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UTSA celebrates 50th birthday with commemoration of Alamo bill signing

UTSA celebrates 50th birthday with commemoration of Alamo bill signing

On June 5, 1969, Texas Gov. Preston Smith signs House Bill 42 on the back of Rep. Frank Lombardino in front of the Alamo, creating UTSA.

(June 5, 2019) -- Today marks a milestone signifying the resolve and determination of state leaders to bring higher education to San Antonio, a city even then on the brink of a population surge. Fifty years ago, The University of Texas at San Antonio was established as the first four-year, public university in the city.

While the university’s birthday will be celebrated today at many different gatherings, the most symbolic event will be a commemoration of the original bill signing in front of the Alamo at 5 p.m.

On June 5, 1969, Governor Preston Smith signed House Bill 42 on the back of State Representative Frank Lombardino, the bill’s key sponsor, with the Alamo exterior in view. It was the first time a Texas governor had ever signed a bill into law outside of Austin, a moment that signified the state’s commitment to higher education for a city in need of new opportunities for its workforce and future.

At the Alamo event in 1969, San Antonio Chamber of Commerce President John Steen said, “This signing marks if not the greatest day in the history of this 251-year-old city, then at least the greatest in the history of higher education.”

>> Reminisce about the day that UTSA was born.

Today, as UTSA commemorates its 50-year journey, it celebrates the many achievements that have built momentum toward its strategic destinations. It is rapidly becoming a model for student success, a great public research university, and an exemplar for strategic growth and innovative excellence. As San Antonio’s largest university, UTSA is uniquely positioned to tackle society’s grandest challenges due to its expertise and deep integration in a region that reflects the demographic future of the United States.

Most importantly, UTSA is a prosperity engine that is changing lives through affordable, accessible higher education. Last month, more than 5,100 students crossed the Alamodome stage to receive their degrees as their families and friends watched. These new graduates bring UTSA’s alumni network to more than 131,000 Roadrunners, two-thirds of whom have remained in San Antonio to live, work and serve.

>> Learn about UTSA's 10-year strategic plan.

The journey has also included a moment, nearly 50 years later in 2018 when another city leader would speak words similar to those of Steen’s in 1969. At a news conference to announce the expansion of the UTSA Downtown Campus, entrepreneur, investor and developer Graham Weston said on Sept. 18, “Every once in a while, something comes along that changes everything and this is one of those days. This is the biggest announcement for downtown San Antonio in 50 years.”

            >> Read about the Downtown Campus expansion.

UTSA and San Antonio are working together to build a better city by creating vast opportunities for San Antonians.

President Taylor Eighmy, UTSA’s sixth president, said, “What’s wonderful about San Antonio is that it’s multicultural; it’s vibrant. It’s a place where young people want to come and live. It’s a city with rich culture and rich heritage. It’s a city that’s on the move. It’s a city with great future potential.”

Such also is San Antonio’s largest university.

Today, UTSA celebrates its rich heritage and the vast opportunities ahead that all began in front of the Alamo, a place Texans associate with commitment, resolve and purpose 50 years ago.

Pamela Lutrell

Celebrate UTSA’s 50th Anniversary and share social media posts about the 50th using the hashtag #UTSA50.

Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn.

UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.




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UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.