Felix D. Almaraz Jr.
UTSA Spotlight: Felix D. Almaraz Jr. says Downtown Campus is a good place to meet people from the community
By James Benavides
Public Affairs Specialist
(Feb. 27, 2008)--Felix D. Almaraz Jr., UTSA Peter T. Flawn Distinguished Professor of Borderlands History, has been a member of the history faculty for 38 years at both the 1604 and Downtown campuses.
A teacher of both undergraduate and graduate students, Almaraz has worked at the Downtown Campus since it opened 10 years ago.
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JB: What is different now at the Downtown Campus, as compared to 10 years ago?
FA: The UTSA Downtown Campus is still an exciting place to work, as far as doing research, composition and teaching. It is also easier to meet people from the adjoining community to exchange ideas and impressions on projects of mutual interest, such as Texas, San Antonio and the Borderlands.
JB: What is the biggest challenge in working at the Downtown Campus?
FA: The biggest challenge now is finding adequate classrooms in which to assign classes. Too many classrooms are disappearing and have been transformed into offices, bureaus and cubbyholes for ambitious bureaucrats. Also, parking spaces are becoming scarce and tickets more frequent.
JB: From your point of view, what is the Downtown Campus' role at UTSA?
FA: UTSA del Centro is the new front door to UTSA del Norte. What happens here is the place of first impressions. Visiting the 1604 del Norte Campus is an experience in frustration for most first-time visitors.
JB: What is the Downtown Campus' role in the community?
FA: The role of everyone down here, faculty and staff, is to serve the public -- to greet everyone who comes into the campus as if he or she were the most important person to enter the facility. So far, we have not lost the feeling and attitude that we are a community of scholars, staff and students. The cleaning staff are just as important as the highest administrator.
JB: Describe your best day or memory at the Downtown Campus.
FA: My best day is one when I am contacted by long-distance telephone and invited to participate in an event here, there or around the world. Last year, in November, my best day was when I was interviewed by a crew from BBC Scotland at the Menger Hotel about a Scot who visited San Antonio in 1879 -- Robert Bodine Cunningham Graham.
My interview will be telecast this year in a program entitled simply, "Don Roberto" -- because Cunningham Graham had lived among the gauchos of Argentina and they called him Don Roberto. The telecast will catapult the UTSA Downtown Campus around the world!