MCALLEN, RGV – UT-Rio Grande Valley President Guy Bailey says he is “deeply honored” to have been chosen as 2019 Border Texan of the Year. 

Bailey said the award is really a reflection of the great work being done by his university  and the wider community that supports the institution.

Dr. Guy Bailey

“I am very humbled because I know this award has gone to people how have had such an impact on the Valley. I am very honored to be mentioned with these people,” Bailey told the Rio Grande Guardian at a news conference held Wednesday at the McAllen Convention Center.

“This is really an award for the university. If you think about it, it is not me personally it is what we as a university have done to become the Valley’s institution. So, I really accept this award on behalf of the university and the entire community.”

The Border Texan of the Year is chosen by the Border Texan of the Year Committee, which comprises Valley business and community leaders. The group holds an annual banquet towards the end of the year to recognize individuals in the Valley who “advocate for the improvement of issues important to the area, including education, funding, transportation, business, security, and health issues, and who highlight and help pave the way for opportunities for the region.”

President Bailey will be honored at a dinner and reception to be held on November 21, at the McAllen Convention Center. Table sponsorships are $1,250 or individual tickets are $200 each and can be purchased from Border Texan of the Year committee members.  

The annual banquet raises funds which are awarded to area non-profit organizations of the honoree’s chosen charitable organization or cause. The 2018 Border Texan of the Year, Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp, was present at the news conference. In addition to announcing Bailey as this year’s Border Texan of the Year, Sharp said he had raised $30,000 and that some of the funds would help pay for scholarships for students attending A&M’s Higher Education Center in McAllen.

Bailey told the Rio Grande Guardian that the funds he raises will go to scholarships for UTRGV students.

“We will look at where our greatest needs are for scholarships and we will make sure students get scholarships, absolutely,” Bailey said.

Asked how much he hopes to raise, Bailey said: “They raised $30,000 last year so I would like to do a little better. We always want to be a little better than last year.”

In a City of McAllen news release, Chancellor Sharp said: “I couldn’t be happier to give something back to the region that has given me so much. I’m particularly glad to honor Glen Roney, a true legend of South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley,” Chancellor Sharp said. “Also, congratulations to President Guy Bailey on the award. I appreciate his dedication to the community and to higher education.”

Roney, a prominent local banker, was a founder member of the Border Texan of the Year Committee. He died earlier this year. A scholarship fund in Roney’s name was created at South Texas College and some of the funding Sharp raised will go towards this endearvor.

In the City of McAllen news release, Bailey said: “I am deeply honored and humbled to have been selected as 2019 Border Texan of the Year. This is easily the highest honor I have ever received, and I am particularly pleased because it comes from my colleagues in the Rio Grande Valley, my adopted home and a place I dearly love.”

Bailey added: “I also acknowledge, though, that this is really a recognition of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and its efforts to become the Rio Grande Valley’s university. In four short years, UTRGV has worked hard to establish a footprint across the Rio Grande Valley, to deliver a high-quality education at a low cost, and to create new educational opportunities for students. I want to thank all of our faculty, staff, and students and our partners across the Rio Grande Valley for making this happen. We have accomplished much, but we have much to do. I look forward to working with everyone as we continue to grow as the Rio Grande Valley’s university.”

Franz’s Perspective

John David Franz is pictured at the 2019 Border Texan of Year news conference. (Photo: Ron Whitlock/Ron Whitlock Reports)

Attorney and former Hidalgo mayor John David Franz is chairman of the Border Texan of the Year Committee. Franz said: 

“Chancellor Sharp had a profound influence on Texas A&M’s decision to locate a first-class educational center as part of the Texas A&M System in the Rio Grande Valley and for that we are thankful. His decision to donate the proceeds of his dinner to benefit students at both Texas A&M McAllen and South Texas College reaffirms his commitment to helping our region. 

“The Border Texan of the Year Committee greatly appreciates his decision to honor the late Glen Roney, a founding member of the Border Texan of the Year dinner, by contributing to a Glen Roney Memorial Fund for scholarships at South Texas College. We appreciate Chancellor Sharp’s great work for the Texas A&M System.

“Additionally, I can’t think of a more deserving individual to be the 2019 Border Texan of the year than UTRGV President Dr. Guy Bailey, who has transformed the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley into a first-class institution.   

“The opportunity for Rio Grande Valley students to access quality higher education at a very reasonable cost is resulting in more and more college degrees being earned. We all know that when it comes to our youth, higher education at UTRGV is a goal worth pursuing and a degree from UTRGV will pay tremendous dividends.”

Since its inception, Border Texan of the Year has awarded over $1 million in funds to Rio Grande Valley organizations. Previous Border Texan of the Year Honorees include Gov. George W. Bush, Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock, U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, state Sens. Eddie Lucio and Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, businessman Charles C. Butt, federal Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa and car dealership owners and philanthropists Bob and Janet Vackar.

Notes on Bailey and UTRV

The Border Texan of the Year Committee issued this statement about President Bailey and UTRGV:

“When the University of Texas System officials finalized their plan for the creation of a new university and school of medicine in the Rio Grande Valley, they knew that finding an experienced leader to oversee this historic undertaking was critical.

“Guy Bailey, a proven leader in higher education with extensive experience at the helm of large research institutions, was named the first President of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in May 2014. Under Bailey’s leadership, UTRGV has experienced extensive success, which he credits to the hard work and commitment of UTRGV students, faculty, staff and the Valley community.

“UTRGV currently ranked first among all Texas Universities for awarding the most undergraduate and graduate degrees to Hispanics and is rated as one of the top public universities for value. 

“A school of medicine has been successfully launched with 155 medical students, 168 residents and several hundred scientists and faculty.  

“In just four years, UTRGV has added 17 new academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate level staying true to Dr. Bailey’s mission of expanding educational opportunity in the Rio Grande Valley.

“Dr. Bailey’s goal is “to provide the best value in Texas higher education.” He defines value as “providing our students with a high-quality education at a low cost that leads to graduation and future positive outcomes.”

“The Border Texan of the Year Committee is honored to present Dr. Guy Bailey as the 2019 Border Texan of the Year.”