McALLEN, RGV – At a recent McAllen Chamber of Commerce event, Dr. Guy Bailey spoke about the importance of making UT-Rio Grande Valley a major research institution.

“The research we will be doing will have a major impact. Right now I am trying to find space for a very large research team who will focus on diabetes and obesity. Is that not important for this area? Sure it is,” Bailey said.

“This is a research team that any university in the United States would love to have. They will bring with them about $12 million in federal funding, in external funding. They will have an impact on health. They will also have an impact on economic development in the Valley.”

The McAllen Chamber held a meet and greet for Bailey at the McAllen Convention Center.

Bailey said he has told UT-RGV Medical School President Francisco Fernandez that if UT-RGV hires one research team a year similar to the size of the one researching diabetes and obesity, he will be satisfied.

“If you think about that, if you hire this team their research already exceeds the research of UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville combined. You do that every year for four or five years and we are not playing second fiddle to anybody. Our research exceeds what is going on in San Antonio, what is going on in El Paso, what is going on in Arlington. This is really the opportunity of a lifetime,” Bailey said.

Bailey has worked at both Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. He said Emory could be located anywhere and it would not much matter. He said it did not have much impact on Atlanta and Atlanta did not have much impact on it. Texas Tech, on the other hand, means everything to Lubbock and West Texas, Bailey said. He said he wants UTRGV to be more like Texas Tech. “It is enormous, it makes a difference. It’s West Texas’ university. That is what we want to be. It is not only successful but significant. We want to be significant for the community. We want to be the best partner you have had. We want you to see us as your university.”

Bailey recalled that used to visit the Valley when he was president of Texas Tech to try to recruit students from the Valley. He remembers being based at the Embassy Suites in McAllen for this venture. He said he knew the region was a “goldmine” for “terrific” students. He joked that everything he said back then about students needing to leave the Valley and get their education at Texas Tech was untrue. Now, he said, his mission is to keep Valley students in this region.

University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley President Guy Bailey. (File photo: RGG/Steve Taylor)
University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley President Guy Bailey. (File photo: RGG/Steve Taylor)

“We want to keep our best students, all of our students here. The new university is going to offer a lot of new opportunities. I am going to ask the Board of Regents to approve an Honors College. We will try to have the same kind of educational opportunities that you would have in any fine liberal arts school and any flagship school in the United States,” Bailey said.

“We think we can offer that quality. We think students deserve that. We think they will respond in great fashion. We are going to have a graduate college. We will need new faculty. That will help significantly with economic development. And, there will be a lot of opportunities for staff as well. I think you will be very pleased with what happens over time.”