Robert C. and Janet Vackar make another generous donation to UTRGV

MCALLEN, Texas – Robert C. and Janet Vackar have gifted $1 million to the UTRGV College of Liberal Arts to support undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a degree in mass communication.

The gift, which was presented to UTRGV on Wednesday in McAllen, is an addition to the existing Janet Ogden Vackar Spirit of Philanthropy Endowed Scholarship, established in 2016.  

Janet’s father started the Bert Ogden Auto Group.

“I don’t really do anything that doesn’t have substance or reason. And we wouldn’t be where we are today if the university, Pan Am, had not helped my father start his business on University Drive,” said Janet Vackar.

“It was in the ‘70s and the professors and the students would buy from him. So he was able to save enough money to build a new dealership. He practically built it himself on 281.”

Janet Vackar said the mass communications department means a lot to her. She said her husband lost his sister, Susan, to breast cancer, and soon afterwards she lost her parents.

“During the grieving process, I took a communications class at Pan American with Dr. Jack Jack Stanley. I got the only ‘A’,” Janet Vackar said.

“He (Stanley) got me on my feet because I was very devastated. And we rode around a lot. He helped me with commercials and I did a review with him and he was just so wonderful with me and I had a great time, to be in his presence. And he was so exciting with the kids. And so that communications department was really important to me.”

Robert Vackar said Susan was one of the first in his family to go to college. “She did very well at Pan American. I think she was Pan Am Bronco Queen,” he said. His wife confirmed this. “She (Susan) was just a really sweet, sweet lady,” Robert Vackar said of his sister.

A news release issued by UTRGV said Janet Vackar has a passion t help mass communication students reach their educational goals.  

“The Rio Grande Valley offers so much opportunity,” Janet Vackar said. “I want to give local students who are passionate about the communication field the ability to receive a comprehensive and engaging education, which will open limitless doors to them in the future.” 

In 2016, UTRGV named the Robert C. Vackar College of Business & Entrepreneurship in honor of the couple’s historic endowment to the university.  

The UTRGV news release said Department of Communication offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs that address the essential dimensions of communication, including mass media, public relations, print and broadcast journalism, advertising and organizational communication.  

Dr. Walter Diaz, UTRGV College of Liberal Arts dean, said the new endowment provides an enduring source of scholarship funding, providing more opportunities for students to pursue a degree in mass communication.  

“The UTRGV Department of Communication is shaping tech-savvy, creative, and informed professionals who will improve our community,” Diaz said.

“I want our students to believe in themselves and continue chasing their dreams. The Janet Ogden Vackar Spirit of Philanthropy Endowed Scholarship gives them the support and encouragement they need,” Diaz said.

Dr. Kelly Nassour, UTRGV executive vice president for Institutional Advancement, said the gift will encourage creativity and innovation among the university’s students.

“The Vackars’ generous gift will support our program as it prepares students to pursue innovative solutions to communication and public relations issues of the future,” Nassour said.

“The Vackar Family are true champions for higher education in Rio Grande Valley, and their investments in UTRGV will have a lasting impact on the region.”

UTRGV President Guy Bailey said everyone knows how generous the Vackars have been and how important they are to the community.

“What would we be if they weren’t in our community? Think about it,” Bailey said.

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