The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year. On June 5, 1969, then Governor Preston Smith signed into law the creation of the university at a ceremony in front of the Alamo, purportedly the first time a Texas Governor had signed a bill outside of Austin. Up until that moment, San Antonio was the only major city in Texas without a public university. 

On June 5, 2019, The UTSA and San Antonio communities gathered in front of the Alamo to mark fifty years since the university’s creation. UTSA President Taylor Eighmy said during the program, “Today we pay homage to UTSA’s first fifty years, but we’re also going to imagine where we’re going to go in the next fifty years.”

UTSA President Taylor Eighmy receives the chain of office during UTSA's 50th Anniversary Commemorative Celebration in front of the Alamo. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio

One of the major avenues for UTSA’s future growth became apparent last fall, when the university announced that in partnership with local entrepreneur and philanthropist Graham Weston, The City of San Antonio, and Bexar County, the UTSA Downtown Campus would expand throughout the urban core as a distributed campus, bringing unprecedented amounts of academic and economic activity to downtown.

In light of these exciting changes, UTSA reached out to Centro San Antonio (Centro) to see how the downtown neighborhood could play a role in celebrating the university’s birthday week. Centro and UTSA, with partners at City Council District 1 and Center City Development and Operations Department (CCDO), rallied downtown landmarks and organizations to turn their lights orange every night from June 3rd through June 9th. Click here for a list of the participating locations.

“By lighting the city orange to commemorate the university’s 50th anniversary,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy, “we are reminded that this special occasion is a city-wide achievement. Together, UTSA and San Antonio are creating a world-class community where every individual has an opportunity to thrive.”

UTSA officials and community leaders gather for a group photo in front of the Alamo. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio 

The energy surrounding the 50th Anniversary of San Antonio’s oldest public university can be felt from the streets of downtown to social media posts and selfies.

While Centro staff were laying out UTSA 50th Anniversary stencils on Houston Street this week, they ran into a UTSA alumna on an e-bike who enthusiastically wished her alma mater a happy birthday.

“It’s inspiring to see the downtown stakeholders and the community rally behind this major milestone,” said Elizabeth “Liz” Burt, Director of Placemaking and Programming at Centro, “We stand united and committed to continuing this momentum as the Downtown Campus vision comes to fruition.”

Centro San Antonio wishes to thank UTSA, City Council District 1, CCDO, and all our lighting partners for this tremendous partnership and celebration. Here’s to the next 50 years!

The UTSA Marching Band performs 'UTSA Fight Song' during the 50th Anniversary celebration at Alamo Plaza. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio

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