Bert Ogden Auto Group has presented UT Rio Grande Valley with more than $2 million to endow scholarships for
undergraduate and graduate students.
UTRGV President Guy Bailey called the donation a seminal event in the university’s history during the ceremony held Jan. 12 at the Performing Arts Complex on the Edinburg Campus.Bailey introduced the owners of Bert Ogden Auto Group, Robert “Bob” and Janet Vackar, as the donors.
One million dollars will go to the College of Business and Entrepreneurship, also known as the Robert C. Vackar Endowed Scholarship for Aspiring Entrepreneurs. Another $1 million will go to students pursuing a degree in mass communication in the College of Liberal Arts, also referred to as the Janet Ogden Vackar Spirit of Philanthropy Endowed Scholarship.
An additional $80,000 will go to the already existing Susan Lewis Vackar Clark Memorial Scholarship.
“An endowed scholarship of this magnitude means that students will forever benefit from the generosity of the Vackar family,” Bailey said. “These scholarships [will] remain at the university in perpetuity.”
Mark Kroll, dean of the College of Business and Entrepreneurship, believes the money will help keep the best students in the Rio Grande Valley rather than going elsewhere.
“This money will hopefully, to a certain extent, alleviate the need for [students] to work while they’re going to school,”
Kroll said. “Most of our students work–a vast majority have to work at least part time. And if we can give people a little scholarship money, they, in effect, can cut back on the hours they work. They can put a little more effort in their schooling, they can take more hours, they can finish quicker and so on and so forth.”
Janet Vackar’s father, Bert Ogden, opened his first car dealership, Ralph Balue Motors, along University Drive. Since then, the auto group has expanded throughout the Valley with 13 dealership locations in cities such as Mission, McAllen, Edinburg and Harlingen. selling vehicles of all brands including Maserati, Kia, Chevrolet, Nissan, Infiniti, Buick GMC, Subaru, Volvo and Dodge.
“I kind of hung out [at Ralph Balue Motors], and so I knew that his passion was the students over here,” Janet Ogden Vackar said. “They were his great customers. And the faculty would come and buy from him. He probably was supported more by them more than anyone in the Valley that came to him when he first started.”