UT System sorts through input on school name - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Posted: Friday, December 6, 2013 6:00 am

Between 40 and 50 name suggestions have been submitted to the University of Texas System for the new university in South Texas.

Staff in the Public Affairs Office at the system have been tallying more than 3,500 Facebook comments, 600 emails, 500 tweets and 171 voicemails for results, said UT System Spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said.

Those messages have accumulated since Nov. 11 when the system released five possible names and announced they would be soliciting help from the public as well, LaCoste-Caputo said.

The names released, then, are the University of Texas for the Americas, University of Texas Las Americas, University of Texas International, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and University of Texas South.

“Definitely the greatest support is for UTRGV,” LaCoste-Caputo said.

The second most liked name is UT South, she said.

“It’s interesting to see and hear people’s reasoning,” LaCoste-Caputo said. “A lot of people are giving really good arguments for their choice.”

Friday is the last day to submit name suggestions.

A list of all suggestions is being compiled and will likely be submitted to Board of Regent members by late Monday, LaCoste-Caputo said. The goal, she said, is to announce a name during the regents December meeting, which could be as early as late next week.

Julio León, a special advisor for Project South Texas who has the task of combining UT Brownsville with UT-Pan American, said the name will be important in order for the new school to carve out its identity.

“If it were to be a name that implied the region, for instance, it would be helpful for that respect,” León said. “Other options have global implications like UT for the Americas and Las Americas. That would give it a different identity, but also an important one.”

León said whatever the name regents use should be inclusive to both UTB and UTPA communities.

“If the regents were to choose UT Brownsville as the name of the university it would make one important faction of the region not happy and although I don’t think it would happen it certainly wouldn’t be helpful,” León said.

“No one knows what the regents will choose,” León added.

We wanted lots of feedback and we got it, LaCoste-Caputo said.

“I think it took one of my team members three full work days to go through emails... If you email, rest assured it was read and tallied,” she said.

Nineteen of the phone messages were in Spanish, while the remaining 152 were in English, she said.

Although social media websites like Facebook and Twitter once belonged to the young and technologically savvy, use by older adults has increased over time. In May 2013, 43 percent of people aged 65 and older used some form of social media, while 60 percent of people aged 50 to 64 years old also used it, according to research by the Pew Research Center.

“It’s not just a young person genre anymore,” LaCoste-Caputo said.

“That’s what social media was made for — for public engagement,” she added.

Continuing with the use of social media, UT System officials will answer questions about the new name through Twitter with the use of the hashtag #newUTchat on Friday. A hashtag conveys the subject a user is tweeting about and should be included in the 140-character message with the number sign. The Twitter chat will run from 1 to 1:30 p.m.

“It’s about the naming process, but they are welcome to ask any other questions about the new university,” La-Coste Caputo said.

Regardless of which name is chosen, León said the most important part of the university are the guiding principles that will help the school evolve.

“The names will be an important complement to what the new university will be, but it’s not more important than the academics,” he said. “There is a lot of promise for the future in this new university.”

mmontoya@brownsvilleherald.com

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