A Name You Can Trust (But Not Pronounce)

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You’ve heard the phrase, “What’s in a name?” Let me tell you—a lot. Especially in the name of this magazine, the Alcalde, which in Spanish means, roughly, “mayor.” First published by the Ex- Students’ Association in April 1913, the Alcalde took its name from Oran Roberts, a former Texas governor and UT law professor, who signed the University’s charter. His nickname was “The Old Alcalde.”

One hundred years later, people still can’t pronounce it. Properly inflected, it is “all-call-day.” From the tongue of a native Spanish speaker it has quite the mellifluous ring. But from a non-Spanish speaker, it can really bounce out badly. The most common mutations are: “accolade,” a tolerable if unfortunate malapropism; and “alcade,” which is nonsense. Some East Texans I know can really stretch it out—“al-Cal-dee”—but at least they get all the right syllables in there.

What’s in the name Alcalde is, first, history. A century of it now, and admittedly not all of it sterling to modern eyes. A few years ago, the University found itself caught in a controversy after it was revealed that Simkins Hall was named for a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. Those calling for the dorm’s renaming dug up a 1916 article that ran in Alcalde under Simkins’ byline that, to modern ears, sounds racist and inappropriate. The Houston Chronicle opined days later that the Ex-Students’ Association should rename the Alcalde itself, since its namesake, Oran Roberts, chaired Texas’ secessionist convention. (Needless to say, we politely ignored them.)

What else is in the name Alcalde is ambition. What this magazine has tried to do is host a discussion about The University of Texas and its alumni. Almost everyone who receives this magazine has a college degree. Of all the demographic features within the ranks of Texas Exes that is the most instructive one we all share. Combine that with the Texas Exes’ independence and what you have is the makings of a magazine that can host honest, thoughtful discussions about issues, and has for a century.

The May|June issue, our centennial, is no different. Throughout these pages, you’ll see material reprinted from the Alcalde’s coverage of major episodes in the University’s past, from mobilizing for world wars to integrating the campus to organizing a response to Charles Whitman’s infamous terror spree. In a special feature, we have tried once again to unpack what the founders of Texas meant when they wrote, “The Legislature shall, as soon as practicable, establish, organize and provide for the maintenance, support and direction of a university of the first class.” Relying on alumni, faculty, administrators, and students, we are hosting the discussion about what our University can and should be in the 21st century.

The name Alcalde may not be the easiest to pronounce, and it might not be the clearest. But at least it’s memorable. And whether you think of us as the accolade, the alcade, or something else altogether, know that our goal is to host a discussion that challenges, informs, and involves you for at least another 100 years.

Tim Taliaferro


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