History museum chooses new CEO

Francisco Guajardo

Francisco Guajardo was named the new CEO of the Museum of South Texas History in an announcement made by the museum’s board of trustees Thursday.

An Edinburg resident, Guajardo is the former executive director of the B3 Institute at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

“The museum has been blessed with excellent executive leadership over the years, and we are very pleased to welcome Francisco to the museum,” board Chairman Juancarlo Rendon wrote in a statement released Thursday. “He brings unique skills and talents that will help take the museum to the next level.”

The new CEO assumed his role at the museum on Sept. 3, according to the statement.

He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s in history and a doctorate in educational administration.

Guajardo also taught high school and developed innovative curricular programs at Edcouch-Elsa ISD between 1990 and 2002. Afterward he became a full-time professor and the C. Bascom Slemp Endowed Chair in Education at the university.

He was a founding executive director at the B3 Institute, a university-wide office tasked with transforming UTRGV into a bilingual, bicultural and biliterate institution. Guajardo has managed three multimillion-dollar federal grants and authored or co-authored more than 50 academic articles and three books, the release stated.

Guajardo succeeds Shan Rankin, who led the museum as executive director for more than 30 years. During her tenure, the museum became accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and grew from a small county museum into a widely respected regional history museum, the announcement read.

“These achievements were accomplished because of close board and staff collaboration, and community support for these efforts,” Rankin wrote in the release. “Local governments, along with state and national foundations, supported the mission, and the result is that museum visitors consistently say that MOSTHistory is one of the best museums they have seen.”

The statement commended Rankin’s service at the museum over the past three decades.

“Shan grew this museum exponentially with the support of the Board of Trustees, Heritage Associates, FRIENDS of MOSTHistory and community and local government leaders,” Rendon wrote. “On behalf of the museum board, I would like to thank Shan for all that she’s accomplished to advance the museum’s mission to preserve and present the borderland heritage of South Texas and northeastern Mexico. We hope her involvement with MOSTHistory continues.”

Rankin wrote fondly about her time at the museum and her hopes for its future in the announcement.

“It has been a joy to lead the museum these many years,” Rankin said. “To come to work every day to do something good for our community and the generations to come, to generate pride in who we are as South Texans has been fulfilling and rewarding. I am deeply grateful to have worked alongside many exceptionally talented people and to have had the good fortune to make many friends along the way. I wish Francisco every success as he takes the reins of this wonderful institution and am pleased to be able to work with him to accomplish a smooth transition.”

An Evening with FRIENDS to welcome Guajardo and celebrate Rankin’s legacy will be held at the museum on Sept. 26.