Van Burkleo family donates $1 million for UTRGV scholarships

A longtime Valley family has donated $1 million to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to establish the Dorinda and James Van Burkleo Endowed Scholarship fund.

Siblings Terry Van Burkleo, Dee Ann V. Payne, and Pat Van Burkleo, niece Brittany V. Flory, and nephew Brandon Van Burkleo, created the endowment earlier this year to support students in the UTRGV Clinical Teaching Program.

The family established the endowment in memory of Dorinda, who taught in public schools for almost 40 years, and Jimmy, who understood the significance of supporting higher education in the Rio Grande Valley.

Jimmy and Dorinda Van Burkleo were longtime residents of the Valley.

“My parents appreciated that there was a university in the Rio Grande Valley where they could send their children,” said Dee Ann Payne. The three Van Burkleo sons began their college experience at UTRGV legacy institution Pan American University. It was cemented for them then, Dee Ann added, about the importance of having higher education opportunities close to home.

“The Valley was really great to my parents,” stated Pat Van Burkleo. “They met here, raised babies here and built successful careers here. My mother loved teaching, and my father built a successful business, and it is because of the opportunities the RGV afforded them that we wanted to build on my parents’ achievements in South Texas in their honor.”

James Van Burkleo owned and operated a car dealership that carried his name for 34 years and Dorinda Ward Van Burkleo was an educator for 35 years.

“My mother’s students loved her,” said Dee Ann. “Those young teachers that came back became lifelong friends of hers; she became a mentor to them. It is for that reason that we like the student clinical teaching aspect of the program at UTRGV.”

The UTRGV clinical teaching program places students in the classroom setting, preparing them for their roles as professional educators.