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UTEP Welcomes Students Back to Campus

Last Updated on August 23, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Originally published August 23, 2019

By Victor R. Martinez

UTEP Communications

For the first time in more than three decades, The University of Texas at El Paso begins the 2019-20 academic year not only by welcoming more than 25,000 students, but by introducing a new President.

Heather Wilson, Ph.D., took the helm Aug. 15. She is the 11th president in the school’s 105-year history.

The first day of classes for the Fall 2019 semester at UTEP is Monday, Aug. 26.

Before arriving at UTEP, Wilson served as the 24th Secretary of the U.S. Air Force from 2017 through 2019. She was the President of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, South Dakota, from 2013 to 2017, and represented New Mexico in Congress for 10 years. Wilson also has worked in the private sector, serving as a senior adviser to defense and scientific industry and as president of Keystone International, a company she founded that conducted business development and program planning work.

She graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in its third class to admit women and earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in international relations from Oxford University in England as a Rhodes Scholar.

First-Week Activities

There are many activities planned for the first week of school including the annual Miner Welcome, five days of fun-filled events planned by the Student Engagement and Leadership Center. 

Themed activities are planned from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday at Centennial Plaza. The week will culminate with Minerpalooza from 6 to 11 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30, at Glory Road and Sun Bowl Drive.

Here are the highlights:

Monday, Aug. 26, Jump Into the New Year: Students can enjoy free Starbucks samples, learn about the importance of recycling with the Pepsi Recycling Roadster and entertain themselves by sliding down inflatables.

Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 27-28, Discover the UTEP Edge: The UTEP Edge fosters lifelong success for every student by way of dedicated curricular and co-curricular programming that encourages students to develop their talents and strengths through a variety of high-impact experiences created and delivered by faculty, staff, alumni and community partners. Students can discover the many experiences on campus that will help them gain a competitive edge by developing key skills that prepare them for leadership positions and lifelong success. Free pancakes will be provided. Learn more at

Thursday, Aug. 29, Orange Revival: UTEP’s Student Government Association members will be present as students enjoy free papas locas, corn in a cup and funnel cake. Students can also showcase their skills at the inflatable soccer, football and basketball challenges.

Friday, Aug. 30, Minerpalooza: The 29th edition of Minerpalooza – UTEP’s most anticipated community celebration – will feature live entertainment, interactive activities, food vendors and Pete’s Playground, a dedicated children’s play area. A beer and wine garden will also be accessible to those ages 21 and older. Admission is free and open to the public. Indie pop act lovelytheband will headline a lineup of world-renowned musical acts including Lemaitre, an electronic duo from Oslo, Norway; DJ James Kennedy, known from the hit Bravo reality show “Vanderpump Rules;” and El Paso’s own Jake C will open up the set. Learn more at

Orange Out the Campus

To show off the UTEP community's Miner pride as the new semester begins, the University is encouraging students, faculty and staff to wear orange during the first week of school, particularly on the first day of classes, Aug. 26.

New Student Tailgating and Ticketing 

Students can expect a new tailgating experience for the 2019 UTEP football season.

UTEP students will have an exclusive tailgating area atop the Sun Bowl Parking Garage, and the student ticketing process has been simplified for the 2019 Miner football season.

The UTEP Football Student Tailgate Zone will be open from noon to 6 p.m. for each of the Miners’ first four football home games, which all kick off at 6. Tailgate zone hours for the last two home games, which kick off at 1 p.m., will be announced at a later date. 

For the first four home games, students with special permits (tailgate experience or tailgate parking permit) will be required to arrive at the Sun Bowl Parking Garage between 10 and 11:30 a.m. to be allowed in their designated space. A tailgate experience permit provides a reserved space on the top level, while students with a tailgate parking permit will be allowed to park in any non-reserved spot. Parking passes are only valid for the Sun Bowl Parking Garage. UTEP Football Student Tailgate Zone participants will receive a wristband with proof of active Miner Gold Card or football ticket that acts as a fast pass into Sun Bowl Stadium. Wristbands will be available on the top level of the Sun Bowl Parking Garage.

Students with a tailgate experience permit are allowed to bring their own propane grill or pre-prepared outside food. Food and beverages will also be sold in the UTEP Football Student Tailgate Zone.

For more information on the UTEP Football Student Tailgate Zone, please visit

UTEP students can enter Sun Bowl Stadium by having their Miner Gold Card scanned at the gate on game day.  

Before game day, student guest tickets can be purchased on the first floor of Union Building East and the UTEP Ticket Center, 2901 North Mesa St. On game days, student guest tickets can be purchased at the UTEP Ticket Center, the UTEP Ticket Center Eastside Location, 1452 N. Zaragoza Suite A-500, or the Sun Bowl Box Office. 

Spirit Week

This football season, UTEP students can expect a festive atmosphere in the days leading up to each of UTEP's six home games.

UTEP's cheer and dance teams will lead spirit week activities around campus to get students excited about cheering on the Miners. Throughout the week, students can grab orange doughnuts in Leech Grove, compete in the "Touchdown Throwdown" on Centennial Plaza, catch the UTEP Marching Miners playing the fight song in flash mobs around campus, and more.

The spirit teams' activities start every day at 10 a.m.

Additionally, the Orange and Blue Spirit Crew, a group of more than 200 students, will be around campus sharing information about upcoming home football games starting the week of Sept. 16.

Library Renovations to include Starbucks, ‘Grad Hub,’ Miner Learning Center

The main change to the University’s eateries this fall is the establishment of the Texas Western Café in the second-floor lobby of the University Library. The café, which replaces Jazzman’s, will serve Starbucks coffees as well as pastries, fresh salads and hearty sandwiches for people on the go. The hours of operation remain the same.

This will be the campus’ third Starbucks location. There is a full-service Starbucks on the second floor of the Chemistry and Computer Science Building, which sells other company merchandise, and another Starbucks satellite at the Jamba Juice on the first floor of Union Building East.

“We consider it an update,” said Diana Fierro, marketing director for Sodexo, which oversees campus eateries. “We know our customers love their Starbucks. This new location will make it easier for them to enjoy a coffee as they hang out, read, study or do their homework at the library.”

Fierro also reminded hungry Miners that Wicked Wings, which opened during the spring 2019 semester, is selling wings, chicken strips, fries, salads and beverages at the Union food court.

Sodexo plans to survey UTEP students during the fall 2019 semester to see what other franchises or food options they would like to see on campus. Sodexo will use that information to help decide future changes to campus cuisine.

From the gastronomic to the academic, the Library also plans to renovate two areas into special study spaces. The Grad Hub could open as early as November 2019. It will be located near the Library’s administrative offices on the third floor. Construction will begin on the new Miner Learning Center (MLC) in late August in the vacant second-floor space in the northeast corner of the Library.

Contractors have begun removing the student carrels on the third floor this week for Phase I of the approximately 2,200-square-foot hub. The installation of the new carpet and furniture, which will form the hub’s perimeter, should begin Oct. 15. The new center will offer students, primarily graduate students, a distinct site to meet and study. Graduate School leaders developed this plan with Library and graduate student representatives. The hub will have four distinct work areas to accommodate individuals and groups. This site answers a frequent graduate student request for a quiet, dedicated workspace.

As for the MLC, the plan is to divide approximately 2,500 square feet into two small rooms and one large room separated by walls and glass partitions. Construction will continue throughout the semester. The goal is to move the MLC during the winter break from its current offices in Prospect Hall and open January 2020 in the Library.

MLC leaders said the library provides a more centralized location for students who seek additional help with historically tough core curriculum courses in an individual or group setting. They also praised the site because of its proximity to the Math Resource Center for Students and the University Writing Center on the same floor at the opposite end of the library.

“This was the perfect spot,” said Vanessa L. Martinez, director of Academic Student Success. “We’ll be more accessible and get about 1,000 additional square feet. Another benefit will be the proximity to the other assistance centers that will make it easier to collaborate. We hope this move will make the center better utilized. We’re really excited about this.”

Facilities Services said contractors would finish Phase I in late October. Phase II of the MLC construction, which includes the assimilation of the Military Student Success Center (MSSC), will take place in December. The MSSC will move into the Mike Loya Academic Services Building’s conference center, Room 131-B.

Martinez said the additional space would allow the MLC to offer additional assistance to students in upper division courses in the future.