Jude Valdez

NOVEMBER 27, 2023 — UTSA has announced it will name its Institute for Economic Development in honor of its founder, Jude Valdez ’72, to recognize his nearly 40-year tenure with the university and his generosity for establishing the Jude Valdez Economic Development Excellence Fund. The endowment will directly support the Jude Valdez Institute for Economic Development and its work driving business development at the local, state, national and international levels.

With a background in business and economic development, Valdez served in academic and leadership roles at UTSA, culminating in his service as the vice president for community services when he retired from the university in 2018.

“I’m so pleased to honor Jude Valdez with this naming, as his passion for higher education and life-long dedication to advancing UTSA has transformed the university’s position as a leader in economic development,” said President Taylor Eighmy. “His ambitious vision for the institute positioned the university as an invaluable asset for the growth and prosperity of our city, state and region, and it’s only appropriate that we honor him in this way for his steadfast leadership.”

Valdez joined UTSA in 1979 as the executive director of what is now known as the Carlos Alvarez College of Business(ACOB). He also served as a faculty member in the college for more than 30 years.

In addition, he established, administered and secured funding for the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Trade Adjustment Assistance Center and the Center for Entrepreneurial Development. He later merged these initiatives to establish the UTSA Institute for Economic Development, which is responsible for an annual direct economic impact exceeding $2 billion in new financing and investments, new sales, contracts and exports.

Over the past 10 years, the UTSA Institute for Economic Development’s Texas South-West Small Business Development Center Network has helped nearly 6,000 businesses start and more than 5,000 additional businesses expand, resulting in the creation of more than 41,000 jobs and the retention of 53,000 additional jobs. Moreover, during the same 10-year span, the work of the Institute has resulted in more than $2 billion in capital access and an additional $5 billion in increased sales for small businesses.

In 1986, Valdez became the associate dean of ACOB, where he led executive and professional development programs and economic development initiatives. He was later appointed as the vice president for downtown operations to help expand UTSA’s downtown presence, resulting in the establishment of the UTSA Downtown Campus in 1997.

He also led the university’s efforts to achieve its first Carnegie Community Engagement designation, acknowledging the university’s "dynamic and noteworthy" community outreach efforts in San Antonio and its impact on the global community through teaching and research, public service, volunteerism, civic partnerships and economic development. UTSA received the designation in 2015.

Throughout his many roles, Valdez helped ensure the institute and the Downtown Campus were aligned with UTSA’s vision to be a university of the future.

Comprised of 10 centers and programs, the institute excels in results-oriented advising, training and research for entrepreneurs, experienced business owners and community leaders seeking strategic economic growth at the local, regional, national and international levels. This economic driver has acted as a key source of guidance for small business owners looking to launch, grow and scale their business ventures into successful companies.

“I worked closely with Jude for nearly three decades and was inspired by his passion for elevating UTSA as a leader in economic development,” said Robert “Bob” McKinley, former UTSA associate vice president for economic development. “His commitment to the advancement of the university’s work in this arena laid firm groundwork for the institute's continued success. Naming the institute in his honor is a testament to the thousands of business owners who have found success across Texas and beyond.”

McKinley led the institute for 28 years and evolved it into a catalyst for job creation and small business development in South Texas, the U.S., and across the Caribbean and Latin America.

Following McKinley’s departure in 2018, UTSA launched a national search and hired Rod McSherry as associate vice president for innovation and economic development in the Fall of 2019. With over 35 years of experience in the field of global economic, community and business development, McSherry has played an essential role in building upon Valdez's legacy.

“Assuming leadership of the IED has been both an honor and an inspiring journey," said McSherry. "The foundation that Jude laid for this institute has given us solid ground that we’ve continued to build upon through innovation and expansion of the institute’s services. His legacy has raised the university’s profile and changed the economic landscape of our region and beyond for the better.”

Valdez's impact extends well beyond his roles at the university. He has served on numerous boards and committees, including the Westside Creeks Restoration Oversight Committee (WCROC) and The Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education (TACHE), contributing his expertise to key initiatives for entrepreneurial growth and educational reform. Recognizing his commitment and service to the improvement of education and employment opportunities for Hispanics in higher education, Valdez received the TACHE 2011 Meritorious Service Award.

Valdez retired from UTSA in 2018 as the vice president for community services, a position in which he oversaw the university’s community engagement programs, including the Child and Adolescent Policy Research Institute, the Center for Civic Engagement, the Institute of Texan Cultures, the Institute for P-20 Initiatives, Professional and Continuing Education and the UTSA Mexico Center, in addition to the Institute.

A ceremony will be held to unveil the Jude Valdez Institute for Economic Development on January 16, 2024 with members of the UTSA community, local business leaders and economic development partners in attendance. The event will recognize Valdez’s legacy and highlight the institute’s transformative economic impact.

“Throughout my career, I advanced economic development initiatives that have played an integral role in the evolution of UTSA into the nationally recognized research university that it is today. Equally as meaningful, I had the opportunity to serve alongside dedicated leaders and passionate teams with a shared vision to transform UTSA into an engine for social mobility and economic prosperity,” said Valdez. “To have the Institute for Economic Development named after me is an incredible honor. UTSA has played a significant role in my career and life, and I couldn’t be prouder of what it has become for our community.”

As the Jude Valdez Institute for Economic Development enters this new chapter, it continues to uphold its founding mission – to be a leader in creating jobs, growing businesses and fostering economic development in Texas and beyond.