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Early UTSA Planning, Part III: Site Selection

April 5, 2012

As early as January, 1969, six months before UTSA was officially established by the Texas Legislature, articles were already beginning to appear in San Antonio newspapers speculating on the future location of the UTSA campus. Over the next eleven months, speculation on the future home of the campus ran rampant in the city’s newspapers as negotiations were made behind the scenes. The University of Texas Board of Regents had a pool of ten potential site locations that were offered for donation to the system for the new campus.

Proposed sites for the new UTSA campus, circa 1969, UA 1.03 University Vertical Files, Office of Facilities Planning and Construction.

The site selection issue quickly became politically charged as competing groups began advocating for potential sites. The primary contenders for the future campus were:

  • 16 acres offered by the City of San Antonio City Council in the recently completed HemisFair Park
  • 300 acres close to the Southwest Research Foundation offered by the estate of the Tom Slick
  • ‘County Farm,’ or ‘Southton,’ property on the former site of the county boys’ detention and convalescent home, which was backed by a faction of the Good Government League
  • 8,348 acre San Antonio Ranch near Helotes, owned by a nine person consortium which would donate 1,000 acres for the university campus, while reserving the remaining land for future commercial and residential development
  • ‘Delaven’ property consisting of 250 acres located near the intersection of the Loop 1604  and IH 10, which was eventually chosen by the Board of Regents for the future campus of UTSA

In a speech on the silver anniversary of UTSA, former Texas State Senator Joe Bernal asserted that the selection of the ‘Delaven’ site on the far outskirts of San Antonio was influenced by the Texas Coordinating Board’s recommendation for a site that allowed ample future growth for UTSA and provided a minimum donation of 200 acres.[1] The ‘Delaven’ site also was located in the northwest quadrant of the city, which John Peace and other University of Texas System administrators had identified as the area with the largest college age population in the city.

 

College-bound seniors in Bexar County 1968-1968, UA 1.01 General Information and University History Collection, Establishment of UTSA, Assorted General Histories of UTSA.

Based on data of college-bound seniors in Bexar County for 1968-1969, 37% or 2,121 college bound seniors were located in the northwest quadrant of the city compared to 22% in the northeast quadrant, 26% in the southwest quadrant, and 15% in the southeast quadrant. These two factors—future growth and demographics of college bound seniors —heavily influenced the selection of the future UTSA campus despite the apparent drawbacks of selecting a site far from San Antonio’s population center.


[1] Bernal, Joe. “The Political Context of UTSA’s Founding: Shaping the Future.” Silver Anniversary Symposia, Laurel Room, University Center, February 23, 1995.

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