|UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen, pictured back center, poses with inductees to UTPA's 50+ Club for graduates of the Class of 1962 and earlier. About 100 alumni and their loved ones attended the University's 50+ Reunion Luncheon Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012.|
During the luncheon, University officials presented the new class ring that was designed by current UTPA students and updated alumni on the institution's progress over the years. The University also inducted 20 former students from the Class of 1962 and earlier into its 50+ Club. “You’re the foundation of this great university,” said UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen. “We’ve got people from all over the place and we’re here because of this great university because of the foundation that was laid so long ago.”
Alumni flipped through old yearbooks and caught up with friends and former classmates. Former students traveled from as far as Virginia to see the campus, which has grown exponentially from when they attended then Pan American College.
"Some of my favorite moments were just about every day I came and saw my friends here," said Ramon Estevis (BA ’60), who played baseball for the Broncs. "We’re very grateful to Pan Am, so every moment is happy. Every time we come back by the campus and see its improvements of course we’re happy for everybody."
Like Estevis, many alumni said they were delightfully surprised to see how much their alma mater had grown from a brick building located east of the railroad tracks to the large campus to the west of those tracks today.
Don Frantz (’53), who lives in the Houston area, said he hasn't been back to the Rio Grande Valley since he left for dental school in 1954.
"What is incredible to me is that they can find this much land that close to the old campus," Frantz said.
Homecoming festivities continued that afternoon with the Bronc Madness Tailgate Party outside the Fieldhouse. About 1,000 people came to the campus to enjoy barbecue, music, classic cars and the company of fellow Broncs before the men's basketball team defeated the Chicago State University Cougars, 74-70.
Click here to see more of the 50+ Reunion Luncheon.