UTRGV president serves up lunch to more than 1,000 Vaqueros

Story by Melissa Vasquez

EDINBURG, TEXAS – SEPT. 1, 2015 – Guy Bailey, founding president of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, donned an apron and served up hot dogs, chips and drinks to UTRGV students at his inaugural Picnic with the President on the second day of classes.

Students filed into the Ballroom on Tuesday, Sept. 1, at the Edinburg Campus, to grab some free grub, which had to be replenished with hamburgers when the 1,500 hot dogs disappeared in less than an hour.

Picnic with the President also will be held for students on the Brownsville Campus at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, at the Gran Salon.

UTRGV, the first public university in Texas in the 21st century, opened Monday, Aug. 31, with 29,045 students, 4,000 of them entering freshmen, on both the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses.

Bailey said he was happy to kick start this tradition for the university during Best Week Ever festivities, calling it an opportunity to meet as many new Vaqueros as possible.

“I’ve been doing this for students for a very long time,” said Bailey, who credits his late wife Jan with having the idea for a picnic event back in 2007. “It started in Kansas City (University of Missouri–Kansas City) almost 10 years ago, and we did it in Lubbock (Texas Tech University). It is always very popular. And it gives me a chance to meet some of the students, so I’m delighted to be here.”

Asked what advice he was dishing up for students coming through the line to be served, he said, “Go to class.”

Overall, Bailey said, UTRGV’s opening days have gone well and he looks forward to a great year.

“We had normal glitches, like every university has, but I was very pleased,” he said.

Bailey wasn’t the only university leader to don a white UTRGV apron to serve students.  He was joined by some members of his administrative team: Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs; Dr. Janna Arney, vice president for Operations and his chief of staff; Veronica Gonzales, vice president for Governmental and Community Relations; Martin Baylor, executive vice president for Finance and Administration; Dr. Kelly Cronin, vice president for Institutional Advancement; Dr. Theresa Maldonado, senior vice president for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development; and Dr. Kristin Croyle, vice president for Student Success – helped Bailey serve lunch to about 1,500 students before they headed back to class.

“It is such an honor to give back to the students,” Arney said. “They have had a stressful first day and second day. For many of them, it’s their first time in college. So we thought, what is better than a free meal? And what better way to meet them than to serve them.”

Also on the serving line and greeting students were Alberto Adame, inaugural president of the UTRGV Student Government Association, and Justin Drake, the newly appointed University of Texas System student regent, who toured the UTRGV campuses in Brownsville and Edinburg on Tuesday.

Sophomores Melissa Duran, a nursing major from San Benito, and Alexis Martinez, an English major from Donna, were on their way to get some lunch at the dining hall when they realized the president’s picnic was happening next door in the Ballroom. Duran said they did not want to pass up the opportunity to meet him.

“He asked me about my major and where I was from. He was really nice and humble,” Duran said.

Martinez, who hopes to ace her classes this semester, said meeting President Bailey was the highlight of her day.

“He was very friendly,” she said. “He even told me that, since I was an English major, not to worry. It will not be so hard.”

As upbeat music blasted loudly across the Quad, the Student Involvement Office distributed lots of UTRGV goodies – T-shirts, bandanas and key chains – and held a student organization fair. Games, music and two shaved ice food trucks were parked outside the Ballroom for students to enjoy a cool treat on a hot day.

UTRGV’s Best Week Ever continues through Friday, Sept. 4, with more student activities and events. For more information, call the UTRGV Student Involvement Office at 956-665-2660 (Edinburg) or 956-882-5111 (Brownsville).


UTRGV VIDEO LINK:
Picnic with the President

CUTLINES

Picnic with the President Edinburg Campus

UTRGV President Guy Bailey greeted students and visitors during the new university’s first Picnic with The President during lunch Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in the Ballroom of the Edinburg Campus. Looking on is Chief of Staff Dr. Janna Arney, vice president for Operations. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

#FirstClass Vaqueros packed the Ballroom on the UTRGV Edinburg Campus

Some 1,500 #FirstClass Vaqueros packed the Ballroom on the UTRGV Edinburg Campus on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, for free hotdogs, chips and cool drinks during the first UTRGV Picnic with The President. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

Picnic with the President Edinburg Campus

Martin Baylor (far left), UTRGV executive vice president for Finance and Administration, helped President Guy Bailey and other members of the administrative team serve up a hotdog lunch to a crowd of some 1,500 students and visitors, during the new university’s first ever Picnic with The President. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

Picnic with the President Edinburg Campus

(From left) Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, Dr. Janna Arney, chief of staff and vice president for Operations, and Dr. Kelly Cronin, vice president for Institutional Advancement, donned their aprons and joined UTRGV President Guy Bailey on the serving line during the new university’s first Picnic with The President. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

MEDIA CONTACTS

Marci.Caltabiano@UTRGV.edu UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications
956-665-2742

Jennifer.McGehee@UTRGV.edu UTRGV Director of Public Relations
956-882-5105