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University Gains San Antonio Native as Inaugural President
October 1, 2010

University Gains San Antonio Native as Inaugural President

By Michael JimenezShortly after Dr. Maria Hernandez Ferrier took her place behind the podium at McAllister auditorium at San Antonio College, Texas A&M University-San Antonio officially gained its inaugural president.

“Never, in my wildest dreams, could I have dreamt of such a moment,” said Dr. Ferrier.  Although in place as interim president since January 21, 2010, Dr. Ferrier’s presidential appointment arguably brings stable leadership to the campus of Texas A&M-San Antonio.

The inauguration was held before a distinguished crowd of dignitaries including State Senator Carlos Uresti, Alamo colleges Chancellor Bruce Leslie and San Antonio Councilwoman Mary A. Cisneros.  A concert choir from the University of Texas A&M-Kingsville presented the crowd with the debut of the university’s alma mater, “Bienvenidos” written by Jazz Musician Jim Cullum and performed by the Texas A&M University-Kingsville Concert Choir in collaboration with voices from the audience.

Keynote speaker and regent member Gene Stallings proclaimed,  “We have hired the right person for the job!”  Stallings spoke on the importance of work ethic and defined leadership humorously as “the ability to get someone to do something they don’t want to do.”

Texas State Senator Carlos Uresti of district 19 likened Ferrier to a magician.  “You know once in awhile someone steps into your life and you know that moment that person is not only special, not only fabulous, but she’s magical.  You only have to look at Maria to see the magic behind her eyes…everything she touches turns to gold.”

Student Government Association president Richard Delgado spoke on behalf of the student body.  “Know that we, your students are here to support you and your vision,” he said.

Cynthia Marshall, Ferrier’s daughter, shared personal stories of her mother’s compassion and dedication. “I’m proud to call this extraordinary woman my mother.”

Dr. Ferrier grew up on the West Side of San Antonio, and was a single mother at the age of 30 when she began her education at San Antonio College.  She overcame many obstacles but persevered and is in the prominent position of helping others pursue higher education.

Ferrier’s inauguration took place on the very campus where her educational journey began, leading her to a pinnacle of success even she had not predicted.

“I pledge to do my very best, by God’s grace and accept this charge as the inaugural president of Texas A&M University San Antonio,” Ferrier said to the audience, who gave repeated standing ovations throughout the inauguration.  “Thank you for your belief, your enduring belief and commitment to this our new Texas A&M University San Antonio.”

In support of Dr. Ferrier’s crowning achievement, she was also joined by the Latina Ph.D’s and Ed.D’s,  a group of sixty academics formed by longtime friend Dr. Elena Rojas Clark of the University of Texas San Antonio, who invited the group to march in academic regalia during Dr. Ferrier’s procession. “Fue una cosa muy importante, no solamente para nuestra communidad de San Antonio, ni el estado de Tejas, ni en todos los Estados Unidos, y tambien en el mundo,” said Dr. Clark.

The Latina’s with Ph.D’s and Ed.D’s united support for Dr. Ferrier was inspiriational to Dr. Patricia Sanchez, associate professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

“Were here to support (Dr. Ferrier) and to be here in this historic moment. It’s heartwarming and just inspiring,” Sanchez said.

Just less than one percent of all doctorates earned in the United States are earned by Latina women.

“It can always get done no matter how long it takes you,” Sanchez said. “But always continue. It will be with you for the rest of your life.”

The inauguration had a strong impact on students.

“Today was simply an amazing day not only for Dr. Ferrier, but for the university and our students. The board of regents couldn’t have made a better choice than Dr. Ferrier,” said psychology senior Krystal Escamilla.

At the helm of the university, Texas A&M University-San Antonio’s inaugural president has made many commitments to the university and region, including programs such as K-12, a program that works with area school leaders from elementary, middle schools and high schools to combat the high dropout rate in San Antonio.

“It’s nearer and dearer to my heart, because it’s in el mero barrio where we can make an amazing difference,” Ferrier said.

Amanda Aguilar contributed to this report.

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