As the University of Texas Board of Regents decide the name of the new South Texas institution Thursday, students at the University of Texas at Brownsville and UT-Pan American in Edinburg will be watching.
UTB President Juliet V. Garcia said the naming of the institution, which will include assets of both UTPA and UTB, is a historic process that students should witness.
“It’s going to be one of those very memorable historical moments they can look back and say either I was there or I wasn’t,” Garcia said.
Garcia said she will be in Austin on Thursday for the meeting.
“I want to be present when that decision is made,” Garcia said. “We all have played a small role in the evolution of this new university. I think it’s appropriate that we see it through.”
Garcia said she, like everyone else, has a preference for the name, but didn’t want to disclose it.
In November, the UT System shared five possible names for the school and asked for community feedback as well as ideas. The community responded by commenting on Facebook posts, tweets, emails and phone calls.
According to the UT System, an estimated 22,000 people were reached through Face-book posts, and more than 500 people on Twitter responded to the campaign.
After tallying those votes, the UT System said that the most popular names were the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, the University of Texas-South and UTPA.
UTPA was not previously in the proposed list of names, but a system spokeswoman said there was an outpouring of support for UTPA from students and alumni.
Garcia said the fact that UTPA found itself on the list means that the UT System listened to the community input.
“That’s the thing you get into when you ask somebody for advice,” Garcia said. “You get it.”
UTPA President Robert Nelsen said he is looking forward to the decision.
“I’ll just be glad when I don’t get asked that question again,” Nelsen said jokingly during an interview on Monday. “I think it’s the easiest thing to fixate on. You want a sense of identity, and everyone wants to have that.”
According to the UT System, this is the general response to the three most popular choices:
➤UT-RGV: Those who support this name say it will bring pride to the Rio Grande Valley, and it makes the most sense, considering the geographic area the university represents and the fact that the names of existing UT institutions all have geographic names.
➤UT-South: Those who like the name say it is a short name that packs a lot of power and sounds prestigious.
➤UTPA: Some noted that this name is not limited to a specific areas and that UTB was once a branch campus of UTPA.
At UTB, the watch party will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday at Casa Bella Clubhouse. According to the meeting agenda, the decision will be made just before 10 a.m. The screening of the meeting is open to students, faculty, staff and members of the community, according to a UTB release.