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Broncs Hall of Famer Luke “Big Jack” Jackson (BS ’73 physical education) never thought he’d have his No. 54 jersey retired at The University of Texas-Pan American. On Feb. 16, Jackson’s jersey number will be raised onto the rafters at the UTPA Fieldhouse at 7 p.m. before the men’s basketball team takes on Houston Baptist as part of UTPA’s Bronc Homecoming Week activities.
The ceremony will be part of a big day for UTPA Athletics as the Hall of Fame Class of 2013 will be inducted at a luncheon to be held at the UTPA Ballroom at 11 a.m. during Bronc Homecoming Week.
“I think it’s a great gesture. It’s good for me, for the school and this is a great way to show their appreciation for what I accomplished during my time there,” said Jackson, who led the then Pan American College (PAC) basketball team to the 1963 NAIA championship. “It shows that Pan Am values what I did as a student athlete and I am truly grateful for this honor.”
Jackson’s No. 54 was originally retired across all sports on Nov. 12, 1964 by the PAC board.
“Luke Jackson gave his heart and his soul to Pan Am,” UTPA President Dr. Robert S. Nelsen said. “He is an amazing athlete who deserves to have his jersey hanging where every athlete and student who enters the UTPA Fieldhouse will see it and dream about what is possible.”
He returned to the University after his pro career with the Philadelphia 76ers in the National Basketball Association (NBA) to complete a couple of classes to finish his degree.
Homecoming Week festivities kick off Feb. 13 with a Homecoming Alumni Mixer at 6 p.m. Tents will be set up and appetizers and refreshments will be served at the Alumni Center located at 2402 S. Closner in Edinburg.
“Although there will be activities that are of interest to our alumni, we encourage the entire community to come celebrate as well,” said Debra Grant, director of Alumni Relations. “We invite people to come on over after work and we are hoping to see many people at our events during the week.”
Another event taking place during homecoming week will be the Alumni Ball scheduled for Feb. 15 at 6:30 p.m. The event will feature a “Viva Las Vegas” casino theme and will be held at the HPE II Building.
“Aside from the fun and excitement at the Alumni Ball, we will also be recognizing and honoring five of our notable alumni, our Pillars of Success,” Grant said.
Pillars of Success to be honored this year are Rene Wallace (AA ’51), retired businesswoman; Ramon Garcia (BA ’70), attorney Hidalgo County Judge; Lydia Rendon (BS ’60), retired educator; Dr. Norma V. Cantu (BA ’73), professor of law and education at UT-Austin; and Dr. Robert Feldtman (BS ’68), thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon.
The public is also invited to the Bronc Madness Tailgate, which will take place at the UTPA Fieldhouse parking lot on Feb. 16 at 3 p.m., followed by the women’s basketball team going up against Utah State at 4:30 p.m.
Homecoming week concludes on Feb. 17 with the Class of ‘63 50-Plus Reunion Champagne Brunch to be held at the UTPA Ballroom at 10:30 a.m.
“We’re recognizing our 1963 class and inducting them into our 50-Year Club. We invite all graduates of this year to come. Admission is free to those who are being inducted,” Grant said.
Grant said it’s important for any university to stay connected with its alumni.
“We want our alumni to know that they are important to us and we want them to reconnect and stay connected to the University,” said Grant. “We need to know who they are. They are the backbone of our community.”
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.