By Rodrigo Castaneda
UTEP News Service
This year has been jam-packed with celebrations. From late June to mid-July, UTEP’s Centennial Museum will be hosting a very special series of walking tours on UTEP history as part of its Centennial Tour Series.
“These tours are a great way for anyone to be a part of the Centennial Celebration,” said Maribel Villalva, director of the Centennial Museum and executive director of the Centennial Celebration. “For the Centennial, we wanted to invite the El Paso community to campus and this was a great way for people to come back. Visitors who go on these tours get some great behind-the-scenes information from campus experts.”
The walking tour themes change every month and focus on different aspects of UTEP. Past tours have included UTEP’s architecture, public arts on campus, the story of the Disney movie “Glory Road,” the 1966 NCAA men’s basketball championship and behind-the-scenes tours of the athletic facilities.
P.J. Vierra will serve as the expert and lead three tours to showcase themes significant to UTEP’s history and the Centennial. All tours are free and open to the public and begin outside the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at parking lot P-5 off Dawson Drive. The first tour is at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 28. The second tour starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 9. The third tour will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 19.
Vierra’s tours will include segments on UTEP’s founding, the unique Bhutanese architecture, traditions and its evolution into a major research institution – all while using the beautiful campus as a backdrop.
“I hope to illuminate some seemingly mundane items we see every day and explain their meaning in the context of UTEP history,” Vierra said. “For example, why is there a staircase on the rear of Vowell Hall? Or why is ‘UT’ repeatedly carved repeatedly into the side of the portion of the Geological Science Building which was built in 1938, some thirty years before we became the University of Texas at El Paso?”
Vierra designed the UTEP History walking tours. According to Villalva, Vierra has been researching UTEP’s history for more than a year and has become very familiar with the people and the stories that made UTEP the dynamic university it is today. Additionally, Vierra is the managing editor and researcher for the UTEP Centennial Celebration Office, a UTEP doctoral student and an editor of for UTEP Encyclopedia.
For the expert-led walking tours, free campus parking is available during the weekends and weekdays after 5:30 p.m. To RSVP, contact Maribel Villalva at 915-747-6669 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Centennial Tour Series will continue throughout the rest of the year. There will be a Bhutan tour in August, an arts venues on campus in September, a look at the haunted parts of campus in October, tours of UTEP research facilities in November, and in December visitors can choose any of the previous five tours.
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Public Affairs Specialist