HARLINGEN, RGV – The new University of Texas Rio Grande Valley opens its door today and to celebrate the chancellor of the UT System Chancellor is paying a visit.
William McRaven will be at the Edinburg campus at 10 a.m. for a flag-raising ceremony on the north side of the Students Services Building. At 2 p.m. he will visit the Brownsville campus for a proclamation celebration in the Plumeria Courtyard. UTRGV President Guy Bailey will accompany McRaven on his visit.
The new university has been formed by collapsing UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville. “We can do things that the individual schools could not have achieved alone,” Bailey said. “UTRGV is going to bring people into the Valley, people who will love it and want to stay and make it their home.”
Information Desks have been set up at both the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses to help students with orientation. At 12 noon there will be a Toss for Luck event at both campuses. These will be held at the Main Water Fountain in Brownsville and the Chapel of the Lord’s Prayer Water Fountain in Edinburg. In what the university hopes will become a tradition, during the first week of class each semester, students toss a nickel into the water fountains to be granted good fortune in health, wealth, love, success, and friendship. The fountains, it is said, will be the keepers of generations of wishes from faculty, staff, and students.
Between 6 and 10 p.m. in the Main Courtyard in Brownsville and the Old Track and Field in Edinburg a Stomp will be held. This is the signature event that brings University departments, academic programs, student organizations, area merchants, and community service agencies together in a festive environment to welcome students during the first week of fall semester.
On Sunday, a cycling event was held to unite the two campuses and celebrate the legacy of UTPA and UTB. About 50 cyclists gathered near the Bronc statue on the Edinburg campus, while 88 riders assembled at the Main lawn of the Brownsville campus. Each group then headed out to meet up in the middle. It was dubbed Tour de Valley.
The two groups of cyclists met at the Iwo Jima Memorial on the campus of the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen. Then, together, they rode in solidarity to the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen, a central location for the UTRGV School of Medicine now awaiting accreditation.
Mercedes resident and cyclist Lisa Marie Treviño, 25, is a UTRGV senior majoring in biology and psychology. Treviño has taken advantage of all the higher education opportunities in the Valley, having attended Texas State Technical College and South Texas College before transferring to UTPA.
She started biking in June, and her enthusiasm for the sport led her to create a Facebook page called UTRGV Bike Trail. As she mounted her brightly lit Schwinn, she said the coming together would be emotional, and the ride shows that both campuses are one.
“We need unity. If we want to be known as The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, we want to appreciate both areas and celebrate Brownsville and Edinburg merging together,” said Lisa Marie Treviño, who participated in the cycling event. Treviño, 25, hopes to become a medical doctor.
Dr. Walter Diaz, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at UTRGV and former dean of UTPA’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, also participated in the bike ride. He said he rides every weekend because it is a fun activity.
“Today’s ride was special because it is symbolic,” Diaz said. “People are crossing most of the Valley, and it is a good way to reach out into the whole community. There are employees here, but many cyclists today who are not. It’s a good thing.”
Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell greeted the cyclists at the end of their journey. “Welcome to Harlingen, and more importantly, welcome to another campus of UTRGV,” Boswell said. “This bike ride symbolizes the coming together of the Valley and its many communities, including Northern Mexico. Your ride was like the Olympic torch, being carried from town to town, and now the torch will be lit on the new university, an innovative model of higher education.”