Wednesday, March 3, 2010

STC community celebrates dedication of Manuel Benavidez Jr. Rural Technology Center

South Texas College board members, faculty, staff and students, as well
as local dignitaries and members of the community gathered to dedicate
the college's new Rural Technology Center at its Starr County Campus in
remembrance and celebration of the life and dedication of founding board
member Manuel Benavidez Jr., who passed away in March 2009.
"It is so fitting to name the building in honor of the man who worked
tirelessly to bring opportunities for a better life to not only those
living in Starr County, but all students across the Valley," said Dr.
Shirley A. Reed, STC president, who worked alongside Benavidez on STC's
Board of Trustees until his passing. "The Manuel Benavidez Jr. Rural
Technology Center was his vision and it would never have come to
fruition without his passion.
"He embodied the spirit of Starr County - a people thirsty for
opportunities and, as he liked to say, 'looking for a hand up, not a
hand out,'" she added. "His work changed lives and changed this
community for the better. He was one-of-a-kind and we are so proud to be
able to honor him in this way."
The new facility provides space for Internet-connected classrooms,
computer aided drafting labs, a graphic arts lab, a network
administration lab, a Web page design lab, telecommunications technology
labs, computer maintenance labs and areas for a variety of other
information technology-related tools and instruction. The state of Texas
provided $3.5 million in state appropriations to fund the center's
construction and initial technology purchase costs. STC will fund the
center's annual operating costs.
Benavidez's family, including his daughter, Rose Benavidez, who was
recently elected to serve the constituents of Starr County on STC's
Board of Trustees, were in attendance to share in the celebration.
"I want to congratulate Starr County and the surrounding communities on
the opening of this tremendous facility," said Rose Benavidez. "My
father put a lot of work into bringing this facility to fruition. It was
amazing to see the passion he exhibited in pursuing his mission. He was
a gambler at heart and knew that with the people of Starr County behind
him, the odds were in his favor.
"Now this facility will provide our community the technological edge to
compete in the global economy," she added. "I know he would be extremely
proud and equally appreciative of this honor. Our family takes comfort
and solace in knowing that his legacy will live on through every life
touched by this institution."
Following his appointment as a founding STC board member in 1993,
Benavidez was re-elected to his board seat two times. He served the
board as chair and vice-chair, and was the board secretary at the time
of his passing. He was a member of the Education and Workforce
Innovation Committee and the Facilities Committee. He also served as the
director of transportation for the Rio Grande City CISD.
Benavidez's efforts on behalf of STC have received national acclaim. In
2005, he was recognized at the Association of Community College Trustees
Annual Congress as the recipient of the Lifetime Membership Award for
exemplary leadership and strong support in the areas of diversity and
equal opportunity. In 2006 he received the Western Region Trustee
Leadership Award, given by the Association of Community College Trustees
(ACCT). He was one of five regional award winners selected from nominees
located across three countries, including the United States, Canada and
"I spent a lot of time talking with Manuel about his vision and
aspirations for Starr County," said Gary Gurwitz, who was elected as a
founding member of the STC Board of Trustees along with Benavidez and
who currently serves as the board's vice-chair. "It was a heavy burden
because so much was riding on the development of the college in the
county. But, he bore it with enthusiasm and happiness. We appreciated
and respected him so much. And it's a personal and professional pleasure
that we celebrate the opening of this facility today, named in his
In addition to praise for Benavidez's vision and dedication, STC
President Reed also extended thanks to the many hands that helped bring
the center from concept to reality.
"I also want to extend our heartfelt appreciation to State Rep. Ryan
Guillen and State Senator Judith Zafarrini, who both worked to usher the
bill through the capitol and make the funds possible to bring about the
birth of the center. We are very fortunate to have two such strong
advocates on the side of the Rio Grande Valley."

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