The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is a state research university in San Antonio, Texas, United States. With 30,968 students, it is the largest university in San Antonio and the eighth-largest in the state of Texas. Its three campuses span over 747 acres of land, with its main campus being the largest in the University of Texas System. UTSA offers a wide array of academic studies, with 133 undergraduate, 51 graduate and 24 doctoral programs. In 2012, it was selected by Times Higher Education as one of the best universities in the world under 50 years old.
UTSA is a member of the Oak Ridge Associated Universities, a consortium of the nation's major doctorate-level universities dedicated to collaboration and scientific advancement. It is an institutional member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, recognizing its influence and role as a Hispanic-serving institution. UTSA is also a member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, an organization of public institutions that seek to both offer educational excellence and opportunities to historically under-served populations.
Established in 1969, UTSA has evolved to become one of the largest institutions within the UT System. Through an aggressive expansion of its academic funding, the university devoted over $56 million to research in 2011. Its NCAA record-breaking football team will compete in Conference USA starting in 2013.
Alongside seven other emerging research institutions, The University of Texas at San Antonio is currently in competition to become Texas' third flagship university. UTSA's explosive growth has led the institution to new heights on world university rankings, athletics, and its "Top Tier" capital campaign.
The University of Texas at San Antonio is a part of the larger vision of "The University of Texas", as enumerated in the Texas Constitution. The University of Texas came into being in 1876, when the state constitution was adopted. Article VII articulated a vision for the university to the legislature:
"The Legislature shall as soon as practicable, establish, organize, and provide for the maintenance, support, and direction of a university of the first class, to be located by a vote of the people of this State, and styled "The University of Texas."
Until 1967, the Austin institution was the sole university stylized as "The University of Texas". It was during this year's legislative session that the UT System was given uniform designations based upon each institution's respective location. Two years later, San Antonio (one of the largest cities at the time without a public university) was finally granted its own institution in The University of Texas System.
The University of Texas at San Antonio was officially founded on June 5, 1969 by the 61st Texas Legislature as H.B. 42 and signed into law by Governor Preston Smith. Frank Lombardino, a conservative Democrat who represented northwest Bexar County in the state legislature, was known as the "father of UTSA" due to his impassioned advocacy for the institution. When Governor Smith signed the bill officially establishing the university, he did so on the back of Lombardino in a grand ceremony in front of the Alamo. At the university's inaugural commencement, the first diploma was also signed on Lombardino's back. In 1970, the University of Texas Board of Regents appointed the university's first president, Arleigh B. Templeton, who served from 1970 to 1972, and received a land donation of 600 acres (2.4 km2) in far northwest San Antonio for the site of UTSA. Architects Ford, Powell and Carson Inc. was assigned to design a master plan for the university. O'Neil Ford, the designer of both the Tower of the Americas and the Trinity University tower, designed the campus to be reminiscent of an Italian village. The 671 graduate students comprising the first class at the university were admitted in September 1973. Upperclassmen and lowerclassmen were admitted in 1975 and 1976, respectively. Students temporarily attended class at the Koger Center, which also housed administrative offices until 1975, when construction on the 1604 campus (now the Main Campus) was completed. Enrollment during this time numbered 4,433 students. UTSA began with five colleges: Business, Fine and Applied Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Multidisciplinary Studies and Science and Mathematics.
By 1975, the university's future colors were being openly discussed among student leaders and the administration. Eventually, UTSA's third color of blue was selected, beating out other proposed colors such as "fiesta red" and "cactus green". The John Peace Library opened the next year, serving as the new administrative headquarters for the university. The discussion of a university mascot soon followed the selection of school colors. In the fall of 1977 an election was held to determine the school's mascot, with "the armadillos" and "the stars" taking the top two spots. However, the referendum was declared void by the student government and a new election was held with nine candidates and a write-in option. The top two choices from the second election, the roadrunner and the armadillo, campaigned in a competitive run-off. On December 9, 1977 the roadrunner was announced as UTSA's first and only mascot. James W. Wagener, a graduate of Southern Methodist University and former acting-dean of the University of Texas Health Science Center, was selected to be UTSA's third president in 1978. The Alumni Association was formed that same year, providing a new avenue of support for the university. The first ever Fiesta UTSA was also held in April 1978, with multiple bands playing throughout the day and culminating in a school dance. At the end of the 1970s, enrollment numbered 9,400 undergraduate and graduate students.
The Paisano, the university's award-winning newspaper, was established in 1981 as the first independent student publication in the state. During the fall of that year, the university began playing collegiate athletics. It was immediately elected to Division I status in the NCAA. The Student Representative Assembly headed the burial of a time capsule in 1983, the university's 10th anniversary, instructing it to be opened on June 5, 2023.
In 1986, UTSA acquired the Institute of Texan Cultures, a center for multicultural education in the state, as a campus. During this year, both the University Center and Chisholm Hall, the first on-campus housing complex, opened.
On the first day of fall classes in 1996, a campus shooter stormed into the John Peace Library. The perpetrator, Gregory Tidwell, shot head of cataloging Stephen L. Sorensen twice in the chest, once in the head and a final time in the ear before sitting down and fatally shooting himself in the chest. Tidwell had physically assaulted Sorensen at an earlier meeting with an LGBT rights organization because Sorensen had refused to nominate him for a position within the group. Prior to the shooting, Tidwell had broken into Sorensen's house wielding a knife and a pair of scissors. He was awaiting his hearing, scheduled for the day after the shooting.
The University Center grew significantly in the late 1990's, breaking ground on its newest expansion in 1995. This new 97,500-square foot, $13.2 million building, dubbed "UC Phase II", included the new Retama Auditorium and UTSA book store. The Downtown Campus opened the doors to its permanent location on Interstate Highway 10 and Cesar Chavez Blvd. (then Durango Blvd.) in 1997. Ricardo Romo, a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and UCLA, became UTSA's fifth and current president in May 1999. He began with the ambitious agenda of aggressively expanding UTSA, both physically and academically, laying out the university's "Roadmap to Excellence". During his tenure, UTSA would grow 68% in student enrollment and add numerous new programs and facilities.
In the mid-2000s decade, UTSA embarked on a long-term campaign to dramatically increase its national prestige and selectivity. The "UTSA 2016" strategic plan was created in 2007 as a guide for this campaign. The first-time undergraduate acceptance rate, a common measurement for institutional selectivity, essentially hovered around 99% prior to 2006. In 2006 that number fell to 91%, eventually lowering to its current acceptance rate of 73%. U.S. News & World Report now ranks UTSA's admissions process as "selective". In 2010, the university hit a population benchmark of 30,000 students, signifying a growth rate of more than 39% over the past decade. UTSA was one of the fastest growing universities in Texas during this decade.
Nowadays, UTSA has become a nationally-ranked research university with over 30,000 students. In 2011, the university fielded its long-anticipated football team as an NCAA FCS independent, with Larry Coker as the inaugural head coach. As of 2012, it has 63 undergraduate programs, 51 master's programs and 24 doctoral programs within its eight colleges. The university has over 90,000 alumni graduates, 17 athletic sports and 614 tenured and tenure-track faculty. For fiscal year 2011, it delegated $79 million towards research expenditures, demonstrating the university's commitment towards achieving nationally-renowned research. UTSA is also the city's sole NCAA Division I university, becoming a member of the Western Athletic Conference in 2012 and moving on to Conference USA in 2013. An athletic complex is being constructed slightly west of the main campus and will feature pedestrian-friendly mixed-use areas. The complex, dubbed "Park West", will add another 125 acres to the university's property. Its official groundbreaking took place on April 10, 2012, with Mayor Julian Castro and other public officials in attendance. The Master Plan directs the future physical growth of the institution, with the stated goal of enhancing its research infrastructure.
The University of Texas at San Antonio comprises the following colleges: Business, Education and Human Development, Engineering, Honors College, Liberal and Fine Arts, Public Policy, Architecture, Sciences. All programs are fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the UTSA College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
The College of Business is the largest business school in the University of Texas System and one of the 40 largest in the United States. It iss nationally ranked by the Princeton Review, BusinessWeek and HispanicBusiness. The College of Liberal and Fine Arts, which has the highest enrollment at UTSA, ranks second in the system for external research funding in arts, humanities and social sciences. More than 50 percent of Honors College graduates have been accepted into postgraduate universities and medical and professional schools. The College of Sciences collaborates with other leading research institutions such as Southwest Research Institute. Since 2005, UTSA and Southwest Research Institute have maintained a joint doctoral program focusing on space physics. The university generates more than $1.2 billion in annual business revenue in San Antonio and directly employs more than 5,600 people.
As of 2012, UTSA has a 12% four year graduation rate for its students earning bachelors degrees. The Coordinated Admission Program (CAP), a program offered to some freshmen to transfer to the University of Texas at Austin after a year at UTSA, has a large adverse effect on this. The university has the most CAP students in the entire system, with only one-third of these undergraduates staying for their sophomore year. UTSA plans to phase out the CAP program in the next ten years to focus on students seeking degrees at the university.
UTSA has been rated one of the top 400 universities in the world, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. U.S. News and World Report ranks UTSA among its national universities, meaning that it is committed to producing groundbreaking research with a full range of undergraduate and graduate programs. However it is ranked in the second tier, which is below the majority of those that have received the distinction. The Academic Ranking of World Universities (the "Shanghai Rankings") places UTSA among the top 500 universities in the world. Eight other Texas undergraduate universities also made the rankings: Rice, SMU, Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UH, UT Austin and UT Dallas.
UTSA is one of only 21 American higher education institutions to receive an "A" rating from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) for the caliber of its core curriculum. 2012 is the second consecutive year that UTSA has received this study's highest rating. The only other Texas schools to receive this designation are Baylor University, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and the University of Dallas. Webometrics University Rankings, which grades universities based on their presence on the Internet, ranks the university 168th in the nation and 581st in the world. The College of Architecture ranks first in the nation in awarding degrees to Hispanic students, according to Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education.
In 2011, the Center for College Affordability and Productivity ranked UTSA's freshman as the second most "unhappy" in the country, based solely on low retention rates. Vice President David Gabler refuted this claim, telling 1200 WOAI that the survey is completely "bogus". Freshmen members of Student Government Association responded by sponsoring a resolution rebuking the claims, pointing out that the Coordinated Admissions Program skews freshmen retention rates. As of 2011, roughly 70% of CAP students do not return to the university for their second year. UTSA plans to completely phase out the Coordinated Admissions Program by 2021.
The University of Texas at San Antonio is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a "High Research Activity" university. The school reached a new record of $56.8 million for research expenditures in fiscal year 2011. This represents a five-year increase of 75.8% and an increase of 16.8% from 2010 to 2011, the fastest growth in the UT System. UTSA is second in the UT System for research funding in biology, social sciences, arts and humanities, microelectronics and computer technology.
A 2007 study released by Academic Analytics showed that UTSA was ranked fifth among other large research universities in the state of Texas for faculty scholarly productivity. The Office of the Vice President for Research publishes "Discovery", an annual magazine dedicated to highlighting the research, academic and creative achievements of the UTSA community. First printed in 2007, the publication is a member of the University Research Magazine Association, an organization that promotes excellence among the scholarly publications of universities.
Proposition 4 was passed by Texas voters in November 2009. This piece of legislation named 7 emerging research universities in Texas that could compete for additional state funds in an effort to increase the number of Tier One institutions in Texas. Factors such as research expenditure, graduate degrees awarded and scholarly productivity all play a part in which schools receive the most funding.
From 2006 to 2009, UTSA completed over $250 million in construction projects. The university underwent extensive remodeling in 2009, renovating older buildings such as the JPL, HSS (now the MH) and MS. The North Paseo Building, a $15 million office building, began housing ROTC operations when it opened in October 2011. A new ceramics studio broke ground in 2009 and two adjacent science buildings underwent $24 million in renovations. The $83 million Applied Engineering and Technology building (AET) also opened its doors in 2009. The Bauerle Road Garage, a 5-level parking facility with a convenience store, office space and a gift shop, opened in 2012. Dining services also expanded in 2008, continuing through 2011. Completed projects included two new Starbucks, a Panda Express, Taco Cabana, Burger King, and a Chili's Too. Other new services on-campus include a hair salon, technology store, UPS store, and DVD rental kiosks.
The Main Campus, the oldest and largest of the three, was born out of a 600 acre donation to the University of Texas Board of Regents. It proved to be so controversially remote to the city (at the time) that many San Antonians nicknamed it "University of Texas at Boerne" or "UT Boerne". The Main Campus opened its doors in 1975. Prior to that, classes were held at the Koger Center at Babcock Road and Loop 410. Roadrunner Cafe, the university's first dining hall, was erected in 2005. In 2006, UTSA acquired a 125 acre swath of land on Hausman Road to build its future athletics complex. Named "Park West", the site brings the Main Campus up to 725 acres in total. Up until 2009 it was known as the "1604 Campus", at which point it was renamed the "Main Campus" so as to better reflect its importance within the university and community as a whole. Students can live at one of the campus' four housing complexes: Chisholm Hall, Laurel Village, Chaparral Village and University Oaks. In addition to the upcoming San Saba Hall, three new residence halls are under construction and should be complete by 2022. The UTSA Master Plan, the university's structural plan for the future, focuses on developing the Main Campus in several key areas. Its plans for the campus include the expansion of academic facilities, major growth in on-campus amenities, implementing a long-term strategy for parking and the establishment of a college town.
The Downtown Campus is located in Downtown San Antonio and houses the College of Public Policy, the College of Architecture and the Texas State Data Center. In early 1993, the demolition of Fiesta Plaza made way for what would become the Downtown Campus. While construction was underway, the campus made its temporary home at Cypress Tower on Main Street, offering its first classes in January 1994. Its permanent location on I-10 and Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard (formerly Durango Boulevard) was completed in 1997. Today, the Downtown Campus is composed of four buildings, a 19,000 square foot library and parking for over 2,200 vehicles all in over 18 acres of space. It boasted 6,824 students in 2012, 4,188 of which take classes at both the Main and Downtown Campuses. A new bus-rapid transit line, VIA Primo, is scheduled to open in late 2012. This will allow students to quickly commute between the UTSA Main Campus and the Downtown Campus. A streetcar is also planned that will connect the Downtown Campus to the HemisFair Park Campus. The Master Plan states that some of goals for the Downtown Campus include the expansion of on-campus amenities, the reinforcement of the campus' identity and the growth of civic spaces.
The HemisFair Park Campus, also in Downtown San Antonio, stands as the third branch of UTSA, holding the 182,000 square-foot Institute of Texan Cultures museum. It hosts the Texas Folklife Festival, an annual event celebrating the various cultures of Texas and their roles in the multicultural state. The ITC (as it is commonly known) was originally built as a $10 million project for HemisFair '68, with the stated goal of promoting awareness of the history and ethnic diversity of Texas. It was turned over to the University of Texas System after the conclusion of the world's fair, being designated as a campus of UTSA in 1986. It serves as a valuable asset for historical research, housing both UTSA's archives and an impressive historic photography collection with over 3,000,000 images. The ITC formalized an agreement with the Smithsonian Institute in 2010 to grant the museum affiliate status. As an affiliate of the Smithsonian, the museum has access to much of its vast resources, such as workshops, speakers and programs. Funding for the ITC primarily comes from legislative appropriations, event admissions fees, grants and contributions. The City of San Antonio is currently developing a long-term strategic plan for HemisFair Park, and the university is still considering multiple options for its own vision of the facility. As UTSA continues to grow and expand, the institute plans to develop alongside it as a nationally-recognized research institution of equal caliber.
UTSA is San Antonio's only NCAA Division I FBS institution. It competes in 16 intercollegiate sports including football, basketball, cross country, golf, indoor track & field, men's baseball, outdoor track and field, tennis, fencing, women's soccer, women’s softball, and women's volleyball. The university has hosted the men's Final Four three times and the women's Final Four twice. UTSA itself has been in the tournament four times: in 1988, 1999, 2004 and 2011. The home of the Roadrunners basketball team is the Convocation Center, a multi-purpose arena with over 4,000 seats. During its tenure in the conference, UTSA was the Southland men's cross country champion three times and the women's champion five times. The men's and women's cross country teams have competed in the 1997 and 1996 NCAA championships, respectively.
UTSA's main rival is the Texas State University Bobcats. The two universities play each other in a series known as the I-35 Rivalry. Separated by about 50 miles (~80 km), both schools have been conference rivals since 1991, first in the Southland Conference and then in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). Starting in 2013, UTSA and Texas State will be in different conferences, with UTSA moving to Conference USA (C-USA) and Texas State to the Sun Belt Conference. UTSA will be one of four Texas schools in C-USA, along with the North Texas Mean Green, the Rice Owls and the UTEP Miners. The leadership of both universities have stated their interest in preserving the football rivalry, even as the institutions head into different conferences.
Football had always been a great topic of conversation in the UTSA community since the university's very beginning. In a 1971 article famously titled "UTSA will not have football", president Arleigh Templeton dismissed the idea of the university acquiring a football team, stating "When we do begin playing football we will be playing the best competition available." A 2007 student referendum doubled the university's athletics fee, effectively paving the way for the program's arrival in the fall of 2011.
The university won its first football game against Northeastern State University on September 3, 2011 at its home field, the Alamodome. With 56,743 in attendance, UTSA set the NCCA's record for the highest-attended inaugural game for a start-up program. The Roadrunners also broke the attendance record for an inaugural season, averaging 35,521 per game. UTSA lead the WAC in attendance for the 2012 season. The team will compete in Conference USA next year, alongside fellow former WAC member Louisiana Tech. The UTSA administration has been very supportive of the move, with President Ricardo Romo noting that the conference will fit the Roadrunners well.
With the addition of more on-campus housing in recent years, campus life at UTSA has evolved to become much more active. Before basketball games, tail-gate parties and body painting in the school's colors are common. There are many traditions as well, including Best Fest and Fiesta UTSA, both are events for students organizations to raise funds while providing entertainment and food to the student body.
UTSA offers four selections for on-campus housing:
San Saba Hall a new $40 million dormitory to house 618 students is scheduled to open in Fall 2013. It is situated next to the Chaparral dorms.
More than 8,000 students live off-campus within walking distance of campus. These student housing complexes include: Alpin Park, Aspen Heights, Avalon Place, The Estates at San Antonio, Broadstone Ranch, Campus Side, Chase Hill, The Grove, High View Place, Highlands, Hill Country Place, Las Colinas, Madera, Maverick Creek, The Outpost, Villas at Babcock, and The Reserve.
At the heart of student life are 256 student organizations that represent a diverse array of niches on campus. Among the most prominent of groups are the sponsored organizations that receive funding from the University Student Services fee. These sponsored student organizations are the only RSOs (Registered Student Organizations) that may use "UTSA" in their name.
Be a Responsible Roadrunner (BARR) is an organization supported by the Office of Student Activities, focusing on educating the student body on issues relating to their health. BARR conducts events on campus such as Alcohol Awareness Week, Thirsty Thursdays, Safe Spring Break and Party on the Paseo, which garnered the "Outstanding Alcohol Abuse Prevention Award" at the 2010 BACCHUS Network General Assembly.
The Campus Activities Board (CAB) is the largest student program board on campus. It serves to foster traditions and community at the university by coordinating large-scale events such as Best Fest, Fiesta UTSA and various homecoming functions.
Student Government Association (SGA) is the official voice of the university's student body. Its officers and committees reflect that of the United States federal government, utilizing a three-branch system. Student Government hosts the "University Life Awards", a large celebration in the Ballroom that recognizes excellence in leadership throughout the campus. All students are considered members of SGA, due to both the fact that its activities are subsidized through the Student Services Fee and that it represents the views of the entire student body.
The College Democrats and College Republicans at UTSA both date back to the late 1970's. The two organizations have brought notable public officials to campus such as Bill White, Congressman Joaquin Castro, Congressman Pete Gallego, Judge Juanita Vasquez-Gardener, State Senator Joe J. Bernal, Councilman John Clamp, and Senator Bob Krueger.
About 3% of both undergraduate men and women are members of fraternities and sororities. Greek life at UTSA is directed by the four governing bodies: the Panhellenic Council (6 chapters), the Interfraternity Council (6 chapters), the National Pan-Hellenic Council (4 chapters), and the Multicultural Greek Council (8 chapters). Greek life was first established in 1977 and since then has contributed greatly to student life all around campus.
The Interfraternity Council (IFC) oversees men's social fraternities. Member chapters include Tau Kappa Epsilon, Alpha Tau Omega, Kappa Sigma, Lambda Chi Alpha, Pi Kappa Phi, Sigma Pi. The Texas Xi chapter of Phi Delta Theta, originally founded in 1990, is currently being re-established on campus under the IFC. All organizations in the IFC belong to either the North-American Interfraternity Conference or the Fraternity Leadership Association. Sigma Phi Epsilon, the university's oldest fraternity, and Phi Gamma Delta were both booted off campus in 2011 and 2009, respectively. Alpha Lambda Tau, a fraternity for homosexual men that received national attention, was also governed under the IFC while it was active.
The Panhellenic Council (PHC) oversees the women's social sororities of Alpha Omicron Pi, Alpha Sigma Alpha, Gamma Phi Beta, Phi Mu, Sigma Kappa and Zeta Tau Alpha. In 2010, Phi Mu was placed on probation for a year for violations of hazing.
UTSA has one of the most extensive Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) programs in the United States and is the nation’s sixth largest Air Force ROTC program with over 240 cadets. In 2009, the school’s Air Force ROTC detachment won the Right of Line Award, the most prestigious award among all Air Force ROTC units. Ranking first in the Southwest Region out of 36 detachments for producing the most second lieutenants in the Air Force. At the national level, with 144 detachments, UTSA was ranked second along with Purdue University. UTSA also has the largest Air Force ROTC program among Hispanic Serving Institutions . In 2009, The AFROTC unit was awarded 36 slots for field training compared to rivalry school Texas A&M, which had 32.
The Paisano is the student-run newspaper of the university. It has received numerous awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, winning a gold medal in 2000. The Paisano has remained fully independent of university administration since its inception in 1981 and publishes its issues every Tuesday.
The official colors of UTSA are blue and orange. The colors of the University of Texas System have historically been orange and white. Blue was selected upon the recommendation of the Student Representative Assembly (now Student Government Association) in accordance with the Board of Regents' Rules and Regulations, which states "an institution may adopt one additional color to be used in connection with athletic and other activities of the institution."
The roadrunner, a bird representative of the Texas Hill Country and the American Southwest, was voted the UTSA mascot in 1977. "Rowdy the Roadrunner" attends many university functions and games. On March 1, 2008, UTSA Athletics unveiled it new logos during the Homecoming Game against Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi. The athletic markings were changed due to noticeable similarities to the University of Kansas Jayhawk.
The alma mater was created by Alan Craven, former dean and professor of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. Music was provided by Clarence ("Joe") Stuessy, a retired professor and former chair of the Department of Music.
Fiesta UTSA, an annual event held in April, began in 1978. The first Fiesta UTSA was attended by over 1,000 students and included music, a jalapeño eating contest, a watermelon seed spitting contest, a dunk tank, and other activities. Fiesta UTSA features dozens of booths set up under the Sombrilla in a carnival atmosphere. The booths are run by Registered Student Organizations and offer food, drinks and games. The Campus Activities Board sponsors bands and other musicians throughout the day. Fiesta UTSA became the kickoff event for Fiesta San Antonio each spring, having been added to the official Fiesta San Antonio schedule in 1980. The Fiesta royalty are present at the ribbon-cutting ceremony that marks the official beginning of Fiesta.
Best Fest, an annual celebration held in October, began in 1978 (as "Bestfest") as "a special salute to five of the state's outstanding festivals," including New Braunfels's Wurstfest, Corpus Christi's Buccaneer Days, San Antonio's Fiesta, the Texas State Fair in Dallas, and George Washington's Birthday Celebration in Laredo. It was presented by the student organization Variety 79. In 1979, the event was said to be "a salute to five of the city's outstanding festivals: Fiesta Navidena, King William Fair, La Feria del Rio, the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, and the Texas Folklife Festival." In the late 1970s, Best Fest included performances by the UTSA Brass Ensemble and UTSA Jazz Ensemble, several contests such as the jalapeño eating contest, egg toss, "Walking the Plank Contest," "Pee Wee Bicycle Races," and others. The modern Best Fest incorporates a Halloween theme with costume and booth-decorating contests.
Homecoming has many traditions at UTSA. One of the most notable, the annual Golf Cart Parade, is a unique event to UTSA. Student organizations band together to design and create decorated golf carts according to the year's homecoming theme, showing them off in front of an audience of over 3,000 Roadrunner fans. Each submission is constructed by students at the Golf Cart Decorating Party, an event held just a few days before in the University Center. The parade has been an official part of the university's homecoming ceremonies since 1993. In 2004 it was combined into the Rowdy Rampage Fireworks Spectacular, alongside the spirit rally and a live music concert.
The University Life Awards (also known as the "ULAs") is an award ceremony sponsored by Student Government Association with the purpose of recognizing outstanding leadership on campus. It recognizes students, student organizations, faculty and staff who have made an exceptional difference in the UTSA community. It is touted as the university's oldest tradition. Individuals and organizations are nominated by fellow students, faculty or staff. Awards include Most Outstanding Student (by colleges and classification), Greek Man and Woman of the Year, the Jane Findling Award, the Golden Feather Award and Most Spirited Student.