Loeffler praised for staunch work on Board of Regents
Tom Loeffler, a strong advocate of higher education and the Health Science Center during two terms on The University of Texas System Board of Regents, received a Texas-size measure of appreciation during a March 1 dinner hosted by Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, president of the Health Science Center.
Civic and business leaders, elected officials, current and former regents, the secretary of commerce and even a legendary Texas football coach expressed their gratitude for Regent Loeffler's dedication and service.
"Here is a life of giving," said businessman B.J. "Red" McCombs, a member of the UTHSC Development Board. "I have had the pleasure of knowing Tom since he was playing football for Darrell Royal at The University of Texas at Austin. I have watched this extraordinary leader through the years and he has amazed me in several ways. He is a creative forward-thinker who has the courage to execute what he envisions. Those are very rare qualities."
Loeffler recently was named chairman of the Board of Regents, succeeding Donald Evans, who in January was selected by President Bush to be commerce secretary. Loeffler's second six-year term as a regent expired Feb. 1, but he continues to serve until Gov. Rick Perry names a new appointee and the Texas Senate confirms the selection.
"I join Dr. Cigarroa and your many friends in extending my greetings," Secretary Evans said in a video message. "It was a privilege to serve with you on the Board of Regents, and I want to thank you for your service on the board and to America."
Very few Texans have served a full 12 years on the Board of Regents, Dr. Cigarroa noted. "Tom, it is a tribute to how much confidence two governors have had in your leadership and your ability to guide this immense U. T. System into this new century," Dr. Cigarroa said.
A video captured the many highlights of Loeffler's career. He has served four presidents - Ford, Reagan, Bush and Bush - and four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. His appointments have included special assistant for legislative affairs under President Ford in 1975 and principal coordinator for Central America under President Reagan in 1987. From 1979 to 1987 he represented the 21st Congressional District, a district encompassing up to 31 counties from San Antonio west along the Rio Grande. The voters returned him to Washington three times and he rose to the rank of Republican chief deputy whip.
Chairman Loeffler never departed from the values he learned growing up in the town of Mason northwest of Fredericksburg. "Your life represents the very best of what it means to be a Texan - and an American. From Mason to the White House, your life has been shaped by the values you learned right here in Texas," Dr. Cigarroa said.
Loeffler and his wife, Nancy, live in San Antonio and have a ranch near Fredericksburg. He is a senior partner and chairman of the government affairs practice group in the national law firm of Arter & Hadden. Stanley Rosenberg, a colleague of Loeffler in the San Antonio office, stepped forward to announce that the firm is funding a permanent endowment for research in Loeffler's name. "This endowment will live after we are gone," he told Chairman Loeffler.
During the video tribute, legendary Longhorns Coach Darrell Royal remembered Tom Loeffler the player. "I was the boss when I was coaching football, and now Tom is my boss as chairman of the Board of Regents," he said with a smile.
During Chairman Loeffler's service on the Board of Regents, the Health Science Center has received $130 million in university funds, including Permanent University Fund allocations for the Robert F. McDermott Clinical Science Building, the Allied Health/Research Building, the Institute of Biotechnology, the School of Nursing expansion and other major ongoing projects such as the Regional Academic Health Center and the UTHSC campus extension in Laredo.
"Everyone in this room knows the importance of the Board of Regents," Dr. Cigarroa said. "Gov. John Connally used to say that if you wanted to see where the economy of a community thrived, just see where a university was placed. And he was absolutely right. The decisions of the Board of Regents have a tremendous economic impact on the future of this state."
Guests included former Regent Sam Barshop, for whom the soon-to-be-constructed Sam and Ann Barshop Center for Longevity and Aging Studies will be named; former Regent Dr. Mario Ramirez, a vice president at the Health Science Center; and Jess Hay, former chairman of the Board of Regents. Others in attendance included the former chancellor of the U. T. System and former president of the U. T. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Charles A. LeMaistre, and the executive vice chancellor for health affairs of the System, Dr. Charles Mullins.
Dr. Ricardo Romo, president of UTSA, said Chairman Loeffler is a "truly remarkable diplomat" who has worked effectively behind the scenes.
Chairman Loeffler thanked Govs. Bill Clements and George W. Bush for naming him to two terms as a regent. "Like all of my colleagues on the board, I have not only cut ribbons but have raised money and gone before the Legislature to tell the story. I have attended exactly 100 board meetings and reviewed 20,000 pages of documents, and participated in two chancellor selections and the selections of 18 component presidents. Every two-year period, we put the faculty and students of the institutions far ahead of partisan politics," he said.
He concluded his speech by praising the leaders of UTHSC and UTSA, Drs. Cigarroa and Romo. About the Health Science Center he said: "Tonight we have the opportunity to be a part of wonderful leaders, better facilities and better access to education. On the health side, with Dr. Cigarroa, the researchers and the students, we will see advances based on new treatments that will cause less pain and provide more thorough, more complete results than the world has ever known."