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  • University History

    The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is the second oldest academic component of the University of Texas System. It was founded by the Texas Legislature in 1914 as the State School of Mines and Metallurgy, a name that reflected the scope of education offered at the early West Texas school. The first campus, located on land that is now part of the Fort Bliss Army post, was destroyed by fire a few years after the collegeís inception. The school moved in 1916 to the present campus on the western foothills of the Franklin Mountains, just a stoneís throw from the Rio Grande and the Mexico Border.

    UTEPís present 366-acre site features distinctive Bhutanese-style architecture. The campusís buildings resemble exotic oriental monasteries found in the small kingdom of Bhutan nestled in the Himalayas. The motif, characterized by thick, sloped outer walls accented with a band of elaborate brickwork, was inspired by Kathleen Worrell, the wife of the collegeís first dean, and designed by noted El Paso architect Henry Trost. She had seen photographs of Bhutanese buildings located in the Himalayan Mountains and decided that similar architecture would complement the rugged desert terrain at the collegeís new site. Architects have continued the theme through more than 80 years of campus expansion.

    After the move to the new campus, the school grew steadily. In 1919, the institution became a branch of the University of Texas System and was renamed the Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy. Liberal arts courses were added to the curriculum in 1927, and the first Master of Arts degree was established in 1940. By 1949, enrollment approached 2,400, and the institution was renamed Texas Western College and held that name until it became the University of Texas at El Paso in 1967, when it boasted a student population of more than 9,000.

    Since then, the size of the student body has nearly doubled, reaching an all-time high of 17,213 in 1992. UTEP has continued to grow both physically and academically to meet the needs of an increasingly industrialized West Texas region. The UTEP campus consists of 83 buildings, including the 52,000-seat Sun Bowl Stadium, the 12,222-seat Don Haskins Center, a modern fine arts complex with galleries and recital halls, and a museum of natural and cultural history. A new Undergraduate Learning Center features multi-media enriched computer and distance learning technology.

    With its pivotal setting on the U.S.-Mexico border and as the largest Hispanic-majority university in the United States, UTEP is a nationally recognized leader in meeting the challenges to provide higher education to our countryís increasing minority populations. Quality undergraduate and graduate programs and growing strength as a national research center mark UTEP as an innovative force in American higher education for the 21st century.


    The University of Texas at El Paso
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    Revised: January 20, 1999