“FROM THE MOMENT JAMES WAS APPOINTED TO THE BOARD OF REGENTS, IT WAS AS IF HE MADE IT HIS PERSONAL GOAL TO FIND OUT ABOUT UTEP, TO EMBRACE ITS PHILOSOPHY AND ITS GOALS.” - Diana Natalicio UTEP President
The grand opening of the new Health Sciences and Nursing Building at The University of Texas at El Paso was met with much anticipation as University, community and statewide leaders gathered to officially welcome the newest addition to campus. The warm late-September afternoon also served as the setting for UTEP President Diana Natalicio to honor James Huffines, former chairman of The University of Texas System Board of Regents, with the President’s Medal.
“I am profoundly touched and honored – it means a great deal to me,” Huffines said. “UTEP was the first campus I visited after being appointed as a regent, and my wife and I fell in love with it from that first visit eight years ago.”
A native of Austin, Texas, Huffines was first appointed to a six-year term on the UT System Board of Regents by Gov. Rick Perry in February 2003. Perry reappointed Huffines for a second consecutive term in 2009.
During his tenure, Huffines became a strong advocate for UTEP’s expansion. As chairman of the Facilities Planning and Construction committee, he was instrumental in securing the resources needed to plan, research and begin many new infrastructure and building projects across the UT System, including the new Health Sciences and Nursing Building (HSN) at UTEP.
“From the moment James was appointed to the Board of Regents, it was as if he made it his personal goal to find out about UTEP, to embrace its philosophy and its goals,” President Natalicio said. “In a way, our mission became his mission – to offer access and excellence in higher education to the young people who live here.”
The President’s Medal is the highest honor the University bestows upon special individuals who exhibit exemplary professional accomplishment and an extraordinary commitment to UTEP and its institutional values. Cast out of argentium silver with gold electroplating accents, the medal features a Bhutanese building representing UTEP’s unique architecture and a mandala made with blue and orange stones on its face.
Huffines is the second recipient of the medal since its establishment in 2010, following El Paso businessman and UTEP friend Woody Hunt. He attended the opening of the HSN Building to witness the state-of-the-art technologies, laboratory spaces and simulation center firsthand.
“I’ve been on every campus in the UT System, and I dare say we really don’t have any facility in the nursing schools and health sciences quite this modern and sophisticated in all aspects,” Huffines said. “I really believe this building will have a much greater impact than just in this community; I think it will have an impact on the region and the state.”
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