UTRGV receives $38,000,000 gift from Legacy Foundation

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley was given what the school calls a transformative and remarkable gift.

During a news conference at the UTRGV School of Medicine in Harlingen, the Legacy Foundation announced it awarded the universtiy $38,000,000 for health care education.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey said what the money will do for the university is remarkable.

“This gift will change everything about what we do. The benefits of this gift you will see for a long time, as you see the university grow and develop,” Bailey said

University of Texas System Regent and Harlingen physician Dr. Nolan Perez, said it is gifts like these that will help catapult the university to another level.

“As a physician here I’m really excited that we can finally put a dent to health care access in this region, the quality of health care. But also if you think about it is really allowing our young kids the opportunity to get educated here and to stay here,” Dr. Perez said. “And finally God willing, we can end the brain drain that’s afflicted this region for far too long.”

University of Texas System Chancellor James Milliken thanked the Legacy Foundation for its extraordinary generosity.

“You’re the best partner UTRGV could have as it works to fill the goals all of share for the Valley.”

Milliken said sometimes it is difficult to attract those students who went to medical school and then set up their practices elsewhere.

“The best way we have seen across this country, and we will see it here, is to grow our own. It is to keep the most talented young people from the Valley here.”

Dr. John Krouse, the dean of the medical school, said the generous gift will change forever the landscape of medical education and health care in the Valley. Many of the funds will be used Brownsville campus.

“It will increase the range of research activity centered in Brownsville and conducted through our South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute,” Krouse said.

He said the money will also be used for the following:

  • Expand research into childhood genetics
  • Genomic bioimaging
  • Establish a master’s degree in genetics counseling
  • Establish a residency program in general surgery at VBMC
  • Train four general surgeons yearly in Cameron County
  • Establish a PhD program in biomedical sciences at the Brownsville campus
  • Expand surgical care in Cameron County through VBMC
  • Allow additional hiring of surgeons

Judy Quisenberry, the executive director of the Legacy Foundation, called the gift historic for both institutions.

“Its historic for our foundation because it is the largest gift we’ve given to date … it’s $38,000,000,” Quisenberry said. “UTRGV is the largest recipient of our grant funds to date … and this check will bring our total grants to UTRGV to just shy of $62 million.”

dmaldonado@valleystar.com