Laredo Campus Extension names first university distinguished chair
Maria Minerva Garcia, D.D.S., who grew up in Zapata, will be returning to South Texas as the holder of the first distinguished university chair of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio’s Laredo Campus Extension, Kenneth L Kalkwarf, D.D.S., M.S., dean of the Dental School, announced.
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 establishment of the chair was announced last April at a luncheon at the university’s Laredo Campus Extension 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 Hon. Solomon Casseb Jr. and Joseph C. Martin III.
New Pediatric Dentistry Residency Program
Dr. Minerva Garcia will direct the UT Health Science Center’s Pediatric Dentistry Residency Program in Laredo, under the auspices of the Pediatric Dentistry Residency Program in San Antonio. She will move to Laredo later this spring with her husband, Louis Garcia, D.D.S., who grew up in Laredo, and their two sons. Dr. Louis Garcia will be the director of the Advanced Education in General Dentistry Program in Laredo.
General Dental Residency Program to be initiated
Beginning this summer, Health Science Center pediatric and general dentistry residents will practice their clinical skills under the supervision of the Garcias as they provide oral health care for patients in the newly renovated Laredo Health Department’s Dental Clinic. Dr. Louis Garcia will be the director of that new clinical care activity. The university already offers residency rotations in periodontics, prosthodontics and dental public health in Laredo.
“As a bright, young academic from Zapata County, Minerva represents all the ideals we want to bring forward in the Laredo program ― quality education coupled with quality health care, creating quality opportunities for the young people of South Texas,” Dean Kalkwarf said.
Appointments important step for Laredo Campus Extension
“Dr. Garcia’s appointment as the first distinguished chair for Laredo is a very important step in advancing my vision for our Laredo Campus Extension. Dr. Garcia will be focused 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,” said Health Science Center President Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., who also is from Laredo. “Mrs. Vergara left a legacy that has made lives better for so many in the Laredo community. 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.”
New opportunities bring Garcias back home
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 residency in general dentistry 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 University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston and is completing his two-year residency in general dentistry at the UT Health Science Center. The couple met while earning biology degrees at The University of Texas at San Antonio.
Dr. Garcia said, “When I was approached about the idea of leading a dental education training program in Laredo, I was thrilled. The idea of not only being able to treat the needs of the population of Laredo, but also to be able 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 Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $15.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The 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 22,000 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.uthcsca.edu.
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