|EDINBURG, November 23 - State Sen. Juan Hinojosa, who authored the bill to create a new university in the Rio Grande Valley, has offered the UT System his suggestion for what the institution should be called.
In a letter to UT System Chairman Paul L. Foster, Hinojosa, a Democrat from McAllen, said he has heard from many of his constituents and the majority view is the new university should be called UT Rio Grande Valley.
“At your invitation, I am writing to express the thoughts of our constituents who have contacted our office with regards to the new name,” Hinojosa wrote, in a letter sent to Foster on Nov. 21. “Of course, we would happily embrace the name of UT Pan American, but given that our options are limited, the vast majority has expressed the opinion of naming the new university UT Rio Grande Valley.”
In the letter, Hinojosa says UT Rio Grande Valley, or UT RGV, provides for a “much more regional approach” and “encompasses all of the Valley and our various counties and communities.” He said it “evokes pride in the people of the Valley and keeps the traditions of UT- Brownsville and UT- Pan American.”
Hinojosa also said the name UT Rio Grande Valley “represents the many communities and cultures joining together with common focus and direction.” As the Valley “aligns as a community and embraces a one regional Valley mindset,” Hinojosa said, “the name UT RGV best exemplifies our unity and the long awaited transformation of the Valley through education.”
Hinojosa added that the creation of the new university and an accompanying four-year medical school is a “historic opportunity” that will provide “endless educational and healthcare benefits” for Valley families as well Texas as a whole. “It has turned a longtime dream into a reality. Similarly, the name of the new university should reflect the communities and people of the Rio Grande Valley who have worked so hard to finally have a seat at the table and to see a name representative of our region,” Hinojosa said.
Earlier this month, the UT System announced five possible names for its new university in South Texas. The five names are: UT Rio Grande Valley, UT for the Americas, UT Las Americas, UT International and UT South. The System’s board of regents will choose the name, possibly before the end of the year. However, the System has asked the public for its views. The residents of South Texas can call or email or send messages via social media but the responses must be received by Dec. 6.
Those with a suggested name for the new university can tweet via @utsystem using the hashtag #ProjectSouthTX. They can also provide feedback via Facebook by liking UT System at www.facebook.com/utsystem. They can also email their thoughts at projectsouthTX@utsystem.edu. And they can call at 512-499-4473.
Supporters of the name “UT Rio Grande Valley,” like Sen. Hinojosa, believe it will help unify the region. In the past, some have criticized city and economic development leaders for a “Friday Night Football” mentality, of putting local, city, interests before the region as a whole.
However, it could be argued that the name “UT Rio Grande Valley” fails to evoke an image of the much larger canvas the new university could be operating on. For example, the new university will likely draw students from further afield that the four-county (Hidalgo, Cameron, Starr and Willacy) Valley region. The new university could also appeal to Latin America, especially if it adopts the “bi-cultural, bilingual, bi-literate” approach UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa has talked about.
UTPA President Robert Nelsen spoke about the new university when he gave the closing remarks at the 3rd Annual Border Economics, Development and Entrepreneurship Symposium 2013, held at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance on Friday.
With regard to the name of the new university, Nelsen said: “We have a new university. It has got to have a new name. They (the UT System) put five names up but a lot of people have come up with other names. One of them, we absolutely don't want and that is University of Texas International, because of the acronym, UTI.” Some women in the audience started to chuckle at that. “The women get it. Okay, guys, just ask them what it stands for.” Nelsen was referring to Urinary Tract Infection.
Nelsen said the most important thing is not the name of the university but what it is going to do for the region. “What's in a name, Shakespeare said. What's really important is serving you. It's helping entrepreneurs to build this Valley up, to get more jobs in the Valley, to end poverty in the Valley, to provide healthcare for everyone, to offer services.”
Nelsen did, however, explain the rationale for naming the university UT for the Americas. “The reason that name, University of Texas for the Americas, is there is because we will be reaching out to Mexico, to Latin America, it will be one of the most important elements of the new university.” He said the new university would be “bilingual, bi-literate, and bi-cultural.”