UHV staff member honored with Person of Year Award
Donald Jirkovsky, the director of the University of Houston-Victoria Center for Regional Collaboration, was recognized for his outstanding contributions to regional growth and collaboration in August of last year.
During the 56th annual Golden Crescent Regional Planning Commission’s general assembly meeting on Aug. 23 in Cuero, Jirkovsky was awarded the George W. Trowell Person of the Year Award. The award is presented to an individual to recognize their time and effort to advance the cause of the Golden Crescent Region.
Known for his passion for advocacy of higher education and community engagement, Jirkovsky stressed the importance of giving back to the community and fostering awareness for the university through valuable initiatives, and said it was an honor to be awarded the George W. Trowell Person of the Year Award.
“Donald is one of those rare people who loves what he does, and so he is always glad to see whomever he meets and uniformly greets each person with a warm smile and a firm handshake,” said UHV President Bob Glenn. “He believes in UHV and in our mission, so he is driven to serve the university and regional community by making good things happen. He does not passively wait for direction; rather, he is constantly looking for ways to serve. He is a good man who is the type of colleague we all hope to be.”
Born and raised in Yoakum, Jirkovsky graduated from Yoakum High School in 1977. Due to financial constraints at the time, Jirkovsky said he held aside his dream of attending college and found work as a mechanic for the Texas Department of Transportation.
Jirkovsky dedicated more than 27 years to serving Yoakum’s region as the district operations manager for the Texas Department of Transportation and later went on to be the regional operations manager where he served the southern region of the state for more than three years.
He enrolled at Victoria College where he began his academic career, and graduated magna cum laude with an Associate of Science degree in 1997 before coming over to UHV. In 2010, Jirkovsky graduated from UHV summa cum laude to earn his Bachelor of Business Administration in management.
“I realized how that makes a difference for me being out in the regional rural area; neither one of my parents had a high school education,” Jirkovsky said. “I understood how an education can make you look at the world in a different way.”
Currently, Jirkovsky serves as the director for the UHV Center for Regional Collaboration, a post he has held since 2020, where he and his team work to assist the regional needs for access to information resources and professional expertise. The center also collaborates with other educational, governmental and nonprofit organizations to promote education as well as economic and cultural development in the region.
“Donald Jirkovsky is a go-getter,” said Bob Hoover, community development specialist for the Center for Regional Collaboration. “He is always on the lookout to see what’s coming and is trying to bring new things and new programs to the university. He’s always one step ahead and is amazing at community outreach.”
Under Jirkovsky’s leadership, the Center for Regional Collaboration has played a role in increasing rural broadband awareness by working with the Texas State Broadband Office, and hosting conferences that bring together industry leaders and educators. One project, highlighted by Jirkovsky, involved working with Dow Chemical to address regional needs and promote awareness of technological advancements.
The center has also been engaged in collaborating with school districts, economic developers and employers to find ways that UHV can contribute to the region’s educational, economic and cultural development.
“I wouldn’t have made it to this position if it wasn’t for my degree from UHV,” Jirkovsky said. “For what was given to me, my job now is to give back to the region; let’s help people understand the importance of higher education and make this region more educated.”
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.