UTEP’s original colors were burnt orange and white, adopted from the University of Texas, and shared with UT San Antonio. In 1980 when President Haskell Monroe came to campus he found that many individuals desired to give UTEP an identity of its own. Forging an individual identity included changing the school’s colors and song. Early on Dr. Monroe was presented with a proposal to change the colors to orange and blue. Unfortunately, UT San Antonio changed their colors to orange and blue days before the proposal was presented. This minor issue was quickly resolved by altering the shades of orange and blue. The chosen orange was more “brownish” than “burnt” and was thought to resemble the mountains at the pass. The blue was slightly darker than the blue being used of the old NFL team, the Houston Oilers; the color was identified as “El Paso Bright Blue Sky.”
Once the colors were chosen they needed to be approved by the UT Board of Regents. Officially, the academic colors of all the institutions in the UT system were orange and white but for athletic purposes additional or substitute colors may be used with the Board’s approval. Dr. Monroe presented his argument and the color selection to the Board and they voted in UTEP’s favor. Quickly, implementation of the new colors spread across the campus with pride. Athletic uniforms, Paydirt Pete, Miners Marching Band, and new UTEP Miner clothing reflected the addition of the approved color change. In 1999 the athletic colors were altered once more to their present colors– navy blue, a brighter orange, and the addition of the silver accent color. The official university colors can found on page five of the UTEP Graphic Guide. While the colors may have been altered or added, one aspect remains – – the color orange. Though UTEP may have tried on different shades of orange throughout its history, the color still ties UTEP to the UT institutional system. Perhaps Dr. Monroe explained it best in an interview in Nova; “I wish to emphasize that we are not ‘doing away’ with our orange and white heritage, but, rather, adding to it. The key word in this issue is not change, but enhancement. We must strive for improving school spirit and awareness. The addition to the current school colors offers a starting point in which we hope to create a new era of pride and support for our University.”
[Sources: Email correspondence from Dr. Haskell Monroe to Willie Quinn of the Heritage Commission, February 10, 2005; Nova, “The View from the Hill,” June 1980, and “The Orange & White Blues,” December, 1980; UTEP Graphic Guide, http://universitycommunications.utep.edu/identityguide/download/utepgraphicidentityguide.pdf.]
Ashley Swarthout was a student in the Masters of Arts in Teaching English program at UTEP. She graduated in May 2013 and is now teaches dual credit at Chapin High School.