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Saturday , November 17 2018
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UTEP’s Heritage House Shines Light on Institution’s Past

With all the hustle and bustle of college life, it is understandable if students, faculty and staff at The University of Texas at El Paso ignore the nondescript two-story, sand-colored stucco building “hidden” in the center of campus. Understandable, but unfortunate.

The building in question is Heritage House, 405 Kerbey Ave. It has served many purposes through the years from home to classroom to gallery. It is a valued depository of artifacts and memorabilia that chronicles and celebrates UTEP’s existence and traditions starting from its days as the State School of Mines and Metallurgy in 1914.

The wall-to-wall displays and special exhibits overseen by UTEP’s Heritage Commission can educate about the campus’ past or elicit warm waves of nostalgia.

For Ramiro Martinez, a retired El Paso pharmacist who earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UTEP in 1967, it was a little of both. He found himself sitting in the Heritage Conference Room, the former home’s dining area, lost in the past as he fingered through an old Flowsheet yearbook.

Martinez said he passed the Heritage House as a student, but never gave the building much thought. At that time, the converted home was used for special University projects.

While on campus for 2017 Homecoming activities, someone recommended he visit the house. One hour into his tour, he was having a pseudo-reunion because he found several of his college buddies on the black-and-white pages of the Flowsheet.

“(Heritage House) is very nice,” said Martinez, who was appointed to the Heritage Commission in November 2017 because of his interest. “It’s nice to come back and see how things were. There’s a lot of history here.”

The home houses collections of books, photos, uniforms, sculptures, paintings and assemblies of glassware, jewelry and different incarnations of UTEP mascot Paydirt Pete. The Heritage Commission has an inventory of thousands of artifacts, which includes approximately 2,000 glossy, black-and-white photos of the campus, people on campus and campus activities throughout the years.

Built in 1920, the building served as home to the institution’s first dean, Steve H. Worrell, and his wife, Kathleen. The Worrells deeded the home to the college after they left in 1923. It remained a residence until the 1960s when it was used as a classroom, for special projects, and eventually for facilities services. University President Diana Natalicio approved renovations to the property and turned it over to the Heritage Commission in 1994.

UTEP formally created the 30-member Heritage Commission on Oct. 8, 1980, to preserve the University’s artifacts. The all-volunteer group is made up mostly of retired alumni, faculty and staff. Before Heritage House, members kept memorabilia in their offices and in the basement of the Administration Building.

Commission members inventory donations, respond to research inquiries and set up displays in Heritage House and the glass display case

UTEP’s Heritage Commission, pictured during a spring 2018 meeting near Miner Canyon student housing, oversees the research and displays at Heritage House. Photo: Laura Trejo / UTEP Communications

outside the Tomás Rivera Conference Center on the third floor of Union Building East. They also lead tours mostly for interested alumni and student groups.

The main draw for the hundreds of annual visitors is to learn about the campus’ history, heritage and traditions.

Briane Carter, Heritage Commission chair and former director of UTEP’s University Career Center, did not mince words when discussing the importance of Heritage House.

“If (Heritage House) wasn’t here, the history of UTEP would be lost,” Carter said. “We’re here to preserve that history and allow visitors to rediscover it.”

One of her favorite Heritage House stories involves Tatsumi Morizuka, a retired resident of Kawai-Cho, Japan, who stopped by UTEP during a bus and train tour of the southern United States in 2016.

Morizuka was familiar with California and some Northeastern states, but wanted to experience the Southwest, especially UTEP, which he read about in a Japanese guide book. He praised the campus in general, and was specifically glad to have spent time in Heritage House. He said the photos and exhibits were wonderful ways to familiarize first-time visitors with the University’s history and traditions.

“The time I spent at Heritage House was precious and unique,” Morizuka said in an email interview, adding that he did not know of any similar gallery at a Japanese university. “It is as if I had been transported to a small, fancy land.”

Stephanie Meyers, DMA, professor of music, said the house is a “big hit” with participants of her String Project, a program that offers string instrument instruction to area elementary school students. She said the children are especially fond of the different Paydirt Pete costumes, some of which date back to before their parents were born.

“They see (Heritage House) as a warm, inviting place,” Meyers said. “They love everything about it.”

The C.L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department in the University Library often collaborates with Heritage House, said Claudia Rivers, director of Special Collections and a de facto member of the Heritage Commission.

The two entities have similar, but different, missions. Whereas Heritage House collects and displays UTEP artifacts, Special Collections is a cache of documents about the University and beyond to include the City of El Paso, the Southwest region and the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We work closely with them,” Rivers said. “They are a wonderful resource. There are a lot of knowledgeable people there who perform a great service for the University.”

Maribel Villalva, assistant vice president for alumni relations, praised the Heritage Commission for the countless hours they spend archiving, caring for and displaying the memorabilia, and then educating the public about the University. The commission and Heritage House are supported by UTEP’s Office of Alumni Relations.

“We are so grateful for these dedicated volunteers who have chosen to give back to UTEP in this meaningful way,” Villalva said. “They help us to preserve UTEP’s proud history.”

For more information, visit the Heritage House website.

Author:  Daniel Perez – UTEP Communications

1966 Championship Team Captain Orsten Artis Passes Away

Orsten Artis, team captain on Texas Western’s famed 1966 national championship team, passed away at his home in Merrillville, Indiana on Tuesday.  He was 74 years old.

The Miners have lost both captains from the 28-1 squad that won the only Division I men’s basketball national championship in the state of Texas.  Harry Flournoy passed away on Nov. 26, 2016.

Artis was Texas Western’s third-leading scorer during the 1965-66 season, averaging 12.6 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 47 percent from the field and 86.3 percent from the line.  

The 6-1 guard lettered for the Miners for three seasons (1963-66), averaging 10.5 ppg as a sophomore and 11.2 ppg as a junior.  He helped Texas Western to a 69-13 record and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances (1964, 1966).  Artis scored 22 points against Utah in the 1966 national semifinals, and collected 15 points and eight rebounds in the historic title game victory over Kentucky. 

Artis scored in double figures in each of the Miners’ five NCAA Tournament games in 1966.

Artis is enshrined in both the UTEP Athletics and Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.  In 2007, the national champs were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

He retired after a long career as a detective with the Gary, Ind. police department.

Artis is preceded in death by his wife, Fredinea.  He has a son, Rex.

Funeral and memorial service arrangements are forthcoming.

Story in Many Pics: Miners Down Western Kentucky in OT 93-89

On a very special afternoon in the Sun City, surrounded by a sellout crowd and members of the NCAA Championship team from 1966, the UTEP Miners again beat a team from Kentucky (Western Kentucky) and celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the groundbreaking win. Check out Andres Acosta’s view of the game and ceremony in tonight’s Story in Many Pics.

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Tickets on sale now for live panel discussion of Miners’ 1966 Championship

Tickets are on sale now for a live panel discussion featuring the 1966 national champion Texas Western Miners on Feb. 5 at Memorial Gym.

Footage from the event will be incorporated into the CBS Sports Network documentary “1966 TEXAS WESTERN: CHAMPIONS OF CHANGE.”  The special will air later this winter.

The panel discussion will take place on Feb. 5 from 4-6 p.m., a day before the championship team is honored on its 50th anniversary at UTEP’s home game versus Western Kentucky.

The panel discussion will feature other special guests and will be moderated by journalist and author Jack Ford.

Tickets are $15 and seating is limited at Memorial Gym.  Tickets are available online only by visiting ticketmaster.com

CBS Sports Network to Commemorate 50th Anniversary of National Title

CBS Sports Network will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Texas Western capturing the historic 1966 national championship with a special, “1966 TEXAS WESTERN: CHAMPIONS OF CHANGE” airing later this winter.

A live panel discussion, which will be incorporated into the special, is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Feb. 5 from4-6 p.m. at Memorial Gym.

The panel discussion will feature members of the 1966 Texas Western championship team, along with special guests and will be moderated by journalist and author Jack Ford.

UTEP basketball season ticket holders will have first access to tickets for the event.  They can purchase tickets via ticketmaster.com by using a special access code that will be sent via e-mail on Monday (Jan. 18).  Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Thursday, Jan. 21 via ticketmaster.com only.

Tickets are $15 and seating is limited at Memorial Gym.

Tickets on sale Monday for UTEP’s 50th Anniversary celebration of ’66 Championship

The 1966 Texas Western College Miners will return to campus, and UTEP will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the historic 1966 National Championship at the men’s basketball game versus Western Kentucky on Feb. 6.

Tickets will go on sale to the general public Monday (Jan. 11) for the once-in-a-lifetime event.

Special in-game features include:

-Unique starting lineup introduction featuring both the national champs and the 2015-16 Miners

– Commemorative video board messages from NIKE and national celebrities

– Local and national recognition of the championship team at halftime with special guests

-Free 50th anniversary t-shirt for every fan as the Don Haskins Center is “striped out” in orange and blue for the game

In addition, a basketball autographed by the 1965-66 team members will be presented to 50 lucky fans in attendance.

Single-game tickets start at $15.  They will be available by calling 747-5234, by visiting the UTEP Ticket Center (corner of Mesa Street & Glory Road) or online at ticketmaster.com starting on Monday.

Tip-off on Feb. 6 is slated for 3 p.m. MT.

UTEP Graduate, Former Professor celebrates 102nd Birthday

Lola Dawkins, a 1954 Business Graduate from Texas Western College (now UTEP) and former UTEP business professor, celebrated her 102nd birthday Tuesday, December 29 with family and friends in Central El Paso.

Dawkins is an award-winning Professor Emerita of Marketing and Management who joined the faculty in 1965 and retired in 1984.

Dawkins is well remembered by her students and built a reputation as a tough grader. When asked what her favorite part of teaching was, her eyes lit up and she said with a smile, “I didn’t think of myself as a teacher. I created the climate for learning.”

Lola Dawkins 2She shared that she likes when students contact her or send her cards thanking her and sharing their success. There’s no question she impacted the lives of those inside and outside her classroom. Jackson Curlin is one former student who became a family friend and hosted Tuesday’s gathering.

“I feel fortunate to know her,” Curlin said. “I think it’s wonderful she’s lived this many years. I feel certain that her legacy, if it has touched 100,000 people, it will soon touch 1 million people because of the students that she has turned out and students that continue to benefit from her generosity.”

Even after her retirement, Dawkins maintained her ties to the university through volunteer work with organizations such as the Heritage Commission and scholarship funds that benefit business students.

One of Dawkins’ favorite UTEP assignments was leading the team that oversaw the design of UTEP’s Business Administration Building, which opened in 1982.  She also led the committees that recommended the building’s furnishings and equipment.

Despite beating UTEP to the century mark, Dawkins still attends campus events and enjoys speaking with and advising students at scholarship functions.

“I am just proud to be part of UTEP, to have gone to Texas Western,” Dawkins said.

She is still in good health, attends services at First Baptist Church twice a week and visits those who can’t attend church every week with her niece Carol Ann Olachia.

“She’s just positive, always been positive,” Olachia said. “She’s 102 and still positive. It’s a great life lesson for me and I know for many others as well.”

When asked about her secret to long life, Dawkins said faith, family and friends. As for advice for others, she said, “Give it all you got. Don’t play around.”

Author: UTEP

Story in Six Pics: UTEP downs Texas State 77-62

The hardcourt Miners got it done Saturday night at the Don versus Texas State, winning 77 to 62. Check out a Andres Acosta’s pix in this ‘Story in Six Pics.’

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