The Southwest School of Art is located downtown at the former Ursuline Academy.
Following a signed agreement, the Southwest School of Art will officially be absorbed into the UTSA College of Liberal and Fine Arts. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

The Southwest School of Art will officially become part of the University of Texas at San Antonio in fall 2022, after the boards that oversee both higher education institutions approved an agreement this week to integrate the independent arts college into UTSA’s College of Liberal and Fine Arts.

The two institutions announced plans in August to join forces and create a new downtown college that will preserve the Southwest School of Art’s name, brand, and legacy. The deal, which includes the 6.6 acres of historic structures and downtown properties owned by the art school, will be executed by the end of this year and include an integrated Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program.

“This historic agreement will amplify the impact of the arts for future generations, and it is an unbelievable honor to be a part of it,” Southwest School of Art President Paula Owen said in a prepared statement. “The arts bring people together and articulate the human condition while expressing the inexpressible, giving both joy and solace. Working together, UTSA and SSA will create a beacon for innovative, high quality and deeply meaningful arts education.”

UTSA will keep SSA’s named galleries, studios, and buildings, such as Club Giraud, in an effort to preserve the historic downtown arts school. For 56 years, SSA served San Antonio as an independent arts institution, first as a community school of arts and crafts and later as the state’s only independent college of art.

 “This bold endeavor will bring a multitude of new opportunities for San Antonians and deepen our collective capacity to provide world-class arts education,” UTSA President Taylor Eighmy stated.

The addition of the SSA expands UTSA’s growing downtown presence. The construction of the university’s $90 million School of Data Science and National Security Collaboration Center is underway, and the new arts school’s proximity to the data science school will allow students to use technology in the digital arts space.

UTSA plans to honor SSA’s historic role in the San Antonio community by providing community classes, events, lectures, exhibitions, and partnerships with local leaders and organizations.

“When two institutions of this caliber join forces, it has a tremendous impact for the community at large,” SSA board of trustees Chair Randy Cain stated. “This arrangement will not only further arts education in San Antonio, but also preserve historic buildings and traditions, critical to maintaining the rich culture of our city in perpetuity for decades to come.” 

Brooke Crum

Brooke Crum is the San Antonio Report's education reporter.