FROM THE FALL 2017 ISSUE
Peter T. Flawn, who from 1973 to 1977 was UTSA’s second president and led the university in a vigorous period of expansion, died in Austin on May 7 at age 91.
“Dr. Flawn was asked to comment about his time at UTSA and whether it had been overshadowed by his time in Austin. Without missing a beat, he responded, ‘UTSA, the best job I ever had!’”
Under Flawn’s leadership UTSA raised admission standards, dramatically increased the number of endowed faculty positions, and adopted a core curriculum. He oversaw the bricks-and-mortar construction of the university, including classrooms, laboratories, and roads, and under his leadership, classes began at the newly built Main Campus in 1975.
“UTSA left an indelible impression on Dr. Flawn, just as he had an indelible impact on San Antonio,” says Pedro Reyes, former UTSA interim president. “We would not be the great city that we are without his foundational work and commitment to making higher education achievable for every member of our community.”
In later years, while discussing his presidential contributions, says Reyes, “Dr. Flawn was asked to comment about his time at UTSA and whether it had been overshadowed by his time in Austin. Without missing a beat, he responded, ‘UTSA, the best job I ever had!’”
After leaving UTSA, Flawn served from 1979 to 1985 as president of UT Austin, where he is credited for spearheading the university’s transformation into a top public research university.
“When one looks back at the intellectual giants that led [Texas universities], Flawn’s name will be right at the top of the list,” says William McRaven, chancellor of The University of Texas System. “He dedicated his life to educating the young men and women…of Texas.”
“UTSA left an indelible impression on Dr. Flawn, just as he had an indelible impact on San Antonio.”
Born in 1926, Flawn studied at Oberlin College and earned his master’s degree and doctorate in geology at Yale University. In 1949 after a stint at the U.S. Geological Survey he began an illustrious career in geological research at UT Austin’s Bureau of Economic Geology. From 1960 to 1970 Flawn was director of the bureau and a professor in UT Austin’s geological sciences department. He became professor of geological sciences and public affairs in 1970.
While many people know Flawn as a university president, he also enjoyed a distinguished career as a geologist and research professor, including being elected to the National Academy of Engineering.