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Adventures in Futura: The Evolution of the UTSA Logo

August 5, 2009

For all of its rapid changes, one thing at UTSA has remained pretty stable: the logo. First appearing around 1970, before classes had even begun, the logo has since undergone only two changes in nearly 40 years.

Around the Archives, there’s a clear favorite: it’s logo #1, The Circle. (That’s not an official name.) The Circle is decidedly groovy, with its U curving around to form its T and its S curving right into its A. The S blends into the A so well as to make it almost imperceptible, almost like a logo for UT Arlington. Nevertheless, we love it.


Decal on car window, with Tower of the Americas in background, October 1973, Gil Barrera Photographs of UTSA, MS 27.

“Academic Programs and Documentation” document, circa 1970, UTSA General Information and University History Collection, UA 1.01.

The Circle appears to have stuck around for quite awhile, lasting through the entirety of the ’80s until finally, in June 1994, the UT System Board of Regents approved a new logo. (More information, including alternative logos suggested to the Regents, is available in UA 4.02, Vice President for Business Affairs records.) By around 1996, the old logo was downright prohibited, as shown below.


From “Trademark and Logo” section of the Guide to University Communications, published circa 1996. Available in UA 1.03, the University Archives Vertical File.

The new logo introduced a graphic element into the logo and bid farewell to the groovy Circle. According to the Guide to University Communications (circa 1996), “The University logo contains elements common to the campus and the community. A graphic depicting the Sombrilla, the University’s most identifiable landmark, is contained inside a mission structure meant to represent the city’s heritage. Across the bottom, connecting the University with the community, runs the San Antonio River. The bottom of the mark also can be interpreted as the Texas Hill Country, which borders UTSA on the north and west” (p. 56). Here’s what that looked like (several variations were acceptable):


From “Trademark and Logo” section of the Guide to University Communications, published circa 1996. Available in UA 1.03, the University Archives Vertical File.

In September 2002, it was out with the old, in with the… well, revised. The Mission/Sombrilla/River/Hill Country icon was dropped, and the Futura condensed type “UTSA” wordmark remained as the new logo. Today’s identity guidelines circle-slash the icon, as seen in the screenshot below.


From UTSA Identity Guidelines, Office of University Communications, UTSA website. (Captured August 4, 2009)

The UTSA Today article announcing the change included a quote from David Gabler, then Assistant Vice President for University Communications: “As we approach the new fiscal year and heightened efforts to increase the university’s visibility, we believe this is an optimal time to make this change,” said David Gabler… “I also believe ‘UTSA’ represents the three campuses better than the ‘Sombrilla’ logo, which was designed prior to the existence of UTSA’s Downtown Campus on Frio Street.”

As much as I’d love to see a combination Sombrilla/Bill Miller Plaza/Tower of the Americas logo, well, I’m pretty sure University Communications wouldn’t let me post that anyway.


Today’s logo, in blue. From UTSA Identity Guidelines, Office of University Communications, UTSA website.

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