OLLU receives $1 million gift to create the Verónica Salazar Media Center

Verónica Salazar Escobedo and her husband, Rubén Escobedo, have given Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) a $1 million gift to establish the Verónica Salazar Media Center.

The gift will be used to enhance and grow the Mass Communication Program at OLLU. New equipment will be purchased for the television studio, the Lake Front Student Newspaper and computer labs used in the development of new media and film projects. In addition, an endowment will be established to ensure continued growth in the department.

“I owe a lot to the Congregation of Divine Providence (the Sisters who founded OLLU),” said Salazar Escobedo, a 1965 graduate of Our Lady of the Lake. “They took care of me, protected me and prepared me for a career in media. I want to ensure that OLLU continues to do this for upcoming students.”

Salazar Escobedo began her newspaper career at a time when females and Hispanics were a rarity in the business. Through tenacity and hard work, she moved up and expanded her role. During her 35-year career at the San Antonio Express-News, Salazar Escobedo served as a columnist, ecruiter, community relations director and ultimately as vice president. During her tenure, she was known professionally by her maiden name of Salazar.

“That is her professional name and how people know her,” said her husband. “We are very proud of her accomplishments. It is only fitting that the media center bears her professional name.”

Michael Laney, dean of the OLLU College of Arts and Sciences, said, “We are deeply humbled and grateful to the Escobedos for this recognition of our academic program and our students. Their partnership with Our Lady of the Lake University, particularly as we seek to prepare Latinos and minorities for this century’s global information market, represents a significant investment that will expand opportunities.”

Salazar Escobedo is a long-time supporter of OLLU. She has served as a trustee. She and her husband provided a generous gift for the reconstruction of Main Building following the 2008 fire, and she served as chair of the Sister Elizabeth Anne Sueltenfuss Gala in June 2008 and the Sister Jane Ann Slater Tribute Dinner on June 16, 2015.

“Verónica is a true inspiration for the students in our Mass Communication Program,” said OLLU President Sister Jane Ann Slater, CDP, PhD. “She stands as an example to all our students of what they can accomplish through study, hard work and perseverance.”

OLLU’s Mass Communication Program has produced many successful journalists and practitioners throughout the years. Alumni hold positions as anchors, producers, reporters, hosts, filmmakers and photographers, as well as many other positions in communications across Texas and the United States.

“The Escobedos’ gift will create exceptional hands-on student preparation with state-of-the art equipment in a converged media environment, while building professional portfolios and résumés long before they graduate, impacting generations of OLLU students to come. We plan to repay their generosity by graduating highly trained, future leaders in the media industry,” said Professor Antoinette Winstead, head of the Mass Communication Program.

Several alumni have won regional Emmy Awards, including television photographer Juan Renteria (’96), who has won eight; Patricio Espinoza (’13), special assignments reporter for WOAI-News 4, who has won six; Arantxa Loizaga (’12), former KWEX-41 news anchor and current Univision network weekend newscast co-anchor, who has won two; and Eileen Teves (’12), Great Day SA! Reporter and co-host, who has won one. Other notable alumni include Karen Grace (’00), weekend anchor and reporter for KENS 5; and Ann Hutyra (‘02), evening news anchor for KGNS-TV in Laredo.

The gift was presented during the Sister Jane Ann Slater Tribute Dinner held at the Omni Hotel on June 16. As chair of the dinner, Salazar Escobedo also helped raise more than $170,000 toward an endowment in the name of Sister Slater, who will be stepping down as president next month to become the chancellor of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

“We felt this was the right time to present the gift for the media center,” said Salazar Escobedo, “to honor Sister and her efforts as she departs from the University.”