The UTSA Alumni Association hosted the 11th annual UTSA Reflections Alumni Gala. The event was held at the Omni Hotel at The Colonnade grand ballroom on Saturday Aug. 28. The theme of the evening was that alumni reflect on the past, present and future of the university.
The UTSA Alumni Association Reflections Gala presented Barbara Gentry the Distinguished Service Award and honored Ingrid Barth Faris ’83 as the Alumnus of the Year.
Gentry is president of the USAA Foundation and president of the USAA Educational Foundation. Her contributions to UTSA are numerous. One of the things that she is most proud of is the UTSA ACE (Access College and Excel) Scholars program. Her support for these programs has been instrumental in their success.
In a UTSA interview, Joe Robles Jr., president and CEO of USAA, said, “With Barbara’s leadership, USAA has supported UTSA with the following endeavors: mentoring initiatives; scholarships in the colleges; support and guidance for being a Tier One university; community service projects; and support for academic programs.”
Faris graduated summa cum laude in 1983 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in psychology and minors in criminal justice, business and computer science. She served as the UTSA Alumni Association President from 1997-1999. She has also served as a board member, committee chair and executive committee member.
Faris said that it is important to keep the alumni connected to the university.
“I have always stayed very involved with UTSA. They [alumni] can come help raise money for scholarships and be there for (UTSA); a lot of the work is being done with President Romo,” Faris said.
Faris and her husband own a highway construction business, she credits the skills she learned at UTSA for helping to make the business a success.
“I was an older student when I went to UTSA. For me, accounting and computer science were the two most important. My husband and I are still using the programs I wrote to bid for TXDOT work,” Faris said.
Dr. Harriet Romo agreed that it is important for alumni to stay connected to the university.
“It’s a good thing to make connections and to network. A lot of successful people come back and want to find their friends,” Harriet Romo said.
Jeff Cisneros, senior history major, said that he imagines that UTSA will make the $100,000 goal.
“The auction has everything from a Coach Coker football to Sutton Place Collection of crystal,” Cisneros said.
“I was just browsing around and they have some really nice things,” Coker said.
His football’s starting auction price of $50.
Former Alumni Association President Yvonne Katz said that is important when alumni return and help pave the way for students.
“Someone helped them and its only right that they help someone else,” Katz said.
Katz has served as president of organizations including the Texas Council of Women School Executives, University Roundtable and San Antonio Education Partnership.
President Romo said that alumni are essential for the growth of our young university.
“We are getting better and bigger every day,” Ricardo Romo said.