On December 6, 2012, University of Texas Board of Regents approved a proposal to abolish The University of Texas Pan American and The University of Texas at Brownsville, and create the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in their place. The new institution was planned to include a medical school.
On November 6, 2014, The University of Texas Board of Regents approved the "Vaqueros" as the athletic nickname for University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. They also approved the official colors blue, green and orange.
Eleven colleges and schools will form the academic foundation for UTRGV, including:
UTRGV College/School founding
College of Medicine
College of Medicine and Health Affairs*
College of Health Affairs
College of Sciences
College of Liberal Arts
College of Fine Arts
College of Engineering and Computer Science
College of Business and Entrepreneurship
College of Education and P-16 Integration
When the UTRGV School of Medicine is fully accredited, a College of Medicine and Health Affairs will be formed that will include Nursing, Social Work, and Allied Health. Until that time, UTRGV will operate a College of Medicine and College of Health Affairs on an interim basis.
The choice of a new university mascot was contentious. Many UTPA supporters argued for keeping the UTPA mascot, Bucky the Bronc, while UTB supporters argued strongly for a new mascot. Several local city councils passed resolutions in support of one option or the other. President Guy Bailey recommended a new mascot, Vaqueros, to the University of Texas System Board of Regents on November 5, 2014. The suggestion for Vaquero was partly inspired by UTPA student art projects, where the Vaquero and Toro were the most popular projects.
Bailey also recommended school’s colors be UT system orange, green (formerly the secondary color of UTPA) and blue (formerly the secondary color of UTB).
The announcement to the decision generated a swift and mainly negative reaction on social media, with accusations the name was culturally insensitive, racist, and sexist. Neverthe less, the University of Texas Board of Regents approved the recommendation the following day. Bailey considered the decision "final" following the approval by the board of regents. Texas legislator Terry Canales suggested he was considering filing a bill requiring UTRGV to abandon the Vaquero mascot. About 500 students protested against the Vaquero mascot on the UTPA campus on 13 November 2014. Following the protests, the UT System issued a press release supporting the "Vaquero" decision.