11 December 2013

New uni, same as the old uni? A last look at possible names

I get to find out the next university I’ll be working at tomorrow! The name of the new south Texas university is being announced tomorrow morning here on campus. I’m excited.

One paper reports former Texas politician Roberto Gutiérrez has been plugging for the name of the new university to be the same as my current university: The University of Texas-Pan American. The Brownsville Herald reports that UTPA has been put back into the running due to community requests.

I don’t agree with the arguments by Gutiérrez, though. According to the article, the main reason to keep the name is “devalue the diplomas of upwards of 70,000 alumni.” Unfortunately, if changing the name is devaluing a degree, then someone is losing out. What about alumni with degrees from UT Brownsville? Admittedly, there are fewer of them than UTPA graduates, but they deserve consideration, too.

The Twitter feed has for the #ProjectSouthTX hashtag has seen a lot of negative reactions to this. Words like “insulting,” “unfair,” “appalled,” “sneaky,” “disgrace” are being tossed around.

Another politician is plugging for “UT Las Americas,” citing “the bigger picture.” As I said before, being ambitious is fine, but we are, and will remain for a long time, a regional university.

Still, idea has some merit. The University of Texas at Brownsville used to be part of Pan Am. So there is an argument that creating a new university of the two represents a re-integration of the two campuses, and the thread of continuity can be traced through the main Pan Am campus.

Another point in favour of keeping UTPA is the UT System seems to be favouring something concerning the “Americas”. They had “of the Americas” in the background when they announced the formation of the new university, and two of the proposed new names incorporate “Americas” in some way.

The politicians have also been very clear that they consider this a new university, not a merger. Indeed, the bill says the two existing universities shall be “abolished.” I don’t see any way that they will let the current name stay.

Apparently, the lead contenders for the name are UT Rio Grande Valley (first poll results from here; second from The Monitor; third from Valley Central) and UT South.

I’ve already argued why I think it should be UTRGV.

Related posts

Naming a new university

External links

Gutiérrez petitions UT System regents to keep name The University of Texas-Pan American for new Valley-wide university
UT System sorts through input on school name
UT Regents to name new university on Thursday
UTPA, UTB plan watch parties Thursday for naming of new university
New university name battle causes dispute


Unknown said...

UT-Brownsville was never a part of UTPA. There was once a Panam at Brownvsille operation, but it was dissolved when the two UT components were created in 1990. This belief that UTB was once part of UTPA persists, but it is a myth.

Zen Faulkes said...

William: The history of the institutions is convoluted, and I don’t have first hand knowledge of it. I freely admit that I’m just going by wiki, which says, “in 1991 the University of Texas Pan-American at Brownsville became the University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB)”. That indicates continuity, even if “officially” there was no link.

Similarly, while the politicians may insist this is a new university, with the same buildings, faculty, etc., there will be continuity between UTB and UTPA and the new university, even if officially they never were part of the plan.