Laredo Campus Extension accepts $2 million from Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust
Jacquelyn Orfila, a senior at St. Augustine School, presented the $2 million gift to Health Science Center President Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., on behalf of the trustees, the Honorable Solomon Casseb Jr. and Joseph C. Martin III. Orfila hopes to one day become a dentist and practice in her hometown of Laredo. The presentation was held at a luncheon on April 16 at the D.D. Hachar Building on the Health Science Center campus in Laredo.
New dental education chair established
The gift will be used to create an endowment to support an outstanding faculty member and to further the health education initiative at the Laredo Campus Extension. The new Distinguished University Chair will be called 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.
“With this gift we will expand the dental education program here in Laredo into a national model,” President Cigarroa said. “Judge Casseb and Mr. Martin, you have placed a great amount of confidence and responsibility in us and we will make this community proud.”
Kenneth Kalkwarf, D.D.S., dean of the Dental School added, “Ten years ago we started talking with leaders in Laredo about how we can best provide dental care for individuals in South Texas who fall through the cracks of the dental health care system. This gift will allow us to continue our program and take it to a higher level. We plan to use it to make a big difference in the health of this mushrooming city.”
The new initiative
Dean Kalkwarf will lead an innovative multiyear initiative to address the dental health professional shortages in South Texas by establishing a Regional Dental Education Campus in Laredo. The programs will provide educational opportunities for current and future dental health care providers in the Mid-Rio Grande Valley in conjunction with local partners and ensure that dental specialty residency training is represented in Laredo. Dental School students also will complete rotations at the Laredo Regional Dental Educational Campus.
These programs, along with initiatives for bi-national continuing dental education in Laredo, will augment the dental health workforce for the future, enhance support for Mid-Rio Grande Valley dentists and ultimately benefit the citizens.
Lamar Bruni Vergara
Lamar Bruni Vergara, who was born and raised in Laredo, was a longtime community benefactor. As her health declined in later years, Vergara asked her cousin, J.C. Martin Jr., and her longtime friend, Judge Solomon Casseb Jr., to ensure that her mission of caring for the community would continue after her death. Since she passed away in 1989, the trust has provided continuous support of religious, health and educational initiatives in the community.
Today, numerous community institutions and organizations continue to benefit from the generosity of Lamar Bruni Vergara. Her love for Laredo and its citizens thrives through the executors of her estate and the auspices of the trust, which continues to flourish under the leadership of Judge Casseb and J.C. Martin III. Martin now sits as a co-trustee, replacing his late father.
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