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History of UTSA

Founded by the 61st Texas Legislature on June 5, 1969, UTSA was commissioned as a university of the first class, offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees as are offered at leading American universities.

Until UTSA was established, San Antonio was the only major city in the nation not served by a public university. Community leaders, legislators and the public knew that if San Antonio were to achieve its full potential, a university would be needed to offer a comprehensive array of courses and degree programs.

The University’s first two presidents, Arleigh B. Templeton and Peter T. Flawn, worked diligently to hire faculty, develop a curriculum and library, and finalize the plans for the campus, which would be built on 600 acres near the junction of Interstate 10 and Loop 1604 in northwest San Antonio. At the time of construction from 1972 to 1976, the UTSA campus was the largest university construction project in the country, comprising seven major buildings.

In summer 1973, UTSA admitted 671 graduate students and began classes taught by 52 faculty members in leased facilities at the Koger Center. Master’s degrees were offered in business administration, education, bicultural-bilingual studies, English as a second language, environmental management, Spanish, biology, mathematics and systems design. In September 1975, UTSA began classes at the Main Campus with more than 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

UTSA experienced rapid enrollment growth throughout the 1980s while James W. Wagener served as president. New buildings were added and degree programs developed as the campus began to take on much of its present character. In February 1986, the UT System designated the Institute of Texan Cultures as a UTSA campus.

In 1990, UTSA’s fourth president, Samuel A. Kirkpatrick, began a new phase of university history by initiating a comprehensive strategic planning process and securing funds for building construction. In 1997, UTSA opened the Downtown Campus west of Interstate 10 in the historic Cattleman Square area.

In 1999, Ricardo Romo became UTSA’s fifth president and ushered in a new era of community involvement and academic excellence. A native of San Antonio, Romo expanded the University’s commitment to providing access to quality higher education while guiding the UTSA community to better integrate its three campuses: Main, Downtown and HemisFair Park.

In recent years, UTSA acquired an additional 125 acres near the Main Campus, UTSA Park West, to accommodate new athletics and recreational facilities, and increased the size of the Downtown Campus to 18 acres. The University has an expanded University Center and student housing including the advanced Alvarez Hall. As of fall 2013, more than 4,300 students live on campus. Activities and programs are hosted by more than 300 multicultural student organizations.

In 2010, the University installed the world’s most powerful electron microscope, opened the first bookless library on a U.S. college or university campus, and signed a $50 million agreement with CPS Energy to conduct sustainable energy research. Also, UTSA received its largest gift from an individual—an estimated $28 million from the estate of Mary E. McKinney that will fund UTSA scholarships in perpetuity.

UTSA offers more than 140 degree programs with nearly 29,000 students enrolled, including more than 4,000 graduate students. UTSA is a university of first choice for students from Texas, across the nation and more than 85 countries. More than 58 percent of UTSA students are from underrepresented groups, and 55 percent are first-generation college students. UTSA now has more than 96,000 alumni.

Playing home games in the Alamodome, UTSA’s football team broke NCAA start-up program records for first-game attendance (56,743) and average attendance (35,521) during its inaugural season in 2011. In 2012, Roadrunner football celebrated a winning season as a member of the Western Athletic Conference and accepted an invitation to join Conference USA in 2013.

The University has had 80 Fulbright scholars, and 98 percent of the tenured and tenure-track faculty have doctorates or terminal degrees. The UTSA faculty includes international research leaders in the fields of health, cyber security, energy and sustainability, and human and social development.

With research as diverse as its students, the University receives grants from federal, state and local agencies, and private foundations supporting research, public service and training. UTSA spent more than $79 million in fiscal year 2011 for research and sponsored programs.

In April 2012, UTSA publicly launched its inaugural capital campaign with a goal of $120 million. In February 2013, the University received a $5 million gift from H-E-B to establish a fund to match private gifts, making available $10 million to recruit world-class faculty. Following remarkable early success, the University increased the goal to $175 million and will continue the campaign through 2015.

UTSA is a university of continuing achievement with internationally recognized academic programs, award-winning faculty and sophisticated science, technology and recreational facilities. UTSA has recognized arts and humanities programs and diverse, dynamic student life. Increasingly, the University is recognized as a leader in higher education and research, and recently was ranked by Times Higher Education among the top 100 universities under 50 years old.

As an intellectual and creative resource center and a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property for Texas and beyond, The University of Texas at San Antonio is committed to becoming a Tier One research university providing access to educational excellence and preparing leaders for the global environment.