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Featured, from left: Dr. Guy Bailey, President, The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, and Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, at the International Trade and Technology Building, The University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, on Friday, May 16, 2014.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

With state legislation already filed that proposes students at The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley have the right to vote on the official athletics nickname for their school, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, wants the UT System Board of Regents to delay final approval of a multi-million dollar campaign that would include promoting Vaqueros (cowboys) as the national image of the deep South Texas university and medical school. The nine-member UT System governing board – which is welcoming two new regents for its Wednesday, February 11, and Thursday, February 12 public meeting in Austin – is scheduled to take a final vote for UT-RGV’s branding campaign, which will include projecting the controversial Vaqueros mascot and athletics nickname on a national level. However, thousands of alumni and students of UT-Pan American in Edinburg, which is the largest campus of UT-RGV, have protested the loss of the Bronc as their mascot and rejected the selection of Vaqueros as the new symbol of UT-RGV, prompting Canales to file House Bill 901 on Friday, January 29. In his hand-delivered letter to the UT System Board of Regents, dated Monday, February 9, Canales explained he is asking the regents to wait on “consideration on the branding of UT-RGV in order to allow for the university’s athletic nickname to be considered in an election by the full student body. I am writing this letter in support of the hundreds of students and constituents that have contacted my office, subsequent to the selection of the UT-RGV athletic nickname in November 2014.” The Vaqueros representation will be part of a $5 million, two-year marketing and communications initiative, approved by the Board of Regents in May 2014, to launch UT-RGV in the eyes of the world as a state-of-the-art, advanced institution of American higher education. “During this selection process, the future students of UT-RGV have contacted my office repeatedly to express their outrage at not having a voice in the process,” Canales wrote to the regents. “As you might be aware, House Bill 901, if passed, would require a student election to determine the UT-RGV athletic nickname. Again, I respectfully request that you delay further consideration of the athletic logo and word marks for UT-RGV until the students have had a chance to weigh in on this important issue.” Under HB 901, the students at UT-RGV – which also has campuses or facilities in Brownsville, McAllen, Harlingen, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island – would be able to vote on the official athletics nickname, which can be different from the mascot. HB 901 would place “Broncs,” “Ocelots” and “any other options the university chooses, including nicknames nominated by students and approved by the university,” on the ballot for the election, which would have to take place by December 31, 2015. “Ocelots” is the mascot and athletics nickname for UT-Brownsville. The UT-RGV administration, led by Bailey, would be responsible for holding the election. Separate from the letter, Canales said such a student election “would be a powerful lesson in democracy.” The complete agenda packet and live coverage – and archived broadcast coverage – of the meetings is available online at http://www.utsystem.edu/board-of-regents/meetings/board-meeting-2015-02-11

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UT System Regents asked by Rep. Canales to delay decision on using Vaqueros as athletics nickname

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

With state legislation already filed that proposes students at The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley have the right to vote on the official athletics nickname for their school, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, wants the UT System Board of Regents to delay final approval of a multi-million dollar campaign that would include promoting Vaqueros (cowboys) as the national image of the deep South Texas university and medical school.

The nine-member UT System governing board – which is welcoming two new regents for its Wednesday, February 11, and Thursday, February 12 public meeting in Austin – is scheduled to take a final vote for UT-RGV’s branding campaign, which will include projecting the controversial Vaqueros mascot and athletics nickname on a national level.

The Vaqueros representation will be part of a $5 million, two-year marketing and communications initiative, approved by the Board of Regents in May 2014, to launch UT-RGV in the eyes of the world as a state-of-the-art, advanced institution of American higher education.

However, thousands of alumni and students of UT-Pan American in Edinburg, which is the largest campus of UT-RGV, protested the loss of the Bronc as their mascot and rejected the selection of Vaqueros as the new symbol of UT-RGV, prompting Canales to file House Bill 901 on Friday, January 29.

CANALES: STUDENT ELECTION WOULD BE “POWERFUL LESSON IN DEMOCRACY”

In his hand-delivered letter to the UT System Board of Regents, dated Monday, February 9, Canales explained he is asking the regents “that you delay consideration on the branding of UT-RGV in order to allow for the university’s athletic nickname to be considered in an election by the full student body. I am writing this letter in support of the hundreds of students and constituents that have contacted my office, subsequent to the selection of the UT-RGV athletic nickname in November 2014.”

On November 6, 2014, the Board of Regents unanimously approved the recommendation of Dr. Guy Bailey, President of UT-RGV, to approve Vaqueros as the mascot and athletics nickname for the school.

“During this selection process, the future students of UT-RGV have contacted my office repeatedly to express their outrage at not having a voice in the process,” Canales wrote the regents. “As you might be aware, House Bill 901, if passed, would require a student election to determine the UT-RGV athletic nickname. Again, I respectfully request that you delay further consideration of the athletic logo and word marks for UT-RGV until the students have had a chance to weigh in on this important issue.”

Under HB 901, the students at UT-RGV – which also has campuses or facilities in Brownsville, McAllen, Harlingen, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island – would be able to vote on the official nickname, which can be different from the mascot.

HB 901 would place “Broncs,” “Ocelots” and “any other options the university chooses, including nicknames nominated by students and approved by the university,” on the ballot for the election, which would have to take place by December 31, 2015.

“Ocelots” is the mascot and athletic nickname for UT-Brownsville.

The UT-RGV administration would be responsible for holding the election.

NOT ALL UNIVERSITIES USE MASCOT AS THEIR ATHLETICS NICKNAME

A college nickname or mascot defines the school and the students who attend it, as well as the alumni and fans of each particular institution, according to SportsPageMagazine.com.

“It serves as a rallying cry and source of pride to all those affiliated with the school,” explained Loren Nauss, the magazine’s author of The Top 100 College Nicknames/Mascots Among NCAA Division I Schools. “Some schools only have a nickname, others have a nickname and mascot which are different, while the majority have a nickname and mascot which are the same.”

With a nickname and mascot with different names, UT-RGV would be in an elite class of major universities, Canales noted.

“In many universities throughout the nation, their mascot has a different name from the student body and its sports programs,” he illustrated. “Texas A&M’s mascot is a magnificent collie named ‘Reveille’, while everyone involved with the university are proudly known as ‘Aggies’.”

An Aggie is a student at Texas A&M University, according to the university’s website. In the early 1900s A&M students were referred to as Farmers. The term Aggie began to be used in the 1920s and in 1949, when the yearbook changed its name to Aggieland, Aggie became the official student body nickname.

“In our case, the UT System selected Vaqueros as the UT-RGV mascot, but under my proposal, the students who are enrolled on the first day that UT-RGV becomes a reality, would sometime during the Fall 2015 semester vote on what should be the official sports nickname, which will be how the world will come to know them and future generations,” Canales said.

“President Bailey, whose extensive credentials include serving as president of The University of Alabama, is intimately familiar with a major university having an athletics nickname and mascot name that are different,” Canales noted. “The University of Alabama’s mascot is an elephant named ‘Big Al’, but the school’s athletic nickname is ‘Crimson Tide’, which is what everyone in the country knows them by. That’s why allowing students to vote on UT-RGV’s athletic sports nickname is so very important.”

Under legislation in 2013 cosponsored by Canales, UT-Pan American, UT-Brownsville, and the UT Regional Academic Health Centers in Edinburg, Harlingen and Brownsville will be merged into one Valley-wide institution of higher education that will also feature a full-fledged medical school. Those actions are scheduled to take place in late summer 2015 and late summer 2016 respectively.

Perhaps as important, UT-RGV and its medical school now have access to the Permanent University Fund (PUF), a $14+ billion revenue source which is used to fund special construction projects, such as the UT-RGV medical school, for campuses which are part of the UT and A&M systems.

The Edinburg campus by far has the largest enrollment – 21,042 for the Fall 2014 semester – and physical size, while UT-RGV’s Brownsville campus had 8,015 students enrolled last fall semester.

The first two years of medical education at the UT-RGV School of Medicine will take place in Edinburg, next to the UT-RGV campus, with the third and fourth years taking place in Harlingen.

Efforts are currently underway, spearheaded by Doctors Hospital at Renaissance and the City of McAllen, to build a UT-RGV School of Medicine campus immediately across for the DHR network of hospitals, but in the McAllen city limits.

That McAllen campus, if approved by the UT System Board of Regents in the coming months, would feature 448,000-square-feet of medical graduate education, known as residencies, as well as science laboratories, clinical services, and medical faculty offices.

HIGHLIGHT OF CANALES’ HB 901

The university shall hold an election to select the athletics nickname of the university. The university shall include on the ballot: the “Broncs”; the “Ocelots”; and any other options the university chooses, including nicknames nominated by students and approved by the university.

The board shall designate as the athletics nickname of the university the nickname selected by a plurality vote of the students voting in the election held under Subsection (a). In case of a tie between nicknames receiving more votes than any other, the board shall designate the athletics nickname of the university by lot.

SECTION 2. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley shall hold the election required under Section 79.11(a), Education Code, as added by this Act, not later than December 31, 2015.

The board of regents of The University of Texas System shall make the designation required under Section 79.11(b), Education Code, as added by this Act, not later than May 31, 2015, for application beginning with the 2016 fall semester.

UT SYSTEM HISTORY, RECOMMENDATIONS ON USE OF VAQUEROS

In its memorandum to the UT System Board of Regents, which is part of the agenda packet prepared for the governing board, the top leadership of the UT System provided their perspectives on the use of Vaqueros.

Their memorandum follows:

The following proposed mascot has been approved by the Chancellor, the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and the Vice Chancellor for External Relations and is submitted for approval by the UT System Board of Regents in accordance with Regents’ Rules and Regulations, Rule 40801.

The process to select the colors and mascot for The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley (UT-RGV) began in July 2014. Over the course of four months, the UT System Office of External Relations, UT-RGV President Guy Bailey, and an external agency with significant national experience in developing collegiate and professional sports athletics branding worked with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the community members to gather input for ideas on an athletics nickname, colors, and mascot for the new university.

During that time, Bailey reviewed numerous suggestions, received input from over 15,000 survey responses, and spoke with many different groups across the Rio Grande Valley. Additionally, Bailey convened several representatives committees to offer ideas and comments. He took every opinion into consideration before making his final recommendation to the UT System Board of Regents.

On November 6, 2014, the Board of Regents unanimously approved Bailey’s recommendation to approve the Vaqueros as the athletic nickname for UT-RGV. Further, in acknowledgement of the uniqueness of the UT-RGV model of a new university, the board allowed UT-RGV to use two colors (blue and green) in addition to the UT System colors of orange and white rather than the one additional color allowed by Regents’ Rule 40801.

Following that approval, a new committee composed of students, faculty, and staff from UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan American was appointed by Bailey to take on the important task of determining the look of the Vaqueros, including how the nickname and colors would translate to team uniforms. Chris King, UT-RGV Athletics Director, served as chair for the committee and Eric Rickabaugh, owner of Rikabaugh Graphics, provided guidance.

The committee, which included professors of history and art, provided insight into the colors and the look of the Vaqueros, staying true to the historical significance. Rickabaugh used the committee’s feedback to create an array of potential designs,while also ensuring UT-RGV’s new brand as unique.

The final concepts were shared with the UT-RGV leadership team and focus groups that included UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan American students, head coaches, student athletes, alumni, and donors. The feedback gathered through these sessions was used to put the final touches on the new Vaqueros mark.

The final concept of the athletics branding initiative includes primary and secondary marks, a new Vaqueros mascot, and a custom font developed specifically for the department of intercollegiate athletics.

Upon approval by the UT System Board of Regents, a formal UT-RGV Vaqueros Brand Management Style Guide Manual and Licensing Sheet will be finalized. All marks are controlled under a licensing program administered by the UT System Office of Trademark Licensing and Strategic Marketing Affiliates. Any use of the marks will required written approval from Strategic Marketing Affiliates.

UT-RGV plans a public launch of the UT-RGV Vaqueros brand in early March 2015, pending Board of Regents’ approval.

Upon approval by the U. T. System Board of Regents, a formal UTRGV Vaqueros Brand Management Style Guide Manual and Licensing Sheet will be finalized. All marks are controlled under a licensing program administered by the U. T. System Office of Trademark Licensing and Strategic Marketing Affiliates. Any use of the marks will require written approval from Strategic Marketing Affiliates.

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