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Fall 2018: What’s New, What’s Changed, What You Need to Know

Last Updated on August 27, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Originally published August 27, 2018

By Jesse C. Martinez

UTEP Communications

As a new semester begins, The University of Texas at El Paso warmly welcomes every member of the Miner family, but especially new and returning students. The University has greeted new leaders, launched some programs, and enhanced its infrastructure since last May.

The new school year always comes with its share of excitement and anxiety. One student's advice was to get involved with the campus. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable, said sophomore business major Amey Gomez. Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre/UTEP Communications
The new school year always comes with its share of excitement and anxiety. One student's advice was to get involved with the campus. "Be comfortable with being uncomfortable," said sophomore business major Amey Gomez. Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre/UTEP Communications

One thing that has not changed is the enthusiasm that surrounds the start of a new semester. Sophomore general business major Amey Gomez knows that feeling well. She said the first week has its share of excitement, fear, happiness and sadness, but it all leads to new experiences.

“It’s a mix of emotions, but at the end of the day, it’s a positive move,” Gomez said. “We are fortunate enough to be getting our education at UTEP.”

The self-professed proud Miner said she quickly fell in love with the University and became the vice president of membership for the Student Alumni Association and a senator-at-large for the Student Government Association. Those groups are two of many that will participate at Miner Welcome.

The Student Engagement and Leadership Center (SELC) will host Miner Welcome from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. August 27 to 30 at Centennial Plaza. This fun and informal activity introduces students to student organizations and leadership opportunities.

“Miner Welcome is a great opportunity for new and returning students to take advantage of the world-class resources that UTEP offers,” said Gary Edens, Ed.D., vice president for student affairs. “As a proud alumnus, I’m happy to see students continue to choose UTEP and utilize the vast network of students, alumni and staff. UTEP is a gorgeous campus filled with an abundance of resources and experiences that will put students on the path to success.”  

Miner Welcome has a different daily theme. On Monday you can “float into the new year” with inflatable chairs and slides, root beer floats and other activities. Tuesday is an opportunity to meet representatives of the University’s fraternities and sororities. There also will be arcade games and Taco Tuesday giveaways. Students can learn about the UTEP Edge on Wednesday and Thursday and get free breakfast. The UTEP Edge celebrates the many talents that students possess when they begin their college career and helps to develop these assets through a variety of high-impact experiences made possible by the expertise and dedication of UTEP’s faculty, staff, alumni and community partners.

“Miner Welcome serves as our official welcome and kick off to another great year on campus for all of our students, returning and new,” said Nicole Aguilar, SELC director. “For many students, this is the first taste of what they can come to expect from campus life here at UTEP. This week is their chance to meet friendly faculty, staff and students who can help them find their way across campus, find ways to get involved, and so much more! We pride ourselves on creating a welcoming, inclusive environment on campus for everyone.”

Miner Welcome leads into the 28th annual Minerpalooza, UTEP’s back-to-school bash from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, in the GR2 parking lot at Glory Road and Sun Bowl Drive. This free event includes live music from DJ Pauly D, Drake Bell and local musicians DJ Orange Calderón and Volta. Party-goers may purchase food and game tickets that can be used at booths operated by student organizations that earn part of the proceeds.

Navigation and Miner Metro

During the first week of school, students may run into the Miner Welcome Street Team. These volunteers are available to answer questions about UTEP. Students also can tap into the interactive campus map that lists campus buildings, parking locations, dining facilities, Miner Metro shuttle routes and more. It also works on your mobile device, so be sure to bookmark Likewise, the University has a handy website and app available to track the shuttles.

Campus Dining

UTEP has plenty of eateries, but sometimes you may be in more than the usual rush. UTEP Dining Services has collaborated with Tapingo to bring mobile ordering to campus. Use the app to order food from your favorite campus restaurant and the app will alert you when it is ready.

If you have time to sit and eat, use the Bite app to see what is on the menu at the Pick ‘n’ Shovel, UTEP’s popular buffet. Both the Bite and Tapingo apps are available at the Apple App Store and Google Play.

The Growing Campus

Contractors are wrapping up the University Avenue Pedestrian and Bike Enhancement Project on the east side of campus. Once completed, the stretch of road between Union Building East and the Hilton Garden Inn parking garage will feature added foliage, shade structures, wider sidewalks, shared bicycle lanes and new lighting. There also will be a new ADA ramp next to Union Building East to allow wheelchair access.

Officials are aiming for an early October completion date and ask Miners to be mindful of the construction crews in the area. Please follow the detour signs or avoid the area until the project is complete. Safety is always a top priority.

Another high-profile summer construction assignment was the Sun Bowl Renovation Project. Contractors enhanced the stadium’s aesthetics with overhead artwork and historical displays along the western concourse wall. Also part of the initial phase is the replacement of interior signage for section numbers, wayfinding and restrooms. Three concession stands on the west concourse are undergoing a facelift.  

Construction continues on the $85 million Interdisciplinary Research Building that should open in 2020. Officials expect the complete exterior skeleton to be finished by the end of December 2018. The 162,000-square-foot structure will have labs and offices for interdisciplinary team projects. Building renderings may be found at

Contractors also completed or will soon complete projects inside the Campbell, Physical Sciences, and Business Administration buildings and the Engineering and Sciences Complex.

New Campus Administrators and Programs

The University introduced a few new campus leaders during the summer.

  • Clifton Tanabe, Ph.D., is the new dean of the College of Education. He comes to UTEP from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Along with his administrative duties, Tanabe will be a tenured professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Foundations.
  • The College of Liberal Arts’ new dean is Denis O’Hearn, Ph.D. He comes from Texas A&M University, where he led its Department of Sociology since 2016. The new dean takes over the University’s largest college with 22 departments and programs and almost 7,000 students.
  • UTEP named alumnus Mark McGurk its vice president for business affairs. McGurk, who started as a student assistant in the payroll office, will manage the University’s balance sheet and capital structure, financial planning, financial reporting, budgeting and forecasting, audit activities, capital planning and human resources., one of the campus’ most accessed websites, also got an upgrade over the summer. After extensive research and testing, Enterprise Computing implemented design changes for better accessibility and added new features, such as easy access to printing services and several tutorial videos to educate MyUTEP users.

UTEP added a new Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree plan for individuals who earned an associate degree in a health occupation or technical field and now want to enhance their career options. The University also launched several certificate programs through the colleges of Education, Liberal Arts and Business Administration.

The addition of a new degree plan is one example of the vast number of opportunities UTEP has for its students. Gomez advised new and returning students to get the most out of their UTEP experience.

“Just go out there,” Gomez said. “Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”