News Column

New Flagpole Is Latest Step in UTEP Makeover

Feb. 19, 2013

Aileen B. Flores, El Paso Times, Texas

The University of Texas at El Paso celebrated the installation of a new 60-foot tall flagpole on Presidents Day.

As part of the campus' ongoing facelift, UTEP officials decided to relocate the flagpole from Memorial Triangle to the corner of the Psychology Building at Hawthorne Street and Kerbey Avenue.

The new pole will overlook the proposed Centennial Plaza, a large green space located at the center of campus between Union Building West and the Geological Sciences Building. The plaza is part of a series of projects which are aimed at enriching the quality of campus life.

Members of the UTEP ROTC retired the flag from the old flagpole and then raised a new flag on the new pole during a small ceremony on Monday.

The relocation is symbolic because the flagpole has marked the university's historic journey, from its humble beginnings as a small mining school, to a regional college and now moving toward becoming a national public research university, said UTEP President Diana Natalicio.

Originally, the flagpole was placed in front of Old Main -- the oldest building on campus, which set the precedent for the rest of the campus' Bhutanese architectural style.

"Old Main was just about it when (the flagpole) came to the UTEP campus," Natalicio said.

Then in 1947, the flagpole was moved to the Memorial Triangle, which has been the primary site for many signature campus events such as Minerpalooza, Homecoming and tailgate parties.

Currently at the Memorial Triangle, the university is building the Bhutanese cultural artifact "lhakhang" or temple.

"For more than 50 years, the flagpole served proudly as the centerpiece of Memorial Triangle. Today, in conjunction with our campus transformation initiative, we once again move the U.S. flag to a new location where it will continue to fly proudly over UTEP's new Centennial Plaza," Natalicio said.

The flagpole will be illuminated at night. Two memorial plaques -- one honoring those who served in World War I, World War II and the Korean conflict, and another commemorating those who have served in the U.S. Army -- also were restored.

The eagle that sits on the old flagpole will be preserved, said Greg McNicol, associate vice president for facilities services. "Several options are being studied," he said.

Source: (c)2013 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) Distributed by MCT Information Services