The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983

The University's Centennial: A Commemoration
$381,518,462 for the University of Texas at Austin for the forth-
coming academic year. The size of the budget, the more than 48,000
students and over 16,ooo faculty and staff that cram the 388-acre cam-
pus, and the imposing 3o7-foot tower of the administration building
that dominates the institution, located less than a mile north of the
magnificent capitol, are visual evidence of how far, in a material sense,
the University and the state of Texas have come since that day in 1881
when the legislature approved the enabling act to create "a university
of the first class," as mandated by the Constitution of 1876. The first
board was so disheartened about the University's financial condition in
1881, however, that it debated whether to continue plans to open the
institution. The board made an important decision. It scaled down
construction plans, letting a contract for only a part of the building it
had planned. The regents placed the physical plant secondary to the
necessity of recruiting a distinguished faculty, the heart of any great
university. When the University finally opened in September, 1883, it
had a faculty of 8 and a student body of lo3; expenditures for the year,
including building costs, came to $121,792.49.1
At the inception of the decade that gave birth to the University of
Texas, the political preference of most of the state's 1,591,748 citizens
lay with the Democratic party. The Constitution of 1876 had been the
party's final step in removing the last vestige of the Radical Republi-
cans' attempt to establish a new social and political order in Texas dur-
ing Reconstruction. With the exception of an outburst of agrarian po-
litical discontent in the early 1890os, the Democrats were so firmly
10n Campus: A Publication for Faculty and Staff at the University of Texas at Austin,
June, 1982, p. i; Louis S. Curtis to L. T. E., Nov. 2, 1982, interview; Facts: The Univer-
sity of Texas at Austin (n p., n.d.); J. J. Lane, History of the University of Texas (Austin,
1891), 268; H[arry] Y. Benedict (comp.), A Source Book Relating to the History of the
University of Texas: Legislative, Legal, Bibliographical, and Statistical, University of
Texas Bulletin no. 1757 (Austin, 1917), 826; Bobby G. Cook to L. T. E., Nov. 8, 1982, in-
terview. See also Roger A. Griffin's article, "To Establish a University of the First Class,"
on pages 185-16o below.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed November 29, 2015.