A&M San Antonio celebrates 10 years

May 13, 2019
In The News

Texas A&M University San Antonio broke ground on a new academic and administration building and announced a $1 million gift Monday at a celebration marking 10 years as a standalone university.

The donation, from Financial Literacy of South Texas, will establish a permanent endowment to fund scholarships for students majoring in accounting and finance and to provide stipends for students participating in a financial literacy project sponsored by the university’s Mays Center for Experiential Learning and Community Engagement.

It is one of the largest gifts the still new and growing campus has received, behind a $5 million gift from the Mays Family Foundation in 2017 that established the center itself.

“This gift is significant,” University President Cynthia Teniente-Matson said. “Texas A&M San Antonio is 12th in the nation in graduating Latino accountants and so this type of scholarship helps us to leverage that. One of our core messages is improving financial literacy on the campus, as well as in the community.”

A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, Mayor Ron Nirenberg and U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-San Antonio, attended the outdoor birthday party between the university’s Central Academic Building and a set of portable structures that will be replaced by the new 55,000-square-foot building.

“With what may seem as a simple groundbreaking, we are actually taking action to shape the future of Texas,” said Elaine Mendoza, vice chair of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, who lives in San Antonio.

Teniente-Matson and Bill Spindle, the university’s vice president for business affairs, led the singing of “Happy Birthday,” which was followed by a mariachi performance.

Gov. Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 629, which designated A&M San Antonio as a standalone university, on May 13, 2009, though work to create the school stretched back more than a decade earlier. It admitted only upperclassmen until 2016, when it welcomed its first freshmen cohort. Now, it has nearly 6,700 students and about 10,000 alumni.

It continues to be the fastest growing university in the state, A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said.

The university was a dream of the late State Sen. Frank Madla, who began seeking proposals in the late 1990s. The first classes were taught in 2000 at Palo Alto College under the auspices of Texas A&M University-Kingsville. In 2005, Madla wrote the bill authorizing the creation of A&M San Antonio and in 2006 he secured $40 million in tuition revenue bonds from legislators to begin building the campus.

In his diary, which his son donated to the university, Madla wrote of the “major victory for the South Side.”

“On my last day of the session Texas A&M @ San Antonio became a reality. The Good Lord and my legislative friends gave me a great farewell gift,” Madla wrote. He died in a house fire later that year.

Creating the school was a chance to invest in “what was a once-forgotten part of our city,” Nirenberg said, adding, “It is an opportunity to invest in the future of our workforce and inspire the next generation of leaders.”

Teniente-Matson gave a nod to Madla in her speech Monday, calling the anniversary “a reflection of the opportunities that have been created by the legacy of Sen. Frank Madla and for the many great days that are ahead.”

The university has plans for a varsity athletics program that needs the approval of legislators and A&M regents. University officials also hope lawmakers will approve $53 million in tuition revenue bonds this session to build the second building for its College of Business and move some academic study spaces and common areas together.

“If you think this is something, wait until you have the 20th celebration,” Sharp said.