UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS OF THE PERMIAN BASIN
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS OF THE PERMIAN BASIN. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin is in Odessa, Texas. It was authorized by the Texas legislature in 1969 to accept only junior, senior, and master's degree graduate students as part of an experiment in upper level education in Texas. Its first president, Billy Howard (B. H.) Amstead, was appointed by the University of Texas System Board of Regents on March 6, 1970. Planning for construction began, and the campus started to develop. A lawsuit was filed challenging the validity of the deeds to the school property; however, the State Supreme Court ruled in favor of the UTPB site early in 1972. Construction of the permanent buildings began in April of that year. Due to the delay caused by the lawsuit, transitional housing for class, lab, and library facilities was constructed, and classes began in these temporary structures with an initial enrollment of 1,112. Several innovations in addition to the upper-level model were instituted at UTPB when it opened for classes in the fall of 1973. These included term tenure for faculty, modular classrooms, self-paced instruction, no student dorms, a lifetime sport proficiency emphasis and its sports program centering around a rugby team rather than conventional sports programs such as football or basketball. Initial projections were that enrollment would be made up largely of transfers from local junior colleges; however, this proved to be erroneous, as did estimates of student numbers. Many of the student population at UTPB were older, part-time, and place bound who worked full-time and attended school at night. Enrollment stabilized at around 2,000 in 1984. Phase 1 of the university campus buildings was completed in the summer of 1974, and classes moved to the completed building. The library occupied the transitional structure until it joined the faculty and students in the Mesa Building in 1977. Experience proved many of the innovations instituted at UTPB to be unfeasible. Self-paced classes took a progressively minor role in instruction, mobile homes were placed on campus in 1976 to provide student housing, and the open lab was replaced with traditional lab facilities. In addition, the university was restructured on May 12, 1991, when Governor Ann Richards signed a bill adding freshmen and sophomore classes at UTPB, making it a four-year facility. The first freshman class of 181 students entered the university in the fall of 1991. The John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute, inaugurated in 1995, annually conducts thirty-five to forty student leadership forums in Texas. In 1996 UTPB opened the Falcon's Nest apartment complex to provide additional on-campus housing. In 1997 the state legislature approved $25.8 million in tuition revenue bonds for the construction of art studios and an 80,000-square-foot library and lecture center and the renovation of two existing buildings. In the 1999–2000 academic year the university offered twenty-five undergraduate and seventeen master's degrees. Enrollment in the fall of 2000 was 2,273; the faculty numbered 150. The university has had five presidents: B. H. Amstead, V. R. Cardozier, Duane M. Leach, Charles A. Sorber, and W. David Watts. It is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor's and master's degrees and is open to all citizens of the state who meet the academic standards for admission.
Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.