Early Planning of UTSA: Making a Case
A number of individuals and organizations were instrumental in the creation, planning, and construction of the UTSA campus in the late 1960s through the early 1970s. Over the next several months, The Top Shelf will feature a series of posts focusing on the early planning and construction of the new UTSA campus highlighting materials from the University Archives.
We will begin today with the preliminary stages of a bill in the Texas Legislature to establish a branch of the University of Texas in San Antonio. The primary impetus behind the push to establish a four-year university in San Antonio was to ameliorate the lack of access to higher education in San Antonio and South Texas. In a presentation to the House State Affairs Committee in February, 1969, the President of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, John T. Steen, argued that only 5,789 students were enrolled in higher education—only .7% of the entire population of the city. He contrasts this with other areas in the state, such as Travis County, where 3.6 % of the population was enrolled in an institution of higher education.
He offered several locations in and around the San Antonio area that could be donated to the state as a possible location for the construction of a state-sponsored university. Steen also pointed out that San Antonio was the largest metropolitan area in the United States without a four-year state- supported institution of higher learning.
Only four months later, in large part to the canvassing of Steen and many other like-minded individuals and organizations, San Antonio would have its first public four-year university.