Dr. Maria Hernandez Ferrier is the founding and President Emerita of Texas A&M University- San Antonio (TAMU-SA). On Friday, February 12, 2010, The Texas A&M System Board of Regents named Dr. Maria Hernandez Ferrier the inaugural president of Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Her history with the university began in April 2008 with her appointment as executive director when the institution was operating as a system center. The next year Ferrier was named interim president, and was the force behind the university’s unprecedented growth, its strategic plan and development to successfully become designated as a stand-alone institution of higher learning by both the state of Texas and SACSCOC, the national higher education accrediting body. She served as CEO of TAMU-SA from 2008-2015 and as the Director General of the A&M University System’s Relationship with Mexico. Prior to her career with the A&M University System, Ferrier held a number of national education appointments, such as the director of Bilingual Education & Minority Language Affairs.
In 2002, President George W. Bush appointed Ferrier Assistant Deputy Secretary in the Department of Education, where she served as the principal advisor to the Secretary of Education on all matters pertaining to limited-English proficient students, and Hispanics in general. Ferrier also advised businesses and organizations with an interest in building or expanding education partnerships as a liaison between chambers of commerce across the nation and the Department of Education. In 1992, President George H. Bush appointed her to the Commission for National and Community Service, where she served under both Presidents Bush and Clinton. Ferrier’s accomplishments include taking Texas A&M University-San Antonio through a very successful accreditation process and the development of a master plan including the mission architecture that now distinguishes the University.
Other accomplishments include the creation, development and/or implementation of many highly successful programs, such as City Year, a national service organization that became the model for the now federally-funded program known as AmeriCorps; the first elementary school chapter of Students Against Driving Drunk; Partners in Pride, the first in-school mentoring program in Texas; “Safety Kids”; Helping Academic Leadership Through Theater; the Community Resource Fair; Nimitz 50, a school/business partnership with Valero Energy Corporation; “The Nimitz Blue,” matching adjudicated youngsters with police officers serving as mentors; the Southwest ISD/Kelly AFB Mentoring Partnership; and the multi-district Partnership School for expelled and adjudicated youngsters. Many of these model programs have been replicated in other schools throughout the nation. Ferrier has been the recipient of numerous awards, including: the Golden Deeds Award from the Administrative Leadership Institute; San Antonio Hispanic Chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award; the San Antonio Silver Stars’ “Women of Inspiration” Award; San Antonio College Outstanding Former Student; San Antonio University Roundtable’s “Best and Brightest” Award; the Life of Idealism Award from City Year-San Antonio; the Hispanic Heritage Award from the Department of Labor; the “Point of Light” designation from the White House; the Minority Leadership Award from the National Community Education Association; and the Imagineer Award from the Mind Science Foundation She has also been the feature of several magazine highlights, including San Antonio Magazine’s “Women We Love” and Empresarios Magazine’s “Top 15 Women of San Antonio”. She has been inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame. In 1999, Our Lady of the Lake University chose Ferrier as the first Distinguished Visiting Professor for the doctoral program of the university’s Center for Leadership Studies. Ferrier served as the general editor for the Handbook on Choosing Your Child’s Education (2007), published by Focus on the Family, and provided the editor’s foreword for the, Arise & Ascend – A Woman’s Cry to Freedom (2009), published by Xulon Press. Ferrier was named the spokesperson for San Antonio’s No Kill campaign, “Talk About It,” whose mission is to reduce the number of healthy dogs and cats that are euthanized each year in the city.
Currently she is a Commissioner on the State’s Commission on Assessments and Accountability for Texas public schools. She also serves on the Boards of the Plaza Club, KIPP San Antonio Public Schools, the Center for Latino-Jewish Relations, the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame, and the San Antonio River Foundation. Ferrier earned a Bachelor of Arts in Speech and a Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling from Our Lady of the Lake University, and a Doctorate in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University-College Station.