UHV presents awards during holiday reception
The University of Houston-Victoria hosted a holiday reception Tuesday evening and presented awards to four individuals and organizations that have made an impact on the university and the community.
Almost 200 people including faculty, staff, students and community members attended the UHV Holiday Reception, a come-and-go event intended to celebrate the holiday season and acknowledge some of the community members who have made a difference at the university. During the reception, the university presented awards to community partners and a UHV student. Attendees also enjoyed heavy hors d’oeuvres by Chartwells and a video featuring a UHV Night Before Christmas.
“UHV is fortunate to have so many steadfast supporters and community partners,” UHV President Bob Glenn said. “We are glad to welcome our faculty, staff, students and the community to celebrate the holidays with us as we honor some important people and foundations.”
The most prestigious award given out Tuesday evening was the UHV Presidential Medal. The medal is the highest award bestowed by the university. It is given periodically to recognize individuals who have made distinguished professional and public contributions to UHV, the community it serves or to higher education in general. This year, the medal was awarded posthumously to Claud Jacobs. His family attended the event and accepted the award on his behalf.
Jacobs was one of the original supporters of UHV. He advocated for the opening of a university in Victoria and continued to support UHV throughout the years as it grew and developed. In recent years, he has also been a steadfast supporter of UHV Athletics. He and his wife, Mary Virginia, established the first athletic scholarship in 2007 for UHV’s new baseball program. UHV also hosts the Claud Jacobs Invitational Golf Tournament every year. Jacobs and his family have also created other academic scholarships for UHV as well.
In addition to his support for UHV and higher education in the region, Jacobs was also one of the founders of the Bluebonnet Youth Ranch, which provides a safe home to mothers and their children. Throughout his life, he helped raise millions of dollars to support the organization.
“Our family is humbled to receive this award on behalf of Claud,” Mary Virginia Jacobs said. “He worked hard to bring an upper division school to Victoria because he knew it would benefit our community. He would want everyone to know that you can’t do anything by yourself. Everything we do is a team effort, and he was always grateful for anyone who would lend their support to UHV and Victoria.”
Another award from the evening was the People Who Make A Difference Award, which pays tribute to those who have supported the university and made a difference in the quality of life in the community. The award was given to Debra Williams, a retired educator and two-time alumna of UHV.
Williams has lived in Victoria since 1980 and worked for nearly 30 years for the Victoria Independent School District as a teacher and then as a campus-level administrator. Her primary focus was bilingual education. Today, she is an active member of the community and has served as a member of the UHV President’s Advisory Board since 2015. She’s also worked with organizations including Alpha Delta Kappa, an international sorority for women in education, and Women in Partnership for Progress, which donated $10,000 to UHV last year to create a scholarship endowment.
“It’s an honor to receive this award from UHV,” Williams said. “The university has given me so much already. It’s exciting to see what UHV has become since my time as a student. Anything I can do for the university is a pleasure. This award is just icing on the cake.”
The Community Partnership Award is presented to a person, business or organization that has helped advance the quality of life in the region and at the university. This year, the award was given to The Cloyde and Ethel Lee Tracy Foundation. The foundation was created in May 1984 and has supported many projects in Victoria and the region.
In 1998, the foundation made its first $25,000 donation to UHV and has supported the university with regular contributions ever since. It has created an endowed scholarship for UHV students in Victoria and sponsored a conference room in UHV University North. The foundation’s award was accepted by Myra Starkey, a board member from the foundation.
“We are so honored to be able to give,” Starkey said. “We all strive to do what Mrs. Tracy would have wanted. She did great things in this town, and we are proud to carry on her legacy.”
The university also presented the Student Leadership Award, which recognizes a student who demonstrates excellence in leadership and academics. This year, the award was given to Bo Walding, a junior business management major from Fort Collins, Colo. Walding transferred to UHV in the spring of 2022 and has been involved in several student organizations and leadership groups.
He has been involved in the Jaguar Activities Board, the Multicultural Advisory Council, the UHV Student Government Association and UHV Orientation. As an orientation leader, he shared his story with incoming students and encouraged new students to get involved, be driven and make their mark at UHV. He’s also volunteered in several events such as the ROAR Leadership Conference, a leadership retreat and the UHV Day at the Capitol.
“Receiving this award means a lot to me,” Walding said. “It means that UHV is a campus where hard work pays off. I try to give as much as the campus has given me. Getting recognition for my hard work means so much.”
In addition to the awards, UHV gave attendees the special 50th anniversary balsamic fig jam by Vela Farms. The figs in the jam came from the Vela family’s own fig tree in Victoria.
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 50 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.