UIW Reflects on History and Celebrates Employees on Heritage Day

October 13, 2023

The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) has been an evolving presence in San Antonio for nearly 150 years, passionately serving its students and community. Within that time, the University has had the privilege of aiding a diverse history of students in receiving an education and supporting them in achieving their dreams. In the fall of 2023, the University welcomed its largest First Time in College class in its history. As much as UIW has grown and as far as its reach has expanded, every year, the University community celebrates Heritage Day, a time to reflect on the fact that what stands here today is all because of three courageous Sisters who arrived in Texas in 1869.

Sisters Madeleine Chollet, Pierre Cinquin, and Agnes Bisson were asked by Bishop Claude M. Dubuis to leave their French homelands to travel to Texas with the mission of aiding those in need during the cholera epidemic. This mission led to the creation of the city’s first hospital, Santa Rosa Infirmary.

However, their efforts did not stop at health care. The Sisters also aided in the founding of an orphanage, schools, and eventually Incarnate Word College in 1881. In the year 1996, "the college,” as it is affectionately remembered by alumni, was officially recognized as the University of the Incarnate Word.

The school and its enriching history have been contributed to by thousands of employees with hearts for others, each of whom have left their unique mark. On October 11, UIW honored nearly 150 of these individuals by recognizing their contributions to the University and its students throughout their years of service. Employees recognized at the annual Heritage Day Ceremony were celebrated for reaching milestone years of service, from five to 35 years of service.

Dr. Kathleen Bottaro, assistant provost for the Office of Teaching, Leaning, and Technology, has been serving at UIW for five years, and the University has already left a lasting impact on her.

“I love the people at UIW,” shared Bottaro. “I work primarily with faculty, staff, and administrators and deeply admire what they do and how passionate they are in their work. It makes coming to work every day a pleasure. I am also thankful for the UIW Mission and its guidance as we make decisions, interact with each other, and serve students. It is a blessing to me.”

Within her 5 years, just like the founding Sisters, she too has experienced a pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic required adjustment, attentiveness, and resilience from UIW employees as they adapted to provide students with the best quality education possible.

Bottaro reflected on the admirable strides her colleagues took during those uncertain times. Even now after the initial impact of the pandemic, she still acknowledges the efforts being made continuously on campus.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, I see UIW adopting successful strategies and processes borne of the pandemic. So, in many ways, things have changed since I arrived in 2018, but the heart of the University, the Mission, remains serving as the beacon for all we do.”

While Bottaro was honored for her five years of service to the University, three UIW members were celebrating 35 years of service.

Mary Jinks, director of Library Technical Services, has witnessed a lot during her time here. She has watched the University’s library system grow from one library on the Broadway campus to a total of five libraries at various UIW locations. In addition, she has had the privilege of overseeing the purchase of every book in each Health Professions library and every book to support the PhD programs.

Dr. Amalia Mondriguez, professor of Spanish Language, Literature, and Culture is extremely proud of her students’ professional and personal achievements. She has watched them become Spanish teachers and professors, school principals, pharmacists, optometrists, physicians and lawyers, among other wonderful professions. Her impact can be witnessed in each of her students, past and present, who live the UIW Mission in their everyday lives. Mondriguez has been recognized for this impact with several honors and awards over the years, including the Incarnate Word Mission in Education Palmer Award in 2009 and the CCVI Spirit Award in 2016. She was also featured in the book, Great Lives in History: Latinos.

Finally, Dr. David Jurenovich, began his career at Incarnate Word College as Dean of Student Services and quickly moved to positions of leadership as a Vice President. In 2020, he moved to the role of Senior Philanthropic Advisor before assuming his current role of Director of Development for the College of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences. He has also taught part-time throughout his tenure at UIW.

Within this time frame, he has had the privilege to help develop the school and enlighten eager students. “It begins with and ends with the people; the students, the faculty and staff,” he shared. “Over the years, I've been blessed to serve with the students that I’ve been blessed to get to know, and to serve through leadership.”

He reflected on his initial time here at UIW, and the growth he feels blessed to have witnessed and been part of. From the founding of the School of Osteopathic Medicine, Feik School of Pharmacy and School of Physical Therapy, to the introduction of division one football at the University and more, he has watched UIW evolve from its small beginning to impressive present.

Despite all the change that has taken place on campus, he says that the University’s Mission to serve has never been lost.

“Our biggest everyday challenge is to continue to grow, evolve, and expand but to never lose sight (of who we are).”

Jurenovich is also the proud father of two sons that attend UIW, whom he refers to as his success stories, Christian and Matthew Jurenovich. His years of service have helped to give his boys and the rest of the student body a college experience that is sure to be cherished for a lifetime. To him, the UIW family is one and the same as his own family.

Bottaro and Jurenovich are two of many selfless individuals who contribute to the legacy of UIW as it continues to honor its history and continuously strive towards a better future. This Heritage Week, the entire UIW community takes pause to thank and celebrate each of them.

For more information on UIW’s heritage and history, click here.