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SOUTHWEST TEXAS JUNIOR COLLEGE

Ruben E. Ochoa

SOUTHWEST TEXAS JUNIOR COLLEGE. Southwest Texas Junior College, located on Farm Road 1023 in Uvalde, was established in 1946 as the first tricounty junior college in Texas, serving Uvalde, Real, and Zavala counties. Although opposition was strong, a majority voted to establish the college. The campus site had been the location of the Garner Field Army Air Corps flying school (see GARNER ARMY AIR FIELD). Southwest opened in October 1946; chairs were donated by a local funeral home, cafeteria equipment was furnished by the Camp Fawcett Boys Scout Camp, and 1,000 books were contributed by the local chapter of the American Association of University Women. The first year president Vernon D. Parrott was able to secure war surplus items for use at the college. In 1952 Sterling S. Fly, Sr., became president. Most of the World War II buildings were replaced by modern facilities, including Garner Science Center, La Forge Hall (containing a gymnasium, auditorium, cafeteria, and lounge), Richarz Memorial Building (which housed the library containing 16,000 volumes in 1967, administration offices, and a bookstore), and a two-story women's dormitory. These buildings were financed in part by donations from Mr. and Mrs. Joe Richarz, former United States Vice President and Uvalde resident John Nance Garner, and by federal grants. In 1955 La Forge Hall burned, destroying not only the cafeteria, auditorium, and recreation rooms, but many classrooms as well. In 1958 the college constructed a new La Forge Hall. It also purchased the land on which it stood with insurance money from the original La Forge Hall. In 1962 Wayne Mathews succeeded Sterling Fly as president. Students living throughout the district initially rode "The Blue Goose" or one of two station wagons to the college. By 1975 ten buses, four of which were donated by civic organizations in Del Rio, Carrizo Springs, and Eagle Pass, transported students to the college from an area of over 3,500 square miles. Students from other Texas counties or other states were accepted at slightly higher tuition rates. In addition to the regular enrollment in 1964–65, night school enrollment totaled more than 200 students on campus, in Crystal City, and in Del Rio. The two-year program was designed to prepare students for four year colleges, and a one-year program for prospective engineers and one-year and two-year programs in secretarial training, data processing, and nursing were also available. Upper level courses began at the college in 1972 through the sponsorship of Sul Ross University. The enrollment at the Southwest Texas Junior College in the fall of 1974 was 1,606 students; the faculty numbered over sixty members. In 1974 240 students graduated; in 1975 the enrollment increased to 2,065. In 1990 interim president Gerald Underwood directed a student body of 2,598 and seventy-four faculty members; 57 percent of the student body were Mexican-American, 37 percent Anglo-Americans, 1 percent African-American, and 1 percent Asian-American. In 1992–3 the college had eighty faculty members and 2,860 students, and 1,437 students attended the 1992 summer session. Billy Word was president. In addition to the usual college curriculum SWTJC offered courses in farm and ranch management, pilot training, auto mechanics, law enforcement, data processing, computer science, and vocational nursing. The Sul Ross State University Study Center, located in the Anderson Building, offered bachelor and master degree programs in business and marketing-related fields. In 1999 the college operated outreach centers in Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Crystal City, in addition to the main campus in Uvalde. In the fall of that year the enrollment was 3,427, with a faculty of 187. The president was Ismael Sosa, Jr.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 
Ida L. Nielson and Leona Stewart Gray, From Barracks to Bricks: The Southwest Texas Junior College Story (Uvalde: Southwest Texas Junior College, 1972). A Proud Heritage: A History of Uvalde County (Uvalde, Texas: El Progreso Club, 1975). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Ruben E. Ochoa, "SOUTHWEST TEXAS JUNIOR COLLEGE," accessed April 09, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/kcs13.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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