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UTSA Presidents

Ricardo Romo

Ricardo Romo

1999-present

Ricardo Romo became the fifth president of The University of Texas at San Antonio in May 1999. As President, he leads one of the fastest-growing institutions of higher education in Texas and the nation. UTSA, under his leadership, is now poised to become the state's next premier research university. President Romo has led strategic efforts to enhance both access to education and excellence in scholarship and service at the University.

During President Romo's tenure, UTSA's enrollment has grown 53%, and the University has added numerous programs and facilities to enhance student life. The number of doctoral degree programs has increased from three to 21. He also has implemented new student support programs designed to help students succeed at earning a university degree. The number of advisers has tripled, and UTSA, with nearly 29,000 students in 2009, is recognized as a leader in "Closing the Gaps," a statewide initiative by the Legislature to enroll more Texans in higher education.

A native of San Antonio's West Side, President Romo graduated from Fox Tech High School and attended The University of Texas at Austin on a track scholarship. He served as captain of the track and cross-country team and earned All-American honors in 1966. Romo was the first Texan to run the mile in less than four minutes, and his mile record lasted 41 years.

He earned a B.S. degree in education (1967), a master's degree in history from Loyola Marymount University (1970) and a Ph.D. in history from UCLA (1975). A nationally respected urban historian, Romo is the author of "East Los Angeles: History of a Barrio," which is now in its ninth printing (one in Spanish).

Romo began his career as a social studies coordinator in the Los Angeles public schools in 1967. He taught as an assistant professor at California State University at Northridge (1970-1973) then at UC San Diego (1973-1980). In 1980, he returned to UT Austin to teach history. Prior to joining UTSA, Romo served at UT Austin as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (1993-1999).

Romo serves on nearly 20 boards, many of them in San Antonio. He is active on several museum boards and is especially proud of his work with the United Way. In December 2004, Secretary of State Colin Powell appointed Romo as a U.S. representative to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization. In January 2005, Romo was appointed to the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, San Antonio branch, and was reappointed in 2007. He was elected chairman of the board for the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (the largest U.S. Hispanic Chamber organization) for 2006. In 2007, Governor Rick Perry appointed Romo to serve on the Commission for College Ready Texas.

Romo has received many honors during his academic career. In 2006, Romo was honored by the UT Austin Friar Society as Outstanding Friar Alumnus. In November 2007, he was recognized with the Isabel la Catolica award, the highest award given to non-Spanish subjects, bestowed upon him by King Juan Carlos of Spain. In October 2008, Romo received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Texas Exes Alumni Association.

President Romo is married to Dr. Harriett Romo, a Professor of Sociology at UTSA. She also serves as Director of UTSA's Mexico Center and the Bank of America Child and Adolescent Policy Research Institute (CAPRI). They have one son, Carlos, who earned degrees from Stanford University and The University of Texas School of Law. Their daughter, Anadelia, a graduate of Princeton University, received a doctoral degree from Harvard University and presently teaches at Texas State University.


Samuel Kirkpatrick

Samuel A. Kirkpatrick

1990-1999

During Sam Kirkpatrick's tenure as the fourth president of UTSA, demand for higher education in San Antonio and the surrounding South Texas area increased. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board recognized UTSA as the state's fastest-growing public university. Additionally, UTSA became one of the most comprehensive Hispanic serving institutions in the nation contributing significantly to the proportion of Hispanics with university degrees. Starting in 1993, the University began a series of major building projects, including the UTSA downtown campus, and the Main Campus Business Building, Biosciences Building and expansion of the University Center. Under Kirkpatrick's guidance, the UTSA added 26-degree programs, over 200 tenured and tenure track faculty and offered its first two doctoral degrees.

Kirkpatrick earned an undergraduate degree in education from Shippensburg University and a masters and Ph.D. in political science from Pennsylvania State University.

He served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University just prior to joining UTSA.


James Wagener

James W. Wagener

1978-1990

When James Wagener became UTSA's third president, the University was exploding with enrollment. In fall 1979, just three months after the Main Campus opened, the student body nearly reached 10,000. In the beginning of Dr. Wagener's tenure, the University formed its first sorority and fraternity, created the Alumni Association, and University athletics joined the NCAA Division 1. In 1986, the Institute of Texan Cultures became part of the University, the University Center opened, the first residential facility, Chisholm Hall opened, and the UTSA Small Business Development Center, now known as the Institute for Economic Development, was created.

Wagener earned an undergraduate degree in English from Southern Methodist University and a masters in English and a Ph.D. in history and philosophy of education from UT Austin. He joined UTSA after serving as acting dean at the UTHSC and assistant to the chancellor for academic affairs and assistant vice chancellor for academic programs for the UT System.


Peter Flawn

Peter T. Flawn

1973-1978

UTSA's second president, Peter Flawn took a hands-on approach to managing the new university as soon as he came on board and was a familiar figure on the construction site of the new campus. Dr. Flawn was president when the first UTSA classes were held at the Koger Executive Center during the summer of 1973. Flawn oversaw many milestones during his five-year tenure including receiving the first shipment of 120,000 books for the UTSA library, presiding over the first commencement ceremony in 1974 when degrees were awarded to 82 students, and being instrumental in the University receiving full accreditation for graduate programs by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Flawn earned an undergraduate degree from Oberline College and a masters and Ph.D. in geology from Yale University. Flawn joined UTSA after serving 24 years at UT Austin first as a research scientist and geologist in the university's Bureau of Economic Geology, and then as director of the division of Natural Resources and the Environment and university vice president and executive vice president for academic affairs.


Arleigh Templeton

Arleigh B. Templeton

1970-1973

As the first president of UTSA, Dr. Templeton began his tenure in July 1970 when the university was little more than an idea. By the time he left in late 1972, construction had begun on the first seven buildings. The UTSA campus was, at that time, the largest new university under construction in the United States. While President, Dr. Templeton secured continuing operating revenues, hired the first faculty and staff and won approval for 38 initial degree programs.

Templeton earned his undergraduate degree from Sam Houston State and a masters and Ph.D. in education from the University of Houston. Templeton dedicated his career to Texas education, first as a high school Principal and later as Superintendent of Schools for several school systems before serving as President of Sam Houston State University immediately preceding his tenure at UTSA.