Passers-by take photos with the large UTSA letters in front the Alamo.
Passers-by take photos with the large UTSA letters in front the Alamo, where the bill that created the university was officially signed into law. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

The University of Texas at San Antonio celebrated its 50th anniversary Wednesday evening at the same site where the bill that created the university was officially signed into law.

On June 5, 1969, Governor Preston Smith signed House Bill 42 in front of the Alamo, establishing UTSA as the first four-year public university in San Antonio.

Wednesday’s event featured the UTSA marching band and choir, as well as Poet Laureate of Texas Carmen Tafolla, who wrote a poem for the event. Hope Andrade, a member of the Alamo Endowment Board of Directors, gave the initial remarks.

“We stand on hallowed grounds, where monumental events have occurred for 300 years,” Andrade said during her remarks. “UTSA and the Alamo each tell the history of our world and instill in others a passion for learning.”

Other key figures in UTSA’s history and the San Antonio community, such as former Texas Lieutenant Governor Ben F. Barnes, who helped pass HB 42, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, and Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott, joined in the festivities.

UTSA alumnus A.J. Rodriguez was the master of ceremonies at the event. His grandfather, father, and daughter also attended the university.

“It was more of a commuter school when it started, but it also garnered a lot of interest,” Rodriguez said. “Now, it’s a full-fledged institution that is serving our community in ways the founders probably could never have dreamed.”

This celebration comes during the initial stages of UTSA’s plans to expand its campus and academic programs, and UTSA President Taylor Eighmy focused on the progress of the university and his plans for growth.

UTSA President Taylor Eighmy.
UTSA President Taylor Eighmy Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

“I am expecting that our impact will be more profound, more recognized, and more understood by our community,” Eighmy said. “I think that the people of our city will begin to understand the kinds of things we do that transform lives.”

Eighmy said that students have been instrumental in the development and history of the school. Temilola Adedipe, a bioengineering senior and Ms. UTSA 2019, attended the event. She said that looking back on all UTSA has done inspired her to help her community.

“Being here today feels like we are turning fifty, but we should be turning two hundred with all the great things we’ve done,” Adedipe said. “The future of UTSA is very bright; I can already see it.”

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Laura Morales

Laura Morales is a freshman studying journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and a contributor to The Daily Texan.