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Biomedical Building Named for Beloved Former Dean and Vice President for Research

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – AUGUST 27, 2014 – The memory and work of a former administrator at The University of Texas at Brownsville now lives on in a building he envisioned to help find solutions to some of the area’s biggest health problems like diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Luis V. Colom

Dr. Juliet Garcia with Cecilia, Maria and Sebastian Colom at the naming dedication for the Dr. Luis V. Colom Center for Biomedical Studies building on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014.

Maria & Cecilia Colom watch as Sebastian Colom rings the university bell during the naming dedication for the Dr. Luis V. Colom Center for Biomedical Studies building on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014.

The Biomedical Sciences and Health Professions Building II opened in September 2013 and is now the Dr. Luis V. Colom Center for Biomedical Studies. Colom, the university’s former Vice President of the Division of Research and the Dean of the College of Biomedical Sciences and Health Professions and the College of Nursing, lost his battle with cancer in late March.

“He has not left us and he inspires us,” said Dr. Juliet V. Garcia, President of UTB. “I always knew Luis had a higher calling than any of us. He just got there before we did. So he strengthens us daily to continue the work that he began.”

Present for the outdoor naming ceremony on Friday, Aug. 22 were Colom’s wife, Maria and children, 15-year-old Sebastian and 19-year-old Cecilia. The three range the university’s bell at the end of the ceremony.

“Me and my family are very grateful for this event because this represents how many people love my father and how many people my father loved,” said Sebastian Colom, a sophomore at the Science Academy of South Texas in Mercedes. “It really signifies how great my dad was. I really admire him and I want to think all these people. My family is also very grateful for showing how much compassion there was to his causes.”

Cecilia Colom, 19, a UTB senior major in biology, remembered her father’s voice and how when you heard it, you knew he was nearby and present.

“It’s amazing to see the love and respect people have for him after his passing,” she said. “We knew he got along with people but after his passing it was heartwarming to see the respect they had for him.”

Cecilia Colom quoted a portion of the Robert Louis Stevenson poem “The Weaver” which her father had translated to Spanish in a small notebook of sayings he had on his desk at their Brownsville home:

            “To have lived well,
            Laughed often and loved much
            To have gained the respect of intelligent men
            And the love of children
            To have filled a niche
            And accomplished a task
            To have left the world better
            Whether by an improved poppy,
            A perfect poem or a reused soul
            To have appreciated Earth’s beauty
            And not failed to express it
            To have looked for the best in others
            And to have given the best of yourself
            That is achievement”

The University of Texas System Board of Regents approved the building naming in May. The 4,299-square-foot building has faculty offices, support space and six Biosafety Level 2 laboratories built to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Standards. The building is the university’s first Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

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