Former executive director of the B3 Institute at UTRGV joins MOSTHistory

The Board of Trustees of the Museum of South Texas History is pleased to announce the recent hiring of Francisco Guajardo as the museum’s new Chief Executive Officer.

Guajardo, of Edinburg, Texas, is the former executive director for the B3 Institute at the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley.

“The museum has been blessed with excellent executive leadership over the years, and we are very pleased to welcome Francisco to the museum,” said Juancarlo Rendon, the chairman of the Museum Board of Trustees. “He brings unique skills and talents that will help take the museum to the next level.”

The new CEO assumed his role at MOSTHistory on Sept. 3.

Guajardo was born and raised on both sides of the Texas-Mexico borderland. He attended Edcouch-Elsa schools in rural South Texas and the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in history and a doctorate in educational administration.

Guajardo taught high school and developed innovative curricular programs at Edcouch-Elsa ISD between 1990 and 2002. Thereafter he began his tenure at the University of Texas—Pan American (now University of Texas Rio Grande Valley) where he became a full-time professor and the C. Bascom Slemp Endowed Chair in Education. At UTRGV he was the founding executive director of the B3 Institute, a university wide office tasked with transforming UTRGV into a bilingual, bicultural and biliterate institution. Guajardo has managed three multimillion-dollar federal grants and authored or co-authored more than 50 academic articles and three books, including “Reframing Community Partnerships in Education” (2016) and “Ecologies of Engaged Scholarship” (2018).

Guajardo views MOSTHistory as “a key institution that represents the history of what South Texas has been, and the possibilities of what it can be.” As a son of the Texas-Mexico borderland, he is intensely proud of the culture and heritage of South Texas and believes the Valley is the crossroads of the Americas.

Guajardo succeeds Shan Rankin, who led the museum as its executive director for more than 30 years. During her tenure, the museum became accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and grew from a small county museum into a widely respected regional history museum. Under her leadership, the museum engaged in multiple capital campaigns that acquired adjacent properties, developed a museum complex that now occupies more than a city block and restored the museum’s cornerstone 1910 Hidalgo County Jail building. Since Rankin arrived, more than $43 million has been raised to operate and expand the museum and its services to the community.

“These achievements were accomplished because of close board and staff collaboration, and community support for these efforts,” Rankin said. “Local governments, along with state and national foundations, supported the mission, and the result is that museum visitors consistently say that MOSTHistory is one of the best museums they have seen.”

For three decades, Rankin helped the Museum Board of Trustees preserve and share the borderland heritage of South Texas and northeastern Mexico.

“Shan grew this museum exponentially with the support of the Board of Trustees, Heritage Associates, FRIENDS of MOSTHistory and community and local government leaders,” Rendon said. “On behalf of the museum board, I would like to thank Shan for all that she’s accomplished to advance the museum’s mission to preserve and present the borderland heritage of South Texas and northeastern Mexico. We hope her involvement with MOSTHistory continues.”

“It has been a joy to lead the museum these many years,” Rankin said. “To come to work every day to do something good for our community and the generations to come, to generate pride in who we are as South Texans has been fulfilling and rewarding. I am deeply grateful to have worked alongside many exceptionally talented people and to have had the good fortune to make many friends along the way. I wish Francisco every success as he takes the reins of this wonderful institution and am pleased to be able to work with him to accomplish a smooth transition. I hope our community and our donors will continue to strongly support the museum and that new supporters will join the effort to help keep the museum going and growing. The Museum of South Texas History is the community storehouse of our regional identity, full of artifacts and documents that preserve and tell our stories to present and future generations—and I firmly believe wonderful stories are still to come!”

An Evening with FRIENDS to welcome Guajardo and celebrate Rankin’s legacy will be held at the museum on Sept. 26.