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Richard Castro honored with Texas Higher Education Distinguished Service Award

Sunday, March 28, 2021

El Paso businessman and Texas State University Distinguished Alumnus Richard Castro has been honored with the Texas Higher Education Distinguished Service Award for outstanding service to higher education in Texas.

The award is presented annually by the Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors, the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas and the Texas Association of Community Colleges.

“Richard's extraordinary contributions and service to higher education in Texas spans institutions, systems, and regions,” said Texas State President Denise M. Trauth. “He has made generous gifts to endowed scholarship funds supporting Texas State students in the liberal arts and in athletics. He understands that scholarships enable so many of our students to achieve a college education and fulfill their families’ dreams.”

Castro was instrumental in creating HACER, the Hispanic American Commitment to Educational Resources scholarship program. One of the largest college scholarship programs for Hispanic students in the nation, HACER has awarded more than $28 million to students since its inception. He also helped found, and currently serves as chair, of CREED, the Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development. CREED is an educational advocacy organization committed to helping El Paso County high school students increase postsecondary attainment and close gaps in student achievement.

Castro is a Texas State University Hero, a title given to individuals and organizations that give $1 million or more to the university. He has made significant gifts to the university in support of academic and athletic student scholarships. In 2020, he donated $100,000 to support students financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In recognition of his gifts, the Richard A. Castro Legacy Club in the University Events Center and the Richard A. Castro Undergraduate Admissions Center were named in his honor.

A child of immigrants who settled in Del Rio, Castro earned his B.A. in history from Texas State in 1970 and became a teacher in the Eagle Pass Independent School District. He later served as city administrator for Del Rio from 1972 to 1980 before becoming a McDonald’s franchise owner in 1983. Castro became the company’s largest Hispanic owner/ operator with 27 restaurants in Texas and more than 1,000 employees. Sensing an opportunity to appeal to his West Texas clientele, he developed the breakfast burrito and convinced the chain to offer it nationwide. In 2020, he was presented with the Fred L. Turner Golden Arch Award, given to the top 1% of McDonald’s owner/operators worldwide each year to recognize their dedication to customer service, business achievement and community involvement. Castro was named 2005

Hispanic Businessman of the Year by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and won the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce Chairman’s Community Support Award that same year. He received the 2011 Faces of Diversity Award from the National Restaurant Association. In 1997, Castro was named a Texas State Distinguished Alumnus and in 2013 he received a Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from the College of Liberal Arts.

The Texas Higher Education Distinguished Service Award was established by the Association of Texas Colleges and Universities in 1977. Since 2008, CPUPC, ICUT and TACC have administered the award. For more information, contact Rissa McGuire, CPUPC executive director, at rmcguire@cpupc.org. Article submitted by Texas State University

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