The university community hosted a barbecue on Sept. 29 in celebration of Dr. Maria Hernandez Ferrier’s inauguration as the first president of the university. The casual event followed the formal inauguration on Sept. 28 hosted by San Antonio College and held at McAllister Auditorium.
The celebration marked many firsts for Texas A&M University-San Antonio which is the first upper-level university on the South Side of San Antonio. During a short program led by Richard Delgado, president of the Student Government Association, Ferrier remarked that even as the university grows, she hopes it will remain like a close family.
“As long as I am here you will never be just a number,” she said.
Delgado presented Dr. Ferrier with certificates of recognition from the SGA and another from Governor Rick Perry in honor of the inauguration. “We overshadowed the Governor’s [certificate],” joked Delgado while holding up a frame much larger than the one presented by Governor Perry.
Students, staff and faculty from the university’s two satellite campuses gathered at the main campus at 1450 Gillette Boulevard to enjoy the barbecue provided by student Richard Burton, a veteran of the armed forces and owner of Burton’s BBQ and Catering. Burton will graduate with a degree in international business in December.
“It’s good to support one of our own,” said Douglas Carter, director of external affairs and an adjunct professor of international management.
Burton provided members of the university’s public relations staff with a barbeque taste test in advance of the event, said Carter. Burton said he was excited and appreciative of the university’s support for his business.
Students sat under white tents in the four o’clock heat listening to the amped music provided by the National Guard. A line of more than 100 snaked in a food line around the tents and under the late afternoon sun.
“It is such a historical moment,” said international business accounting senior Zaira Rodriguez who is also involved in the Student Government Association and Chancellor Student Advisory Board. “It’s amazing to get such a high level of education on this side of San Antonio.”
Cresencio Davila, the Student Regent for the Texas A&M University System and a graduate student at TAMU-SA spoke highly of Dr. Ferrier, describing her as both a friend and mentor. “If you don’t know her, you are missing out on a treat.”
Davila referred to Dr. Ferrier as “the little firecracker” explaining that “powerful things come in small packages.”
Guests shared the ways Dr. Ferrier has inspired them and motivated them to continue their own education.
“She makes people look up to her and say, ‘If she can do this than anyone can be successful,’” said Arcaceli Cortez, the sister of a TAMU-SA student.
With the late-afternoon sun still searing above, a hand full of young children ate and played underneath the tents. Communications senior Melissa Sanchez and Ms. TAMU-SA brought her young daughter and parents to eat.
“I’m comfortable bringing my daughter and family with me to events because I know their welcome,” Sanchez said.
The informal barbeque gave Dr. Ferrier the opportunity to speak and show her enthusiasm directly with the students in a more personal and casual way.
“I am personally here to support you,” said Dr. Ferrier in her remarks. Looking out over the audience she said it’s important that the students feel free to talk to her about anything at anytime. “I want to hear from you.”
She then introduced Dr. Frank Madla, Jr., son of the late Senator Frank Madla whose dream to provide higher education to South San Antonio is now coming to fruition.
“I’m happy for the community. Dr. Ferrier brings the same passion for higher education as my father,” said Madla Jr.
The barbecue gave the campus community the chance to socialize with others from different majors and campus locations said education junior Jennifer Fane who met business management senior Kristi Hanson for the first time during the celebration.
Towards six o clock, students continued to eat and enjoy the event.
“It’s exciting to be here because the students is what it’s about,” Dr. Ferrier said.