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The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine


Alvarezes Honored with Hall Renaming

Carlos and Malu Alvarez

Malú and Carlos Alvarez at the residence hall named in their honor.

Standing inside a UTSA residence hall on the first day of spring, Carlos Alvarez and wife Malú gathered with students, faculty and staff. The timing of the event was fortuitous, since everyone was there to celebrate a new chapter in honor of the couple’s dedication to the university — the renaming of the building from San Saba Hall to the Carlos and Malú Alvarez Hall.

“I would like to say ‘Mi casa es su casa,’” Carlos Alvarez told the crowd, which broke into applause. “We are certainly going to tell a lot of people about the successes the university is having. Thank you for this great honor.”

The hall houses 618 students in a suite-style layout. Residents have access to a conference room, computer lab, study lounges, laundry facilities and a community kitchen. It is notable for housing academically focused learning communities, including the Honors College and Top Scholars, Terry Scholars and Facilitated Acceptance to Medical Education programs.

The Alvarez family has donated more than $4.3 million in gifts to UTSA through personal donations and support from their foundations and companies.

They are the donors of the Carlos and Malú Alvarez Endowment for Student Success, the Alvarez Graduate Research Education Excellence Fund and the Alvarez Challenge Match for Graduate Student Excellence fund. Alvarez donations have also been leveraged to generate millions in additional gifts and state matching funds.

Carlos Alvarez, a native of Mexico, arrived in the United States in 1986 to become the founder, president and chief executive officer of the Gambrinus Co. Best known as the owner and brewer of Shiner Beers, the company also owns the BridgePort Brewery in Portland, Ore., and the Trumer Brewery in Berkeley, Calif.

Presidential Scholars Get New Funding

Betty Murray Halff

Betty Murray Halff

Top students who need help funding their education have more help available because of a $100,000 gift from Betty Murray Halff.

The Betty Murray Halff Distinguished Presidential Scholarship endowment will provide approximately $4,500 per year in financial support for students in the UTSA Distinguished Presidential Scholars program. Increasing merit-based scholarships to help recruit high-achieving students will ensure UTSA remains competitive.

Halff, a UTSA alumna and the university’s first director of development, has been a longtime supporter. In 2002 she and husband Howard established the Betty Murray Halff Endowed Scholarship for the UTSA Ambassadors.

A Gift for a Cure

Semmeses boost funding to support Alzheimer’s research

Patricia and Tom Semmes

Patricia and Tom Semmes

In a continued quest to help find a cure for the sixth-leading cause of death in America, the Semmes Foundation has given an additional $500,000 to support the work of renowned Alzheimer’s disease expert George Perry, UTSA’s College of Sciences dean.

The 2014 gift brings the total endowment for the Patricia and Tom Semmes Endowed Chair in Neurobiology to $1.5 million, creating additional opportunities for worldwide collaboration and expanded research into the debilitating disease.

Perry has held the chair since 2013, when the Semmes Foundation leveraged a matching gift opportunity that created the endowment.

“Not only is Dr. Perry an acknowledged creative genius in his research field, but he is the dean of seven academic departments with 245 faculty and 5,000 students. He also collaborates with the best scientists in the world,” says foundation trustee Pat Semmes. “We are so honored to support his 30-year passion for looking for answers and are proud to be alongside Dr. Perry in the discovery of a cure for Alzheimer’s.”

An estimated 5 million people age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Those numbers could triple by 2050, according to a RAND Corp. research report.

“I appreciate the support of the Semmes Foundation because it allows us to move forward with our work,” Perry says. “We are very grateful for their belief in our efforts.”

GoldStar Initiative

UTSA advancing research with more faculty, graduate programs

GoldStar Initiative

As part of a four-year, $40 million plan, UTSA will recruit 60 new top-tier scholars to advance the university’s research capabilities. News of this GoldStar Initiative, as it is known, came during President Ricardo Romo’s State of the University address in the fall.

In its first year the initiative will recruit experts in advanced materials, open cloud computing and cybersecurity, big data, biomedicine and social and educational transformation as well as sustainable communities.

“I consider this period of hiring growth to be one of the most crucial in our history,” Romo says. “If San Antonio is to remain a leader in a global economy, it must have the high caliber of research that we conduct at UTSA.”

The university will initially rely on institutional resources to support the hiring of new researchers, 15 each year over four years. It also will pursue recruitment funding from the UT System Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention Program. New gifts from donors will directly support the work.

As part of the GoldStar Initiative, the university intends to increase its annual research expenditures from the current level of approximately $50 million to $75 million in the next five years, then soon after to $100 million — a Tier One threshold for research spending.

As additional researchers come to UTSA, the university will recruit more graduate students to assist them. The university will expand both its master’s and doctoral programs over the next three years, with a goal of increasing the number of master’s students to 4,500 from 3,300 and the number of Ph.D. students to 900 from the current 750. UTSA also will develop at least six new doctoral programs over the same period.

Peter T. Flawn

Peter T. Flawn

Supporting Tier One

Gift will fund scholarships and research fellowships

An anonymous donor has made $2 million in gifts to benefit Peter T. Flawn scholarships for honors students and a graduate research fellowship. Both support UTSA’s Tier One aspirations.

From 1973 to 1977, Flawn was UTSA's second president. During that time, the university opened its Main Campus, held its first commencement ceremony and achieved full accreditation for its graduate programs by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Flawn went on to be president of UT Austin.



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