Alumni Association honors 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award winners

The St. Mary’s University Alumni Association will honor three graduates – Edward R. Boyle (B.B.A. ’71), Joseph D. Diaz, M.D. (B.A. ’79) and Sylvia Fernandez-Villarreal, M.D. (B.A. ’72) – at its annual Distinguished Alumni Dinner.

In addition, Thomas D. (B.B.A. ’88) and Leticia L. (B.A. ’89) Contreras will receive the President’s Gateway Award for Excellence in Advancement, which recognizes “an alumna or alumnus of St. Mary’s who has stepped up to lead an important fundraising initiative and/or has made a transformative gift to advance the University’s mission and promote excellence.”

The event will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, at the Omni San Antonio Hotel. The Distinguished Alumni Award is given each year to those individuals selected by the Awards and Recognition Committee of the Alumni Association.

Edward R. Boyle, Chief Financial Officer of Coates Energy, joined the Rho Beta Gamma fraternity and the ROTC program while at St. Mary’s. Upon graduating, he served as second lieutenant in the Army. Afterward, he was hired by Coates Energy and will celebrate 35th anniversary there in the spring. As an alumnus, Boyle became an Athletics Booster Club member and an Oyster Bake volunteer, serving in various roles over the years. He served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors for 12 years and on the St. Mary’s Board of Trustees for four. He says he’s proudest of re-establishing the Oysters & Pearls Scholarship Gala, which has raised close to $500,000 for the Alumni Association’s Scholarship Fund.

Joseph D. Diaz is President of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Associates of South Texas PA. He graduated summa cum laude from St. Mary’s in three years. Because of his passion for education, he teaches at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and serves as a mentor for a pre-professional course at St. Mary’s. During the past five years, Diaz has served on the Vision Committee and Advisory Council for the School of Science, Engineering and Technology. He is also the co-founder of a free asthma clinic, which features state-of-the-art equipment and board certified allergy professionals where several St. Mary’s undergraduate students volunteer twice a month during the academic year.

Sylvia Fernandez-Villarreal, CEO of Taos Clinic for Children and Youth, helped lay a strong foundation for female minorities when she enrolled at St. Mary’s in 1968, which had become co-ed in 1963. She was one of the few Latinas studying Biology. Upon graduating, the 10th generation San Antonian was accepted into medical school at Stanford University, and later, completed her internship, residency and chief residency at the University of Colorado in Denver. Now, after nearly four decades of practicing pediatrics, she and her four-person team see about 100 children per day, ranging in age from birth to 18 years old. Fernandez-Villarreal says it is important to provide optimum healthcare to children, whether the family can afford it or not.

Thomas and Leticia Contreras met while undergraduates at the original campus pub, which eventually closed in the early 1990s. With both of their children attending St. Mary’s in recent years, they noticed the absence of a similar gathering spot. They wanted to bring back that sense of community to campus and made a $1.12 million donation with $900,000 going toward the construction of The Pub, which opened Sept. 10. The remainder of their generous donation went towards the University’s golf team. Tom and Leti also provided $50,000 via Texas Security General Insurance Agency as a startup fund for Rattler Enterprises, a student-led business based in the Greehey School of Business.


St. Mary's University, founded in 1852, is the first institution of higher learning in San Antonio and the oldest Catholic university in the Southwest. It offers 75 programs, including doctoral and law programs, and has a diverse student population of about 3,800 of all faiths and backgrounds. Its vision, as a Catholic and Marianist liberal arts institution, is to become one of the finest private universities in the region, a gateway for graduates to professional lives as ethical leaders in Texas, the nation and the world.

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