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Home | Tag Archives: UTEP President Heather Wilson

Tag Archives: UTEP President Heather Wilson

Mining Minds: Special Lighting to celebrate UTEP President Heather Wilson’s 1st Fall Convocation

The University of Texas at El Paso will illuminate the “Mining Minds” pickaxe sculpture at the campus’ Sun Bowl-University Roundabout in blue and orange Tuesday, September 17, 2019, to celebrate UTEP President Heather Wilson’s first Fall Convocation.

President Wilson will deliver remarks to UTEP faculty, staff and students at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Fox Fine Arts Recital Hall.

Wilson was confirmed as President on April 2 by The University of Texas System Board of Regents after a national search that spanned eight months. She took office Aug. 15.

Her career in public service and higher education has spanned more than 35 years and includes top leadership roles in higher education, the military, government and private industry.

Until May 2019, President Wilson served as Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, a position to which she was appointed in 2017. In that role, she oversaw 685,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian forces, and an annual budget of $160 billion.

Before joining the Department of Defense, she served as president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, an engineering and science research university in Rapid City, South Dakota, from 2013 to 2017.

In 1998, Wilson became the first female military veteran elected to a full term in Congress, representing New Mexico until 2009.

“Mining Minds” is an iconic piece of public art installed in 2010 to enhance the UTEP campus. At night, orange lights illuminate the steel structure while light from LEDs emanates from the perforated “ones” and “zeroes” at each end of the pick.

The University illuminates the pick in blue and orange on special occasions, such as historic dates, major annual milestones and celebrations of special accomplishments.

Learn more about “Mining Minds” at

Letter: A Few Words from New UTEP President Heather Wilson

When I was in first grade, I had a bank made out of a tin Crisco can with a slot cut in the top. It had pennies and nickels and a few quarters I had earned or been given.

One day, my mother told me that I could go to YMCA camp the following summer. I could use the coins I had saved in my can and she would pay the rest.

“I can’t use that money for camp,” I told her. “I’m saving for college.”

My mother laughed. I probably would have too in her situation with a six-year-old saving for college.

But I was serious.

The truth is, I don’t know where I got the idea that I was going to college. No one in my family had ever been. But as my schooling continued, my commitment to make my life better by working hard and going to college deepened.

My father’s family came to America after the First World War. My grandfather was a mechanic and a pilot who ran little airports and taught people to fly. He served in the Second World War for the United States, towing targets for gunnery practice and patrolling the coast looking for submarines. My grandmother was a seamstress and worked in a shoe factory.

My Dad started flying as a kid and enlisted in the Air Force for a few years after high school. He was a mechanic and, after he got out of the Air Force, he was a pilot.

My Mom’s family came from Ireland. After my Dad died in a car accident when I was in second grade, she went back to work as a nurse in our local hospital.

When I was a junior in high school they opened the Air Force Academy to women. It was a full ride scholarship – a ticket to a dream.

My grandfather was still alive when I left home for the Academy. I was seventeen years old – the same age he had been when he lied about his age and joined the Royal Air Force. I was his only granddaughter and he was so proud of me. It was the only time I ever saw him cry.

I worked hard and thrived at the Academy. It challenged me and helped me grow from an awkward teenager from a small town into an educated young woman of promise. It opened doors for me that I didn’t even know existed.

The boys and girls in first grade today, saving pennies and nickels for camp or college, will be graduating from high school 12 years hence. Those students will be preparing for careers that do not yet exist, using technology that has not yet been invented.

I believe in the power of education to change lives because it changed mine.

When it comes to education, what was good enough for our parents and our grandparents is not good enough for our children or our grandchildren. The pace of change is accelerating.

A commitment to continuous learning for everyone – to access, excellence, and impact – will separate the regions of the world that thrive in the 21st century from those that don’t.

UTEP is committed to building this bright future, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

Warm Regards,

Heather Wilson


Photo gallery courtesy UTEP

Bordertown Undergroun Show 728
Utep Football Generic 728
Amy’s Astronomy
Rhinos 2019/2020 728
Mountains 728
EP ELEC 2019 728×729
STEP 728