The University of Texas-Pan American began as Edinburg College in 1927. It was a two-year community college, with about 25 teachers, governed by the Edinburg School District.
Today UTPA is part of one of the nation's largest systems of public higher education. The University that began with a class of 200 now enrolls more than 19,000 students.
"Eighty-five years later and we now have over 50 bachelor's programs and over 50 master's programs. We have some doctoral programs and we are continuing to grow and transform," said Rebecca Gadson, assistant dean of students. "We are 85 years strong in the Rio Grande Valley."
To celebrate that milestone, the University is hosting a Founder's Day Picnic Saturday, Nov. 3 from 12-2 p.m. at the Quad.
"What a wonderful thing to do, to celebrate our founder's date. We want you to bring your blanket, bring your families and listen to music," Gadson said. "Enjoy some entertainment and some of the novelties we have on campus like caricatures, face painting, and photo booths. It's really meant to be a fun picnic day to celebrate UTPA."
The Sapphire Year celebration picnic is free and open to the public. Gadson said she hopes the campus community will come and honor the institution that has been a pillar of educational excellence in South Texas.
"It's really meant to be an informal, fun day to celebrate the fact that we have been here as a big part of the community for 85 years," Gadson said. "We have graduated over 70,000 students from UTPA since we opened its doors. That's a huge accomplishment and it would be great to see representation from our alumni, our currently enrolled students, our families of Broncs and local community members, supporters and fans of UTPA."
Antonio de la Cruz, an admissions counselor with the University, said after more than eight decades of promoting education in the Rio Grande Valley, the public should celebrate the institution's accomplishments.
"The University has contributed so much. It is amazing to go out into the community and see how many counselors, and superintendents and administrative professionals are actually UTPA alumni. You just hear of so many successful individuals who got their start here," de la Cruz said. "It's a great feeling to know how much of an impact our Broncs are making and we need to commemorate that."
Gadson said as UT Pan American celebrates the landmark date, the college will continue its mission to further the advancement of the region.
"Our mission is to transform the Valley. By 2022 we are looking at having a Valley population of over 1.5 million, and so reaching out to our community and talking to them about the opportunities that exist at UTPA to further their education is really transforming the future and landscape of the area," she said.
For more information on the Founder's Day Picnic or to request special accommodations, contact the University Program Board at (956) 665-7991.