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Centennial campaign officially launched

Published: Thursday, September 16, 2010

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05

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Bob Corral

The Marching Miners band files into Magoffin Auditorium after the convocation Sept. 14 as confetti falls from the ceiling.

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Esteban Marquez

Diana Natalicio presents Woody Hunt, philanthropist, with UTEP’s President’s Medal at the convocation.

UTEP President Diana Natalicio publicly announced the centennial fundraising goal of $200 million, which is half-way reached, and thanked faculty and staff at the annual Fall Convocation Sept. 14 in Magoffin Auditorium.

In the State of the University address Natalicio talked more about the future than the past. In discussing the centennial campaign, Natalicio brought up the issue of finance.

"I suspect there's not a self-respecting university anywhere that has celebrated its 100th birthday without conducting a fundraising campaign," Natalicio said. "And UTEP is pleased to be a part of that proud tradition. We confidently inaugurate the public phase of UTEP's fundraising campaign, which we call At the Forefront: The Centennial Campaign For UTEP."

She said that 100 members will serve on the centennial committee, including Vice-Chairman of the University of Texas System Board of Regents Paul Foster as the honorary chair. Other members are UTEP alumni and patrons of the university.

"Thanks again in advance for the wonderful work that we know you will do in increasing awareness of UTEP's rich past, present and future and making UTEP's 100th anniversary a memorable, meaningful and enjoyable celebration," Natalicio said.

She said that numerous individuals have contributed $100 million during the past three years, which is allocated for an academic research and student support endowment, expansion of campus infrastructure and enhancement of academic and athletic programs.

"Given our fundraising progress, we confidently and proudly announce that by the end of UTEP's 100th anniversary celebration in 2014 we will reach a centennial campaign goal of $200 million," Natalicio said.

However, she admitted that the economy is not favorable for extravagant fundraising events.

"Typically a major university fundraising campaign occurs with a gala dinner event, and that was initially proposed," Natalicio said. "But given the current economic climate, we decided that good stewardship of UTEP resources call for a more modest approach for launching the campaign."

She explained that there are flexible ways of contributing to the centennial.

"In many cases the donor can designate what they would like for us to spend the money on. So, if someone is particularly interested in scholarships, they can tell us, ‘I'd like my money to go for scholarships,' and we say, ‘OK, great.'" Natalicio said. "If on the other hand they say, ‘What do you think?' then we give them a kind of menu to see what interests them. And if someone wants to just give us money to use at our discretion, then that's wonderful too,"

Another unique aspect of the event included Natalicio presenting the first UTEP President's medal, which went to philanthropist Woody Hunt.

"This award represents the highest honor bestowed on those UTEP friends and supporters whose achievements, contributions and services have had a powerful impact on this university and its mission," Natalicio said.

A bulk of the meeting also went toward recognition of long-serving faculty and staff. At the event, those who served five to 45 years went on stage to shake Natalicio's hand and receive a certificate.

"All of us at UTEP know that working on a university campus is a very special privilege. When our students succeed, we share the joy of their success and know that their success means that UTEP is succeeding too," Natalicio said. "We thank all our faculty and staff for everything they do for UTEP and our students."

Flora Guevara received the 35-year recognition for serving veterans at the Registration and Records office.

"What kept me going for so many years were the many people who inspired me, especially the veterans and active duty members," Guevara said. "They personally touched my life because of the sacrifices they have done in serving our country. Plus, I was very fortunate to have caring supervisors."

The climax of the convocation occurred at the end when an eruption of orange, blue and silver-colored confetti from cannons filled the air and balloons fell onto the stage. UTEP's marching band entered the auditorium, performing in the aisles as the audience stood and clapped to the music. At the beginning of the event, the Music Department's Drum Line performed at the entrance of the auditorium, welcoming the guests.

Javier Grajeda, sophomore chemistry major, said he attended the event on his own initiative.

"I came to show Miner spirit and support. It was really inspirational to see what UTEP is doing for the student body," Grajeda said. "I like the fact that they're raising money to improve the educational level by focusing on research and bringing in and maintaining faculty."

Gerry Portee, who graduated from UTEP 60 years ago with a business degree, attended the convocation for the first time.

"I thought this was absolutely marvelous. I'm looking forward to all the things that are coming up," Portee said. "I think it's absolutely necessary, and I plan to contribute in small ways, not in the million dollar ways."

Deki Thinlay was invited to the convocation as foreign student from Bhutan. She's studying for her master's degree in communication.

"It was pretty interesting to see people being honored and given recognition, and as students, we try to achieve that," Thinlay said. "I think UTEP is one of those universities that really gives opportunities to foreign students. This is a scholarly and exciting place that gives hope to students like me."

To help celebrate the announcement of the centennial campaign, guests walked out to see stilt walkers and costumed characters perform. As these circus-like performers danced to music, guests helped themselves to cotton candy, snow cones, popcorn and lemonade.

Anoushka Valodya may be reached at prospector@utep.edu.

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