EDINBURG, RGV – University of Texas System Chancellor William H. McRaven says a $15 million donation to UT-Rio Grande Valley by businessman Robert C. Vackar will be transformational for the region.
“A gift of this magnitude to this institution is transformational,” McRaven said, at a news conference on the UTRGV Edinburg campus. “It is not just about the kids today. This will be generational. A 100 years from now, people will be looking back at this gift and how it transformed this university and how it transformed the Valley.”
At a ceremony to unveil the donation, UTRGV President Guy Bailey announced the university was renaming its College of Business & Entrepreneurship in honor of Vackar, who owns the Bert Ogden Auto Group.
Vackar’s donation is the largest single donation in the history of higher education in the Rio Grande Valley. The money will go to UTRGV’s College of Business & Entrepreneurship, school officials announced.
“These come along very rarely. That is why they are transformative,” Bailey said, at the news conference. “This doesn’t happen every day. The impact lasts every day. When you have a college of business named, suddenly you graduate at a different level, you are perceived in a different way. Not only will it help our students, but the prestige of the school will help them too. This will help them in ways we have not yet even imagined. It is just a tremendous day. We are so honored to call the Vackars our friends.”
The $15 million donation is the second large investment made to UTRGV by Vackar and his family this year. In January, Vackar and his wife Janet announced they were donating $2 million to endowed scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students. The endowment consisted 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 would go to the planned Susan Lewis Vackar Clark endowed memorial scholarship, the family announced.
Asked for her view on the donation, Janet Vackar said: “I am really honored and proud to be here. It is something Bob has been thinking about for years. I am so happy to see him follow through with it. I am enjoying every minute of it.”
Robert Vackar said he wanted to give back to a community that has given so much to his family.
“We have been so fortunate to live in the Valley. The people of the Rio Grande Valley have been so good to us. We have made so many friends here. We said, how can we give back? We just want everyone in the Valley, the people in Edinburg, to know we grew up here, to know how much we love them,” Vackar said.
Vackar said he had been contemplating making the donation for some years. He said he agreed with McRaven that the donation would change lives.
“When we looked at it we thought we would do it five or ten years from now. But we jumped in,” Vackar said. “There is an article in The Monitor today that this is the No. 1 area in the United States for college readiness. These students that are graduating from the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley are in the perfect position. The more people we put in that stream, the more people that graduate, the better off they will be and the better off their families will be. That is just this generation. How about the next generation and their children and grandchildren? You will see doctors. You will see lawyers. It will just grow and grow.”