 28-page proposal sent by MVP Partnership to the UT System are:
• The gift to the UT System by MVP Partnership, L.T.D. is from a private, independent entity. It would not be tied to any specific group, business or municipality;
• MVP Partnership L.T.D.’s proposed site is an independent site so the community can recognize it as the headquarters for UT-RGV and the entire region;
• Independence is important. The public perception is important. Safety is important;
• Tax dollars are not being used to pay for the property being gifted to the UT System;
• The MVP Partnership L.T.D. property is prominently located in and near established commercial districts, and the majority of the area’s premier neighborhoods are immediately adjoining the MVP Partnership L.T.D. property;
• The City of McAllen will receive the highest benefit because of the proximity of the site to well-established commercial districts and North McAllen neighborhoods;
• This gift will promote and enhance continued economic growth and development for the cities of McAllen and Edinburg;
• MVP Partnership, L.T.D’s proposed land donation is located in the heart of the McAllen-Edinburg-Pharr-Mission MSA, which is a hub of economic activity. Many retailers have seized upon this activity, and the MSA has seen marked growth in recent years. The MSA is poised at a critical juncture for future growth and would benefit enormously from the economic partnerships fostered by UT-RGV and the medical school;
• The property is literally at the crossroads of McAllen and Edinburg, perfectly positioned on the northeastern boundary of McAllen and southwestern boundary of Edinburg. The majority of the surrounding housing rooftops are of the premier North McAllen neighborhoods;
• Any proposed project will enjoy the significant strength and purchasing power of North McAllen and also benefit from the beautiful North McAllen neighborhoods, jogging trails, and the luxurious Lake James subdivision in Edinburg; and
• By virtue of its location, MVP Partnership L.T.D.’s property fosters access to, and partnerships with, the booming medical corridor in Edinburg, including Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance, the Women’s Hospital at Renaissance, Cancer Center at Renaissance, Heart and Vascular Hospital, Renaissance Behavioral Hospital, Edinburg Regional Medical Regional Center, Edinburg Children’s Hospital, Cornerstone Regional Hospital, Edinburg Regional Rehab Center, and South Texas Behavioral Health Center.