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UTEP History: Home

Resources for the history of the University of Texas at El Paso formerly known as Texas Western College, Texas State School of Mines and College of Mines, and University of Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy.

Class of 1920

Photograph of Entire School in 1920

*Source: University of Texas at El Paso Library Special Collections Department.

Freshman Class of 1929

Photograph of only the Freshman Class

*Source: University of Texas at El Paso Library Special Collections Department.

Texas Western College

 *Source:  University of Texas at El Paso Library Special Collections Department.

Background History

The Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy, now named The University of Texas at El Paso, opened its doors to students on September 23, 1914, with buildings located on present-day Ft. Bliss.  A fire destroyed the campus in 1916 and the University moved to its current location.

Kathleen Worrell, wife of Steve Worrell, first Dean of the College (1914-1923), is credited for introducing the Bhutanese dzong architecture style to campus.  Ms. Worrell suggested the architectural style to Dean Worrell after reading "Castles in the Air," a National Geographic article (Also available on Google Books and National Geographic).

The first three buildings were constructed  in 1917, in the style of Bhutanese monasteries.  They featured massive gently sloping walls, high inset windows, projecting roof eaves and dark bands of brick with mosaic tiles in the shape of mandalas - symbols of unity and wholeness.  The buildings were Main (now Old Main), Burges Hall (now Graham Hall) and Chemistry Hall (now Quinn Hall). 

The University opened with 27 students.  Fall 2011 enrollment reached a record breaking 22,640 students.

UTEP Trivia

Cost of Tuition:  On opening day in 1914, students paid a one-time "matriculation" fee of $30 with laboratory fees ranging from $1.50 to $25 per course; tuition was at no cost. 

Mine Tunnel:  The mountain behind the Computer Science Building has a mine tunnel that was once condsidered a prime location for "making out."

Fire in the Hole!:  Explosions were once a common occurrence at UTEP through the 1960s.  Mining Professor John W. "Cap" Kidd frequently demonstrated the fine art of TNT and could often be heard yelling:  "DYNAMITE -- FIRE IN THE HOLE!"

Bowling Barbers:  The Union Building West once had a bowling alley in the basement, and also housed a barbershop with a full-time barber on the main floor.

Ghosts:  Several campus building are the home of spirited students or is that student spirits?  The dearly departed are said to haunt Cotton Memorial, Seamon Hall and Old Main.  The Student Alumni Association operates the Ghost Tour each October around Halloween, so check it out!

Cardiac Hill:  Once you've climbed up this hill you will have no problem understanding how it got its name.  Cardiac Hill begins at the base of the Education building and connects the main campus with Memorial Gym and Kidd Field.

Wild West:  A horse stable was located near what is now Glory Field, where student rodeos were held.

Subject Guide

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Claudia Rivers
Library, Sixth Floor

Joy Urbina

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Joy Urbina
University Library
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UTEP Mascots

*Photo from UTEP Alumni Relations website

  • First Mascot:  A burro (donkey) named "Clyde" illustrated by Walt Disney.
  • 1966 Mascot name changed to "Henry"
  • 1974 Student contest selects "Paydirt Pete," also known as "Sweet Pete," as mascot
  • 1999 "Paydirt Pete" redesign introduced
  • 2005 Current design of "Paydirt Pete" introduced

Alligator Caper - 1952

Use your smartphone to scan this code to view Vandiver's original story on the alligator caper.

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