Now comes the fun part.
University of Texas System officials, including those from the University of Texas at Brownsville and UT-Pan American in Edinburg, begin meeting this week to create the new identity of our new regional university. They will meet at UTPA today, and again on Thursday at UTB.
Among the issues they face:
What will be the mission statement for the new University of Texas Rio Grande Valley? Will it focus on the South Texas region it primarily will serve, or declare a wider scope that tells the world that this institution perceives no limits?
Will the new institution have unique school colors, or simply use the traditional burnt orange that officially applies to all UT campuses?
What will the school mascot be? Should they choose the UT-Pan American bronc, the UT Brownsville ocelot, or pick something else that avoids playing favorites while promoting the idea that UTRGV is something completely new?
And of course, they’ll have to hammer out the logistical challenges of spreading one institution across two main campuses more than 60 miles apart, including the structure and location of upper-level and research programs, athletics and student services.
At first look these might seem superficial matters, but this process is a key step in establishing UTRGV as a unique entity, and much depends on the decisions that will arise from these meetings.
Of course, establishing names and creating logos helps officials begin the groundwork for producing school catalogs and recruiting materials. Courses at the new institution begin in one short year; registration and financial aid offices will be running months before then. So the sooner these issues are hashed out, the better.
It’s a big deal that goes beyond simple name games. Once a clear identity is established, officials can begin the important outreach process that can bring public support and even investment to our new university and the region it serves.
This gestation process should be an exciting time for those involved, and for all those interested. We hope the discussions, and the inevitable suggestions from local officials, alumni and residents, are productive and free from any of the parochialism that at times has bogged down other regional endeavors.