Q&A with Laura Biggs, the New President for the UTEP Alumni Association
Last Updated on October 07, 2019 at 12:00 AM
Originally published October 07, 2019
By UC Staff
Laura E. Biggs, a retired civil employee of the Department of Defense, began her term as president of The University of Texas at El Paso Alumni Association on Sept. 1, 2019.
Biggs earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from UTEP in 1996. She was first named to the UTEP Alumni Association Board of Directors in 2011. In that time, she has held many positions on the board including Vice President for Chapters and Networks, treasurer and chair of the 2019 Top Ten Seniors Selection Committee.
In her new role, Biggs vows to work with UTEP President Heather Wilson to engage UTEP’s alumni base throughout the world.
Q: You’re taking the helm of the UTEP Alumni Association at a time of transition for UTEP, with a new president. How do you plan on working with the new administration to accomplish your shared goals?
A: The Alumni Association will continue to support and align its goals with those of the mission and vision of the University. We plan to collaborate with Dr. Wilson and her initiatives to further define the role of the UTEP Alumni Association. Alumni engagement will continue to be a high priority as it paves the way to stronger connections and embraces the shared passion for our UTEP education and our community.
Q: You’ve been on the alumni board for almost 10 years. In that time, you must have met with thousands of alums. What are some of the things alumni most frequently discuss with you about UTEP?
A: Topics of discussion have evolved over the years. Most have been on the ever-expanding University and its tremendous growth. Other topics have been on (UTEP President Emerita) Dr. (Diana) Natalicio’s successes, such as gaining greater access for an economically disadvantaged population and achieving the coveted R1 designation by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The University has seen several significant construction and renovation projects to include the Foster Stevens Basketball Center and the public art displays, such as “Mining Minds,” created by Michael Clapper, and the “Esfera Cuántica Tlahtolli” by Mexican artist Sebastián, and the opening of the Bhutanese Lhakhang.
After Dr. Natalicio announced her retirement, the biggest topic of discussion has centered on Dr. Wilson’s vision for UTEP and how will she continue and reinforce the progress established to access and excellence at UTEP.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being a Miner?
A: My favorite thing about being a Miner is the sense of pride, goodwill, bonding and shared beliefs we have about the University. If you are old enough, you can remember the 1966 NCAA men’s basketball championship title; Coach Mike Price leading the Miners to an 8-4 record in his first season as head football coach in 2004 and becoming the second Miner coach to take UTEP to three bowl games. Then, there is the excitement of seeing accomplished alumni leading public and private industries, thrusting UTEP’s name into national headlines.
These accomplishments have brought status and prestige to the University and to El Paso and make me proud to bleed orange and blue.
Q: What do you want all alumni to know about the UTEP Alumni Association?
A: The UTEP Alumni Association is a platform for all alumni to showcase their pride for the University. The association is the avenue to stay informed, engaged, and give back to UTEP.
Q: What kind of legacy do you want to leave as president of the UTEP Alumni Association?
A: I want my legacy to be about giving back to an institution that provided me a great education. I believe that everyone can give back to their University. It doesn’t merely mean giving financial resources, but giving of one’s expertise, talent, experience and passion. I believe that we all want to leave the world a better place.
Q: Tell us about the board members for this next year.
A: We currently have 23 board members. Our board members represent a broad spectrum of careers and expertise. They represent most of the academic colleges and demographics.
We have lawyers, a retired dean, retired photojournalist, and a retired educator. We also have a chief operating officer of a medical center and a director of systems technology for a major international financial services group along with a franchisee owner.
This group of individuals brings diversity, passion for UTEP, eagerness to collaborate with the new leadership. The members also represent the age spectrum of what makes up the Alumni Association.
I am extremely grateful to be able to serve with them this coming year. As board president, I am modeling this year with Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s quote: “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change. Perspective is everything and when we find a way to look at things differently, we will see endless possibilities.”
Q: Tell us about your family and how they’ve supported your passion for the Alumni Association.
A: My late husband, James Biggs, was instrumental with my involvement with the Alumni Association. He invigorated my love for the University by accompanying me and becoming a season-ticket holder for sporting events, even though he wasn’t much of a sports enthusiast. That led to my involvement with the UTEP Fan Club, then the El Paso Alumni Association Chapter. My family urged me to submit my application for a position on the Alumni Association Board, and here I am, 10 years later, as the President.I had the honor of having my mother who is 93 years old witness the passing of the gavel from Bonny Schulenberg to me. I am eternally blessed.