HARLINGEN, Texas – UT-Rio Grande Valley is to make a major investment at Quinta Mazatlán, the Spanish-revival estate with sprawling tropical gardens in McAllen that features over 250 species of birds.

Guy Bailey, president of UTRGV, spoke about the investment during an exclusive interview with the Rio Grande Guardian in Harlingen on Tuesday.

“We are heavily involved with Quinta Mazatlán and we should have some announcements on that pretty soon,” Bailey said. “We are making a major investment there, we will be a major Quinta partner. That will be a wonderful urban ecology lab.”

According to the Explore RGV website, Quinta Mazatlán is “an urban sanctuary working to enrich people’s lives by sharing knowledge about birds, plants, and environmental stewardship in South Texas.”

The website says Quinta Mazatlán and its World Birding Center partners “promote birding and conservation of Valley habitat, especially as it benefits numerous avian residents and neo-tropical migrants.”

Bailey made his remarks in response to a question about UTRGV being a distributive university, with campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Valley. In fact, it has facilities at South Padre Island, Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville, Port Isabel, Harlingen, Weslaco, McAllen, Edinburg and Rio Grande City.

“Our work is Valley-wide,” Bailey said. “We have things in Brownsville, as you know, the Diabetes & Obesity Institute, we are about to build new buildings associated with that. We have a hotel and restaurant management program that will be housed in part there and in part at DHR in Edinburg. And we will be building a facility there as well. Just right across the Valley things are really bubbling up and going strong.”

The Rio Grande Guardian sought an interview with Bailey to get his reaction to comments made about him at the Harlingen event by UT System Regent Nolan Perez. The Harlingen physician said his fellow regents were backing Bailey’s ideas because they trusted his leadership.

“I would like to start by giving Dr. Bailey a shoutout because, he talked about the difficulty and challenge of getting approval to get PUF (Permanent University Fund) money down here. None of that happens without the trust in leadership,” Nolan said.

“There is so much trust right now in UTRGV and what is happening right now because of your leadership. When I go to the meetings up there you get to see when your name is mentioned as an example of how a president should be.”

Bailey said the plaudits should go to everyone at UTRGV, not himself. “I am very proud but it is the whole team that provides this trust.”

UTRGV came about through the dissolution of UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville, Perez said the development of UTRGV has not been easy.

“Not only was there a dissolution or ending of two universities, it was establishing a new one and the creation, simultaneously, of a medical school in a distributive campus model. Not an easy start up in higher ed,” Perez said.

“And so for him (Bailey) to do that so remarkably well and even jumping through the hoops of the Friday Night lights mentality, as we sometimes have down here… UTRGV has done so much to get a lot of us thinking regionally, and collaborating, being innovative and being inclusive.”

Indeed, Perez argued that the merger of the Valley’s three metropolitan planning organizations into one owes a lot to Bailey and UTRGV. “It is because of your vision, I think, that really propelled the MPOs to merge,” Perez said.

The Harlingen event featured a news conference held by UTRGV, the City of Harlingen and Harlingen CISD to announce latest developments on the proposed UTRGV-HCISD early college high school.