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We applaud Robert C. and Janet Vackar for their most recent contribution to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. It’s the latest in a history of support for Valley education that sets a high example for others to follow.
The university and the Vackars, who manage the Bert Ogden Auto Group Valleywide, on June 28 announced a $1 million donation to the Janet Ogden Vackar Spirit of Philanthropy Endowed Scholarship to provide scholarships for mass communication students. Janet Vackar studied mass communications at UTRGV’s predecessor institution, UT-Pan American.
The gift doubles the program’s scholarships from 40 to 80.
“You’re doubling the number of students … who can go to school, who can graduate with minimal debt,” University President Guy Bailey said to the Vackars during the presentation ceremony. “It’s a tremendous gift, not just to UTRGV but to our students and to the entire Rio Grande Valley.”
With the latest donation, the Vackars have given upwards of $20 million to the university, funding that has helped it grow and provide more educational opportunities for students in the Valley, and beyond.
UTRGV has shown its gratitude for the support, including a $15 million donation made in 2016, by naming its business college the Robert C. Vackar College of Business & Entrepreneurship.
The family’s support has not ebbed since the nominal tribute, suggesting they will continue to support higher education in the Valley, and in turn help improve the local economy and the lives of many more local residents.
Economists and other analysts have long noted that while not all careers require university degrees, education creates more opportunities for residents and on average lead to higher lifetime earnings.
Congress and various presidential administrations have responded with heavy funding to universities, financial aid programs and, more recently, student loan bailouts. Those allocations, however, compete with other demands for taxpayers’ money; private funding remains the greatest source of support for most institutions.
The Valley is fortunate to have many community leaders who use their personal success to help their neighbors work toward success of their own, such as the Yturria family in CameronCounty and, more recently, Elon Musk, as well as many others. Their investment in Valley education and other benevolences help improve the lives not only of those who benefit directly from scholarships and educational programs funded with the donations. The entire region ultimately benefits from the contributions made by the recipients of such support.
The Vackars and others are making significant investments in the future of the Rio Grande Valley, and setting an example of community involvement that we hope other successful residents will be inspired to follow.
To be sure, few can offer the level of support that the Vackars have shown over the years, but the spirit of altruism is not measured by dollar amounts. It is the selfless act of helping one’s neighbors — whether through monetary contributions or volunteering time at community facilities — that builds a spirit of community and helps improve the lives of everyone.