LAREDO (April 16, 2008) — Minerva Garcia, D.D.S., a Zapata native, will be named the holder of the first distinguished university chair of the Laredo Campus Extension of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. UT Health Science Center President Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., will make the announcement during a luncheon at 12:30 p.m. today at the Laredo Campus Extension, 1937 Bustamante Street.
The luncheon will honor the Honorable Solomon Casseb Jr. and Joseph C. Martin III, trustees of the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust. The trust provided a $2 million gift in April 2007 to establish this distinguished university chair.
Dr. Garcia will occupy The Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust Distinguished University Chair in Oral Health, in appreciation of The Honorable Solomon Casseb, Jr., and Mr. Joseph C. Martin, III, Trustees. The chair was established in recognition of the generosity of Mrs. Vergara, who was born and raised in Laredo and was a longtime community benefactor, and the trustees, the Honorable Solomon Casseb Jr. and Joseph C. Martin III. April 16 is the anniversary of Mrs. Vergara’s death.
Dr. Garcia will direct The Health Science Center’s Pediatric Dentistry Residency Program in Laredo, under the auspices of the Pediatric Dentistry Residency Program in San Antonio. Her husband, Louis Garcia, D.D.S., a Laredo native, will direct the Advanced Education in General Dentistry Program in Laredo.
Beginning this summer, Health Science Center pediatric and general dentistry residents will expand their clinical skills under the supervision of the Garcias as they provide oral health care for patients in the newly renovated Laredo Health Department Dental Clinic. This is a partnership between the university, the health department and the City of Laredo. Dr. Louis Garcia will be the director of that new clinical care facility.
The university already offers residency rotations in periodontics, prosthodontics and dental and dental hygiene student rotations at the Gateway Community Health Center and Mercy Ministries of Laredo. The Health Science Center also offers dental public health residency training in conjunction with the United Independent School District in Laredo.
“Dr. Garcia’s appointment as the first distinguished university chair for Laredo is a very important step in advancing my vision for our Laredo Campus Extension,” Dr. Cigarroa said. “Dr. Garcia will focus on providing expanded health education opportunities to young people in the Mid-Rio Grande Valley who aspire to become dentists for this region. Laredo has a critical need for all types of health care providers. This initiative will help address the oral health care needs in the community while providing training opportunities for our dental residents.
“Mrs. Vergara left a legacy that has made lives better for so many in the Laredo community,” he added. “We are deeply honored by the confidence the Lamar Bruni Vergara trustees have shown in our university and our dreams for a regional dental education campus in Laredo.”
Dr. Minerva Garcia graduated from Zapata High School in 1993 and completed her dental degree and pediatric dental residency at the Health Science Center. She also completed a general dentistry residency at The University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston.
Dr. Louis Garcia graduated from St. Augustine High School in 1993, earned his dental degree from The UT Dental Branch at Houston and is completing his two-year residency in general dentistry at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.
“When I was approached about the idea of leading a dental education training program in Laredo, I was thrilled,” Dr. Minerva Garcia said. “The idea of not only being able to provide oral health care for the people of Laredo, but also to train providers was beyond anything I had ever imagined. Louie thought this was a great opportunity because it would bring us home and allow us to treat patients of all financial backgrounds. This appointment also will allow me to treat patients from the surrounding communities like Zapata, which has always been a dream for me.”
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $576 million and 5,000 faculty and staff, the UT Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $15.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The UT Health Science Center has had an estimated $35 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to seven campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 23,000 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and allied health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, allied health, dentistry and many other fields. For more information, visit www.uthscsa.edu.