RIO GRANDE CITY, RGV – Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed Rio Grande City physician Antonio ‘Tony’ Falcon to the new University Research Initiative Advisory Board.
Falcon was one of the nine appointees to the new entity. Another was businessman Sam Susser of Corpus Christi. Susser was named Border Texan of the Year by the Border Texan of the Year committee in Hidalgo in 2013.
The University Research Initiative Advisory Board is a replacement for the old Emerging Technology Fund. The aim of the board is to help public institutions of higher education recruit prestigious, nationally-recognized researchers to their faculty. It will utilize a portion of the ETF’s unexpended balance to provide matching funds for this purpose.
Abbott made higher education research initiatives one of his five emergency items for this year’s 84th Legislature. He said he wanted to attract Nobel laureates and other world-renowned researchers to Texas universities “We want to elevate the higher education colleges and universities in the state of Texas to be ranked No. 1 in the United States of America. We are on a pathway toward that lofty goal,” Abbott said.
Falcon is medical director of Family Health Center, L.L.P. He is a member of the American Medical Association, Texas Medical Association, American Academy of Family Practice, Texas Academy of Family Practice, Texas Medical Foundation, Hidalgo-Starr County Medical Society, and the Health and Human Services Council. Additionally, he is a former member of the Parks and Wildlife Commission, United States-Mexico Border Health Commission, and the Nursing Facility Administrators Advisory Committee. Falcon received a Bachelor of Science from Baylor University and a Doctor of Medicine from Baylor College of Medicine.
Susser is president of Susser Holdings II, L.P. and previously served as chairman of Sunoco, L.P. and Stripes, L.L.C. He is a member of the Texas Business Hall of Fame, World Presidents’ Organization, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi College of Business Advisory Council, University of Texas McCombs School of Business Advisory Board, UT Schusterman Center for Judaic Studies Advisory Board, and the UT Marine Science Institute at Port Aransas Advisory Board. Additionally, he is co-chair of the UT Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for the Study for Energy, Law and Business, a trustee of The Texas State Aquarium, and a trustee and chairman of the Driscoll Foundation. Susser received a Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of Texas.
The Governor’s University Research Initiative Advisory Board was specifically established to assist the office with the review and evaluation of applications for funding of grant proposals. The advisory board shall make recommendations to the office for approval or disapproval of those applications.
In addition to Falcon and Susser, the other appointees to the University Research Initiative Advisory Board are Jacquie Baly, Cindy Conroy, John Goodman, Wendy Gramm, James Huffines, J. Michael Lewis, and Michael Plank. Here are details on the other seven appointees:
Jacquie Baly of Sugar Land is president and chief executive officer for BalyProjects, a former member of the Sugar Land City Council, and former adjunct professor at the University of Houston. She is the Public Policy Director for the National Association of Women Business Owners Board and PAC Board member of the Houston Contractors Association. Previously, she served as a national delegate for the Women in Commercial Real Estate, and is a member of the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Transportation Policy Council and the Greater Houston Partnership’s Transportation Infrastructure Advisory Committee. She is also past president of both the Fort Bend Professional Women’s Group and the River Oaks Women’s Breakfast Club. Her awards include University of Houston’s Alumni Association’s “Rising Star Award,” Texas Executive Women’s “Woman on the Move” and KTRK-13 “Woman of Distinction.” Baly received a Bachelor of Science in political science from the University of Houston and a master’s degree in city planning from Texas Southern University.
Cindy Conroy of El Paso is first executive assistant and charitable giving coordinator at WestStar Bank. Previously, she was an executive associate in the office of the associate dean of research and the director of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. She also has 12 years of academic administration and grant management experience with The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). She serves on the board of directors of El Paso Drive-a-Meal and the Pioneer Association of El Paso. She is the past board chair of Girls Scouts of the Desert Southwest, past president of El Paso Executive Forum, and has served on the board of Leadership Women. Conroy received a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from UTEP.
John Goodman of Frisco is founder and executive chairman of Family ER + Urgent Care Centers, and is a board member, co-founder, former executive chairman, and former chief executive officer of Goodman Networks. Previously, he held leadership positions at Bell Atlantic, GTE, and Verizon. He is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors, board member of the Way of Grace Community Church, and former chairman of Friends of Scouting Circle Ten Boy Scouts. Additionally, he serves as a volunteer for Foodstep Uganda and Serving His Children Uganda, and he is a volunteer youth basketball coach for YMCA. Goodman received a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas Tech University.
Wendy Gramm of Helotes is chairman of the Texas Public Policy Foundation Board of Directors. She is a former senior scholar at the George Mason University Mercatus Center, where she founded the Regulatory Studies Program. Previously, she served as the executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Regulatory Relief, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Economics, and administrator for Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget, under President Reagan’s Administration. She also served as chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission under Presidents Reagan and Bush, Sr. She is also a former member of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents and an emeritae director of the Independent Women’s Forum. Gramm received a Bachelor of Arts from Wellesley College and a Doctor of Philosophy from Northwestern University.
James Huffines of Dallas is president and chief operations officer of PlainsCapital Corporation and serves on the Hilltop Holdings, PlainsCapital Bank, and PrimeLending boards of directors. He is partner and board member of the Andrew Harper Travel Publications, Inc. and vice chairman of the Texas Business Leadership Council. He is a member of the Dallas Citizens Council Board of Directors, Dallas Regional Board of Advisors, Texas Lyceum Advisory Council, and the Texas Philosophical Society. Additionally, he serves as a member of several University of Texas committees and boards including the Chancellor’s Council Executive Committee, Development Board of Directors, Foundation Board of Directors, William P. Clements Center Board of Directors, and The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Foundation Advisory Board, Nomination Committee, and Executive Committee. Previously, he served as chairman of The University of Texas System Board of Regents. Huffines received a Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of Texas, and he also attended the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University.
J. Michael Lewis of Dallas is a private investor and the general partner of Coronado Resources, Olympia Royalty, and Wellspring Royalties. He is a member of the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Financial Executives Institute. Currently, he serves on the board of directors of the State Fair of Texas, Texas Tech Foundation, and the West Dallas Community School. Additionally, he is a member of the Texas Tech Investment Advisory Committee and the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. Lewis received a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas Tech University and a Master of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.
Michael Plank of Houston is chairman and chief executive officer of The Plank Companies, Inc. and three affiliated companies; National Property Holdings, Rail Logix and Speed Shore Corporation. He is a member of the World Presidents’ Organization, past chairman of the Young Presidents’ Organization, and past president of both the Trench Shoring & Shielding Association of America and Houston Equipment Distributors. Additionally, he is a board member and past president of the Children’s Museum of Houston and a board member of the YMCA of Greater Houston. He also serves on the President’s Leadership Council for Houston’s Methodist Hospital, and the Texas A&M University Engineering Advisory Council. Plank received a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University, and was inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Graduates in 2000.