The University Program Board hosted the Founder’s Day celebration Sept. 9 to commemorate UTPA’s 87 years as a university and to celebrate Bucky the Bronc’s final birthday, before UTPA merges with the University of Texas at Brownsville to become the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. As it stands right now, the Bronc mascot looks like a goner.
An obstacle course, a Velcro wall jump, and three moon jumps were some of the attractions available to students on the Quad from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., free of charge, along with activities such as a ring-toss, free food, and a DJ. About 10 members of the University’s Pre-Medical/Bio-Medical Society (PMBMS) and approximately eight Student Government Association members served free food and attended the activity stations.
Founder’s Day is an annual birthday celebration to commemorate the founding of Edinburg College in 1927 which later evolved into UTPA in 1988.
While celebrating Bucky’s birthday, some students were concerned as to what was going to happen to him after UTRGV opens next fall. There has been much turmoil, especially on social media, over the pending transition from the perspective of mascot and colors. Nursing major Bianca Partida said she doesn’t want to see the Bronc leave.
“I’m gonna miss our mascot. I don’t think they should get rid of him,” said the 20-year-old from Edinburg. “It was my dream to graduate as a UTPA Bronc, but now I have to accept that I will graduate under a different name with a different mascot and different colors.”
Other students had a positive outlook on the future university, such as freshman women’s soccer team member Jessica Suarez.
“I’m just excited to (see) the change,” said Suarez, a pre-med biology major from Edinburg. “I don’t know much about UTPA yet since I am a freshman, but I’m excited to see what’s coming.”
Suarez’s teammate, freshman Zinnia Hannig, shared the same excitement on the transition and said she enjoyed the activities and food at the event.
“It was fun to come out here and work off the food that I ate and I’m excited to see the transition because the school’s gonna be bigger, there’s going to be more people here and there’s going to be more fans at our games,” said Hannig, a forward from El Paso, Texas.
UPB Chair Ernesto Espinoza Jr. helped organize the event and says he feels optimistic about the change.
“I can see that it’s a lot of mixed feelings because… it is sad to let go of Bucky and being a Bronc,” the senior said. “But at the same time I see all the greatness UTRGV has to offer and we have to stay positive and only look forward and see all the greatness it will bring.”
Associate Vice President/Dean of Students Mari Fuentes-Martin sang Bucky’s last “Happy Birthday” song accompanied by about 40 students while volunteers passed out cake.
“Well it’s bittersweet… I think there’s a lot of pride at UTPA in a way where it’s affected so many people and I think people love Bucky,” she said. “Let’s finish Bronc strong.”