EDINBURG, RGV – The business community is noticeably stepping up its efforts to support the start of the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, according to UTRGV president Dr. Guy Bailey.
Only four and a half months since UTRGV opened its doors, a generous donation by Bert Ogden Auto Group to the university sets a new standard for philanthropy, Bailey said.
Speaking to the Rio Grande Guardian after the event, Bailey said the endowment also sets the tone for significant milestones in the future, the medical school in particular, which is slated to open in July.
“This will be a year of firsts, and this is one of the big firsts,” Bailey said. “This will set the pattern for many community leaders and businesses from the Valley and outside the Valley who will step up.”
At a press conference on Tuesday morning, Bob and Janet Vackar, owners of Bert Ogden Auto Group announced that they have donated $2 million to endowed scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students. University officials say the endowment is the largest gift so far in the school’s brief history.
The endowment consists of $1 million to the university’s College of Business and Entrepreneurship and $1 million towards Mass Communication in the College of Liberal Arts. An additional $80,000 is also planned to the Susan Lewis Vackar Clark endowed memorial scholarship.
In attendance at the event was UT System regent Ernie Aliseda along with various members of the academic and business community.
“I think it’s incredible what the Vackar family and Bert Ogden is doing with the Valley and the university,” Aliseda said. “It will certainly have a positive impact on the students here at UTRGV. It will be a permanent legacy on their part, and a great benefit for the entire Valley.”
The late Bert Ogden, established his first dealership in Edinburg in 1970. He and his wife, Dorothy, passed away several years later, but his daughter, Janet, and son-in-law, Robert Vacker, continued with the family business, which has evolved into one of the most successful vehicle dealerships in the nation.
In addition to being one of the largest privately-owned dealer groups in the United States, with 22 complexes Valley-wide, including seven dealerships in Edinburg, the family business employs more than 1,000 people in deep South Texas.
“A lot of the reason for doing this, and what has driven us to do this is not just the growth we have had. It’s from the students we have hired from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley,” Bob Vackar said. “What is remarkable is when we move students into different positions they have done remarkably well. I’m so proud of each and every one of them. That’s the reason we have had growth.”
“With UTRGV here, I think it’s unlimited,” he said. “I think with the people we’re hiring out of here, it will keep on growing.”