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  EducationIndividual Institutions: United States
The University of Texas

the largest institution in the Texas university system, with approximately 38,000 undergraduates and 13,000 postgraduates


In 1839, the Congress of the Republic of Texas passed an act locating the seat of government in present-day Austin, and ordering that a site be set aside for the purpose of establishing a university. A subsequent act of the same year allocated 231,400 acres of land, proceeds from the sale of which would be used to establish two colleges or universities. In 1858, the Texas Legislature finally made a financial provision for the university by appropriating the land allocated in 1839. In addition, $100,000 in U.S. bonds remaining from the $10 million paid to Texas in the Compromise of 1850, and the proceeds from selling one section of land out of every ten reserved to the state from grants made by railroads were allocated. Secession and the Civil War prevented any further action, however.

When Texas ratified a new constitution in 1866, one provision directed the legislature to put a university in operation as soon as possible. Texas A&M College was established by the legislature in 1871, but a university was still forthcoming. The constitution of 1876 once again mandated that the legislature establish, organize, and provide for the maintenance and support of a university as soon as possible. The location of the university, which was to be named the University of Texas, was to be determined by a vote of the people, it was to include an agricultural and mechanical branch and a college or branch for the instruction of black youth. No funds were appropriated for any of the mandates, but the original land grant of 1839 was maintained; the gift of alternate sections of railroad land grants was repealed, but those grants were replaced by 1,000,000 acres in West Texas.

On March 30, 1881, an act was passed mandating an election for the university's location, creating a board of regents, and making provisions for admission fees, coeducation, and nonsectarian teaching. Austin was chosen as the site of the main campus on September 6, 1881, and Galveston was made the site of a medical department. Ashbel Smith was elected president of the board of regents on November 16, 1881, the cornerstone of the first Main Building was laid November 17, 1882, and the university formally opened on September 15, 1883.


The main campus of the University of Texas is located in Austin, on a 350-acre tract just north of the State Capitol. The most recognizable landmark in Austin is the Beaux-Arts Main Building, which features the distinctive UT Tower. Completed in 1937, the tower rises 307 feet and can be seen from any part of Austin. The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center houses one of only 21 remaining complete copies of the Gutenberg Bible, and the first permament photograph, "View from the Window at Le Gras," taken by Nicéphore Niépce. The Blanton Museum of Art holds about 17,000 works from Europe, the United States, and Latin America. Darrel K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium is the largest stadium by seating capacity in Texas (94,113).


Satellite campuses in and around Austin include: a 500-acre tract on the banks of the Colorado River donated by George W. Brackenridge in 1910 that is used for life-sciences research; the campus of the former Blind Institute (1925); the Cavanaugh homestead on Waller Creek (1930); the grounds and property of Texas Wesleyan College (1931); the J.J. Pickle Research Campus, a 475-acre site eight miles north of the main campus that houses research organizations in engineering, science, and social sciences; and, the Montopolis Research Center, on 94 acres in southeast Austin. The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, which opened May 22, 1971, and is administered by the National Archives and Records Administration, is located on the eastern side of the main campus.

Campuses and facilities outside of Austin include: the University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory in Jeff Davis County, the University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute at Port Aransas, Winedale Historical Center near Round Top, Bee Cave Research Center west of Austin, the Paisano Ranch, the Sam Rayburn Library in Bonham, and the Institute of Geophysics in Galveston


The university awards over 8,700 bachelor's degrees annually, in more than 170 fields of study and 100 majors. Those fields of study and majors are offered by the following colleges and schools:

College of Liberal Arts (1883) with 19 departments, 1 division, 3 interdisciplinary programs, 5 centers, 2 laboratories
College of Natural Sciences (1883) 11 departments, 1 division, 1 office
School of Law (1883)
Cockrell College of Engineering (1894) 6 departments, 1 laboratory
College of Education (1905) 5 departments, 3 centers, 2 offices, 1 laboratory
Graduate School (1910)
McCombs School of Business (1922) 5 departments
College of Pharmacy (at Galveston 1893, moved to Austin 1927)
College of Fine Arts (1938) 3 departments, gallery, center, office
Graduate School of Library and Information Science (1948)
Graduate School of Social Work (1950)
School of Architecture (1951)
College of Communication (1965) 4 departments, 1 center
Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs (1970)
School of Nursing (1976)
Jackson School of Geosciences (2005)

Research facilities and programs operated by the University of Texas include: Office of Technology Commercialization, a technology transfer center that has created companies to commercialize technology developed at the university; Energy Institute, established in 2009, which advances multi-disciplinary energy research at the university; two of the nation's 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers focusing on battery and solar cell technology and on geological carbon dioxide storage; Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology; Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences; Texas Materials Institute; Center for Nano and Molecular Science and Technology; Microelectronics Research Center; and, Texas Advanced Computing Center, at J.J. Pickle Research Center, which operates the Ranger supercomputer, one of the most powerful in the world.


The University of Texas Longhorns have a long history of athletic excellence in a wide variety of sports. Currently a part of the Big 12 Conference, the Longhorns have more titles overall than any other school in the NCAA, more than 40. Eighty-eight Olympic medalists have played for the Longhorns, including 19 at the 2004 Athens games alone.

Some Notable Alumni

Wes Anderson -- movie writer/director
James Baker -- Secretary of State
Alan Bean (1955) -- fourth astronaut to walk on the Moon
William J. Bennett -- Secretary of Education
Lloyd Bentsen -- U.S. Congressman and Senator
Jenna Bush -- daughter of President George W. and Laura Bush
Laura Bush -- wife of President George W. Bush
Mostafa Chamran -- former Iranian Minister of Defense
Roger Clemens -- professional baseball player
Walter Cronkite -- television news anchor
Michael Dell -- founder of Dell Computers
Donald Evans -- Secretary of Commerce
Farrah Fawcett -- actress
Lady Bird Johnson -- wife of President
Lyndon B. Johnson
Janis Joplin -- rock singer
Jayne Mansfield -- actress
Matthew McConaughey -- actor
Mary Lou Retton -- Olymic gold medal-winning gymnast
Abdullah al-Tariki -- co-founder of OPEC
Fernando Belaúnde Terry (1936) -- President of Peru
Eli Wallach -- author
Renée Zellweger -- actress

The official website of the University of Texas is

Civil War
Nicéphore Niépce
James Baker
Roger Clemens
Lyndon B. Johnson
Janis Joplin
Fernando Belaúnde Terry

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  The Robinson Library > Education > Individual Institutions: United States

This page was last updated on 03/31/2015.

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