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Happy 10th Birthday A&M-San Antonio

Express-News Editorial BoardMay 27, 2019

Texas A&M University-San Antonio has much to celebrate.

The campus recently marked its 10th year as a stand-alone campus, broke ground on a new academic and administration building and was the recipient of a $1 million gift for a scholarship endowment fund.

Its list of successes just keeps growing and is well merited.

The fledgling campus has come far during its short existence. The first classes for what would later become pride to the South Side were taught at Palo Alto College under the auspices of A&M-Kingsville.

Initially the school only offered upper level classes, and that continued even after the school became a stand-alone university in 2009. A&M-San Antonio began admitting underclassmen in 2016. This academic school year it boasted an enrollment of 6,700 students. Its goal is to have 10,000 students enrolled by the fall of 2021, and judging by it track record that is well within its reach.

Attracting students to campus is tough, as is keeping them enrolled until graduation. A&M-San Antonio is helping many first generation college students reach their higher education goals; 74 percent of the students enrolled at the school are the first in their families to go to college. The university offers 26 undergraduate degrees and 13 graduate degrees. The school has awarded approximately 10,000, including 1,476 degrees awarded in 2018.

A&M is not alone in San Antonio in making higher education available to first-generation collegegoers. University of the Incarnate Word is a standout among private universities hereabouts in this regard. But we note A&M’s achievements because it is a public university — essentially owned by Texans. What it does in this regard bears special scrutiny.

The university’s road to success had its bumps. It required a hard fought battle in the legislature by the late state Sen. Frank Madla to launch the project, and it was his tenacity that kept the project moving along during its early stages. Securing funding and expanding the course offerings were no minor feat but those early battles are paying big dividends.

University President Cynthia Teniente-Matson reports that Texas A&M-San Antonio is 12th in the nation in graduating Latino accountants. The school’s recent $1 million gift from Financial Literacy of South Texas will establish a permanent endowment for scholarships for accounting and finance majors. The endowment will also be used to provide stipends for participants in a financial literacy project.

The university has ambitious plans. It is seeking approval of $53 million in tuition revenue bonds from the legislature this session to build the second building for its College of Business. The school is also asking state lawmakers for support of its plans to explore its intercollegiate sports options. The student body recently approved the collection of a sport fee to help fund those efforts. School officials would like roll out men’s and women’s soccer, women’s softball and men’s golf in 2020.

It was not too long ago the area near Loop 410 and Zarzamora was nothing more than open pastures. There is still much open land but the development of A&M-San Antonio on 580 acres of donated land at that location has forever changed the landscape. The university is spurring major change in the South Side — desperately needed change.

As A&M-San Antonio continues to improve the higher education attainment levels in our community it is also serving as a major economic catalyst in a sector that has been long underserved.

We eagerly await to see what the next 10 years bring.

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