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“I’ve Done a Lot of Things I’m Proud of, but Never Anything as Significant as What is Going to Happen Here,” – Dr. Guy Bailey, UTRGV Founding President

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Pictured on the right: Dr. Guy Hubert Bailey, Founding President of University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Picture in the background: From L-R: Veronica Gonzales Villarreal, Vice President for Governmental and Community Relations; Dr. Francisco Fernandez, Founding President for the UTRGV Medical School; Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, former UT System Chancellor; Dr. Guy Hubert Bailey, Founding President of University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; Ernie Aliseda, member of the Board of Regents, The University of Texas System and Dr. Pedro Reyes, Special Advisor to the Chancellor at UT system. Photo by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
Pictured on the right: Dr. Guy Hubert Bailey, Founding President of University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Picture in the background: From L-R: Veronica Gonzales Villarreal, Vice President for Governmental and Community Relations; Dr. Francisco Fernandez, Founding President for the UTRGV Medical School; Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, former UT System Chancellor; Dr. Guy Hubert Bailey, Founding President of University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; Ernie Aliseda, member of the Board of Regents, The University of Texas System and Dr. Pedro Reyes, Special Advisor to the Chancellor at UT system. Photo by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez.

By Dr. Gilberto de los Santos

Marketing Professor Emeritus

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley,

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Roberto Hugo Gonzalez, Publisher also contributed to this article,

Texas Border Business – 

In May of 2014, Dr. Guy Hubert Bailey was named Founding President of the new University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Texas Border Business has covered many of his different and numerous activities during a time that he was being introduced to the Rio Grande Valley community.

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Dr. Bailey proudly said, “I’ve done a lot of interesting things that I’m proud of, but I’ve never done anything as significant as what is going to happen here over the next few years.”

He also pointed out that we all have the chance to do something in higher education that will have a significant impact on the Valley, on the students here, and on the State of Texas as a whole.

Dr. Bailey said that people throughout the country are focused on what is happening here. “I was a dean at University of Nevada in Las Vegas, so you know what they say about Las Vegas, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, yeah. But if we do it right, what happens here in the Valley, won’t stay here.”

Not long ago, there were two universities, sixty miles apart, now dissolved. The assets were merged giving birth to a new university and on top added a new medical school.

“Now if you’re looking for patterns of how to do that, they’re not there.” He said, “We’re making it up as we go. So, on the one hand it’s pretty exciting, but it’s also challenging. On the other hand, there is no best practice, we’re the practice.”

Prior to being named President of UTRGV, Dr. Bailey served as President of The University of Alabama, and of Texas Tech University; Chancellor of the University of Missouri Kansas City; Provost and Executive Vice President at The University of Texas San Antonio; Dean of Liberal Arts at the University of Nevada Las Vegas; Chair of the English Department at Oklahoma State University and the University of Memphis; and as a faculty member at Texas A&M and Emory Universities.

During his leadership at Texas Tech, the university met the criteria established by the Texas State Legislature for participation in the National Research University Fund. During his tenure at Texas Tech enrollment grew by 3,905 students (14%); research expenditures grew by $89.9 million (170%); and graduation rates increased by five percentage points.

During his tenure at the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA), the university was named an emerging research university by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; 16 new doctoral programs were added; external funding for research more than doubled; enrollment grew by more than 40%; and graduate enrollment grew by almost 50%.

While Dr. Bailey was at the University of Missouri Kansas City, the university completed a $200 million capital campaign and built or gained approval for $175 million in new construction. From 2010 to 2012, Dr. Bailey served on the Board of Directors of the NCAA and on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Big XII athletic conference. He has served on the Board of Trustees of Midwest Research Institute since 2007.

Dr. Bailey grew up in Alabama where football is a favorite sport to put it mildly— naturally he played football.  He is a first generation college graduate who worked his way through college with summer and part-time jobs. His career in Linguistics was enhanced when he earned a Fellowship by The Linguistic Society of America Summer Institute to study in Hawaii.

Dr. Bailey and his wife, Jan, adopted a daughter, Jordan, and a son, Brooks.  Jordan, who has a Ph.D. in Cognitive and Behavioral Science, works for Michigan State University, and Brooks works for Advance Auto Parts.

Jan’s health deteriorated shortly after Dr. Bailey assumed his duties as President of The University of Alabama, in his home and birth state. He resigned to take care of her, but she made her transition shortly afterwards. Jan encouraged her husband to become an administrator, and supported him every step of the way—she was her husband’s inspiration.  After his wife’s death, Dr. Bailey was thinking about retiring, and discussed his plans to retire with his daughter. His son Brooks, convinced him to do otherwise, and he decided to continue his administrative mission.

Dr. Bailey discovered the “Ideal” position in higher education where his skills and expertise can make a difference! He said, “This position provides the best opportunity for higher education in the United States because the RGV Region residents are hungry for education.  It is exciting to bring new programs of education such as the medical school, a doctoral program in physical therapy, a school of pharmacy, and other bachelors, masters, and doctoral programs. Proper implementation of these programs will transform the RGV Region. Very few areas have this type of opportunities to expand education.”

Dr. Bailey explained, “Our priorities for UTRGV are student success, educational opportunity, medical education and research on the issues impacting the region. Everything we do at UTRGV is built around these four priorities with student success at the core. We want to enhance educational opportunity by creating undergraduate and graduate programs in areas of need and establish more doctoral and professional programs so our students can have the same educational opportunities as students have in other cities. We want to make a significant impact on medical education and healthcare in the Valley by conducting research on diseases such as diabetes and obesity. UTRGV is committed to the success of our students and every day we will strive to empower our students to reach their potential.”

Dr. Bailey is excited to have the opportunity to do what he is doing. He said that it is not only interesting but challenging, a combination that according to him will yield a significant impact in South Texas that will resonate around the country.

One of the projects at the top of his list from the beginning is the research on problems that affect the residents in the Rio Grande Valley. “We hired a team of researchers in diabetes and obesity- you understand the problem of diabetes in the Valley.” He said, “I grew up in Alabama, that’s the “strokeville” of the country. You know, strokes are big there.”

When he moved to the Valley he realized that diabetes is the biggest issue here. The group of scientists that were hired is comprised by twenty-two researchers, primarily geneticists, biologists who study genetics, the science of genes, heredity, and variation of organisms.

These groups of scientists are already in the Valley and working in strategic locations from Edinburg, Brownsville and Harlingen.

Dr. Bailey says, they are addressing problems that are crucial and critical in the Valley. “We think we can do that in a number of different areas.” He also pointed out that those twenty-two people brought with them $12 million in federal funding. “It’s a tremendous opportunity and I can’t tell you how honored I am to be part of this activity,” he said.

For him, this has been about sixteen months packed with activity and it does not appear to be slowing down any time soon. When Dr. Bailey arrived in July of 2014, he expected to be on the road a lot. “I had a brand new pickup truck and in about four months I logged about 14,000 miles. All of it in the Valley,” he said.

In ten years, the university is projected to have over 48,000 students. “I think that in a decade, this will be the second largest university in the University of Texas system, and part of it is simply demographics,” he said.

He spoke of the number of babies being delivered every month in Edinburg / McAllen alone, where you get more than an elementary school’s worth of babies every month. He said, “Most of the country is not growing. Most of the growth is right here and in this case size helps a lot with a university.”

Dr. Bailey expects to grow very fast in terms of the number of students, the number of programs and quality as well. He mentioned the community college partners that have been offering college credit courses in high schools. Frequently now, when students graduate from high school, they’ll graduate with thirty or sometimes even sixty college credit hours. If you graduate with thirty college credit courses, you start college as a sophomore, and you come in as a transfer student.

Dr. Bailey said that what is happening is that the quality of the education is increasing in dramatic ways. “I’ve lived in a lot of places in Texas. The public schools here are making more progress as a whole. There will be exceptions of course, but as a whole your public schools are making more progress than anywhere in the state.” He said, “It’s something that you may not see, a lot of it has to do with Community College partners.”

Dr. Bailey also praised programs like Astrophysics- the astrophysics program which started in Brownsville is one of the best in the country. He pointed out that most people don’t—but people outside the country know about that. He said, “SpaceX knew about it. They understand that they’re going to get good workforce from right there in Brownsville. And for manufacturing, and engineering right here in Edinburg, which is one of the best in the country.” He said, “They’re very good. Of course, manufacturing on both sides of the border is important. but at the undergraduate level those too, they have science programs that are quite good as well. There are a whole range of health science programs, and they’re very good and very competitive.”

He concluded by saying, “Our purpose is to be a university for the entire Valley. I am honored to work alongside our faculty and staff to lead this university.  I am excited about the tremendous challenge of getting our faculty and staff on the same page in order to accomplish the following overarching goals:”

Enhance student success by improving the quantity of graduates both numerically and by increasing the percent of graduation rates of students who begin their studies at UTRGV.

Expand higher educational opportunities, especially by adding new professional programs of study that can improve the RGV Region as well as attract higher paying professional jobs.

Impact health care in the RGV Region by increasing not only the educational opportunities, but also the health of the RGV residents especially diabetes and obesity by targeting research of relevance to these areas.

Partner with RGV businesses and other organizations to improve the economy of the RGV Region.

In conclusion, it is evident that UTRGV is the university for the RGV, and is poised to work with other organizations such as: educational institutions, cities, counties, and business organizations to expand and improve educational opportunities that can be a catalyst for social, cultural, and economic transformations. The opportunity is awesome! To accomplish their proposed Mission without a doubt will require tremendous commitment for innovation and hard work. Fortunately, Dr. Bailey and administrators have the same commitment, vision, experience, energy, and talent to work alongside UTRGV’s faculty and staff to succeed.

 

Dr. Bailey is moving rapidly towards building a team of highly gifted administrators that are on the same page with his goals.

 

Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, Provost and EVP for Academic Affairs was the Provost for UTPA, and was the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and International Programs, and Deputy Provost at the University of Delaware. He has lived in the RGV for several years.  Born in Puerto Rico, Dr. Rodriguez was raised in the continental U.S. and in Puerto Rico.

“UTPA and UTB built a strong educational and economic foundation, and UTRGV, with improved financial support, has the opportunity to accelerate this progress even more; we need to continue to do an excellent job in educating our students, many of which are first-generation college students, who primarily come from low-income families. UTRGV will have significant ramifications for the RGV, and will make a major difference on students, their families, and our RGV community.  These graduates will also contribute to the economic growth in the RGV, and they can go on to change not only the Region and the State, but the World as well! We are one University distributed throughout the Rio Grande Valley with a physical presence in South Padre Island, Brownsville, Harlingen, McAllen, Edinburg, and Rio Grande City; we are a University for the RGV, and beyond. It is important to highlight that student success is at the forefront of UTRGV,” he said.

Dr. Rodriguez agrees that UTRGV can, and will make, a huge impact economically and culturally. “In the mid-1980s, The Wall Street Journal published a story crediting UTB and UTPA for creating a middle class in the RGV, and UTRGV will continue to build on this solid foundation.  Our goal is to become an emerging research university. As such, we will need to offer at least 10 doctoral programs, which will positively impact the RGV. Another important goal for UTRGV is to expand the educational opportunities for our communities. With the School of Medicine and the research power that it brings, we have the opportunity to improve the health and welfare of our residents, and retain more of our talented graduates. About 70% to 80% of the doctoral students in medicine stay in the areas where they complete their residencies. This, by itself, will impact our community!”

 

Dr. Theresa Maldonado, Senior Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development lived in the RGV as a child and moved with her family throughout the United States; her father was in the military.

She stated: “I see our biggest opportunity for UTRGV is to view the university as a blank canvas for us to reinvent the way education, research, and economic development are accomplished, especially for the benefit of the RGV.

By consolidating UTPA and UTB, we have a new, more powerful way of integrating the School of Medicine, with Engineering, Science, Math, Education, Business, Humanities, and Liberal Arts to advance research and healthcare solutions beneficial to the RGV, the State of Texas, and the Nation.  More importantly, UTRGV will undoubtedly increase its relevance for student success.

The School of Medicine will be active throughout The RGV Community finding better ways for healthcare and promoting a healthier lifestyle.

We are already providing opportunities for faculty and students to work with external partners, such as Space-X and ALPS Electronics – opportunities that enrich the research and education experience for our students.

I am excited about the cooperation between the College of Business and Entrepreneurship and the School of Engineering and Computer Science, for example, as they plan to open throughout the RGV physical spaces where entrepreneurial faculty, students, and RGV business people can have access to centers with advisors, office equipment, and supplies to either launch or expand their businesses.  They will have opportunities to create proto-type new products for their businesses and develop business plans.”

 

Dr. Mark Kroll, Dean of the College of Business and Entrepreneurship is a product of the RGV.  He was born in Harlingen, and lived 12 years in Rio Hondo.  As a freshman he came back to the RGV to attend UTPA and UTB.

Dr. Kroll has a passion for making a difference in moving the Ph.D. program forward especially in conducting relevant research, and expanding student and regional opportunities for entrepreneurship.  As Dean, he wants to accomplish three overarching Objectives:

Develop further and strengthen the Ph.D. program in International Business.

Establish a Center for Business Innovation and Commercialization which would help businesses to develop and market new products and new businesses, and strengthen existing businesses.

Create a new Bachelor’s degree Entrepreneur Program, another in Hospitality and Tourism, and perhaps a third B.A. program currently being considered.

Dr. Kroll stated, “The International Business Ph.D. program provides a venue for highly vibrant, relevant research for faculty and students.  We have faculty members who can direct appropriate research relevant to the economic development of the RGV and Northern Mexico.”

 

Byron Jay Lewis

President/CEO
Edwards Abstract and Title Co.

“Dr. Bailey makes a strong first impression. He is sincere, focused and compassionate. His unwavering commitment to educational opportunities for South Texas comes through loud and clear. I have been impressed with how he has embraced the challenge of building UTRGV, and wisely avoiding pitfalls along the way. This type of leadership and judgment are just what is needed at this important and exciting time for education in the Rio Grande Valley. This is a person that is up to the challenge. He also makes time to engage local leaders and businesses to build coalitions and spread his vision of excellence.”

 

Keith Patridge President of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation.

“I don’t know if Dr. Bailey truly knew the Herculean task he had accepted when he became the first President of the UTRGV. But he has done an excellent job of leading his transition team in forming the new University. Fortunately for the Rio Grande Valley, Dr. Bailey and his team have set the bar high. They have established a level of expectation from the community that will take a lot of commitment to achieve. However, I am confident he and his team will prevail. The McAllen Economic Development Corporation looks forward to partnering with UTRGV, STC, and Texas A&M to provide the educational support necessary for South Texas to become one of the top advanced manufacturing regions in the world.”

 

Mayor Richard H. García

Edinburg, Texas

Edinburg Mayor Richard García said President Guy Bailey has met the highest expectations that come with being president of a major university such as the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

“President Bailey shares the vision of the name UT Rio Grande Valley, which recognizes that we are one region, that we are a people united for the greater good of everyone, and that Edinburg, by the very nature of being home to the largest campus of UTRGV, takes its responsibility and duty very seriously to remain the prominent partner in an incredible process that is resulting in a world-class university in deep South Texas,” Mayor García said.

The mayor concluded with high praise, “President Bailey’s experiences and successes as the leader of major universities of the caliber of Texas Tech and Alabama have served him very well in handling the complicated transition of UT-Pan American, UT-Brownsville, and the UT Regional Academic Health Centers in Edinburg, Harlingen and Brownsville into this magnificent new institution of higher education and medical education that has become The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley,” Mayor García noted. “Certainly, his name will go down in history, along with our legislative leaders, for helping guide UTRGV into the big leagues among American universities.”

 

Ernie Aliseda, a member of the Board of Regents, The University of Texas System, who resides in the Rio Grande Valley said, “I could not be more pleased that Dr. Bailey was selected as the first president of UT Rio Grande Valley. His extensive leadership and education background have proved to be absolutely essential throughout the process to establish UTRGV, and I’m thrilled at how he has immersed himself in the South Texas community. But most importantly, he’s putting UTRGV on a trajectory of excellence that will make this institution respected not just in Texas, but throughout the nation.” TBB

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