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Statement from Chairman Paul Foster, Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Pedro Reyes

The University of Texas System Board of Regents and the UT System administration fully support President Guy Bailey in his recommendation to make the “Vaqueros” the athletic nickname for The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

We understand that that there has been push-back to the decision and that is something we anticipated. Athletic nicknames are highly personal to many, including students and alumni, and we fully respect the fact that this is an emotional issue. However, we strongly believe it is important for UTRGV to have its own identity. We will honor the legacies of UT Brownsville and UT Pan American, but we need to move forward. The legislation that created UTRGV calls for the dissolution of UTB and UTPA and the creation of a new university. Vaqueros is a nickname for a new institution – not a merger or a name change for the UTPA mascot.

The vaquero and vaquera represent the tenacity, perseverance, intelligence and ambition of all who settled the Old West. Both men and women played an equal role in the proud pioneering history of Texas and the nicknames vaqueros and vaqueras for men’s and women’s teams honor that revolutionary spirit.

On the grounds of the Texas Capitol stands the Tejano Monument, erected in 2012 to acknowledge and pay tribute to the rich contributions of Tejanos to Texas history. Among the life-sized statues depicting the early Spanish pioneers who settled Texas is a vaquero. This is an iconic figure that laid the foundation for the North American cowboy and cowboy culture – something that has become the single most recognizable trait identified worldwide with the United States. Like Dr. Bailey and historians and faculty who have recently published editorials on this topic, we agree that this is a point of great pride.

President Bailey has been charged with the Herculean task of establishing a university and medical school which will soon be on its way to becoming an emerging research institution. He is a proven leader with extensive experience at the helm of large research institutions and we are proud to have selected him as UTRGV’s first president. Dr. Bailey is doing an exemplary job and he has our unequivocal support. It is our sincere hope that everyone who stands to benefit from the extraordinary opportunities that UTRGV will provide will support Dr. Bailey in this important endeavor. Already, investments have poured into South Texas as a result of the creation of UTRGV, and we are well on our way to creating centers of excellence in health care and research. We urge everyone to remain focused on the ultimate goal for UTRGV and its immeasurable impact on transforming our state and nation.

About The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 in a historic move that will combine the resources and assets of UT Brownsville and UT Pan American and, for the first time, make it possible for residents of the Rio Grande Valley to benefit from the Permanent University Fund. The institution will also be home to a School of Medicine and will transform Texas and the nation by becoming a leader in student success, teaching, research and healthcare. UTRGV will enroll its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine will open in 2016.

About The University of Texas System

Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking research and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States, with nine academic universities, six health institutions and an enrollment of more than 214,000. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public universities in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $15.6 billion (FY 2015) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With about 90,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.