A true original
Trailblazing cheerleader among first to receive new ring
Alumnus Dickie Fears was a maverick long before UT Arlington adopted its “Be A Maverick” motto a few years ago. As the first African-American cheerleader, he refused to wear a uniform with the Confederate flag on it and urged administrators to drop Rebels as the University’s mascot.
President James D. Spaniolo presents a Maverick class ring to Dickie Fears (’72). Introduced last spring, the rings feature Blaze, the UT Arlington mascot, in the middle of the graduation year, and the beveled star from the University logo.
By the time he graduated in 1972, UT Arlington had become the Mavericks, but class rings still depicted the Rebel theme. So Fears wore no school ring until the Alumni Association introduced the official Maverick ring in April.
He was among the first to receive one during ceremonies in the Lone Star Theater. “I’m overwhelmed to have an original class ring,” he says.
A committee of alumni, students and staff designed the ring in summer 2008 and unveiled it during Homecoming in February.
One side features the UT Arlington mascot, Blaze, in the middle of the graduation year. Underneath is the main Cooper Street bridge with the University seal below it. Under the seal are the historic Carlisle Cannons representing the University’s military history and the beveled star from the current UT Arlington logo.
On the other side the ring depicts the Central Library and library mall, which mark the center of campus. The sidewalks symbolize Mavericks coming from different paths in life but heading toward the common goal of knowledge.
Look closely, and you’ll see a squirrel in the tree on the mall.
“The tree with the squirrel on it reminded me of the many days I sat under the trees studying on the yard of the campus,” said Fears, who now lives in Everman and was the first African American to be selected school favorite, the equivalent of today’s Mr. UTA.
A column of Preston Hall spans the ring’s base to represent the University’s historic architecture, and the words “Be A Maverick” appear inside every ring.
Students wear the ring with the school name facing them. Upon the granting of degrees at commencement, graduates turn the ring so the name faces outward, symbolizing their readiness to face the world.