UT Dallas Magazine

On This Day in 1969 …

Gov. Preston Smith (at podium) addresses the crowd before signing HB303 into law.

On this day in 1969, Gov. Preston Smith signed House Bill 303 on the steps of the Founders Building.

The bill (which went into effect on Sept. 1, 1969) established The University of Texas at Dallas by gifting the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies to the state of Texas, essentially replacing the center with the University. Space scientist Francis “Frank” Johnson was named acting president, a position he would hold until 1971.

Forty-eight years later, what started as a campus with one building in a field of blackland prairie has grown into what Times Higher Education ranked the No. 1 university in the United States founded less than 50 years ago.

We’re beginning to set our sights on turning the big 5-0 in 2019. You are invited to share UTD-related memories and photos from over the years. Feel free to email [email protected] with your recollections.

– Paul Bottoni

A temporary sign for UT Dallas was installed at Armstrong Parkway (near the fields south of the Naveen Jindal School of Management building) on Sept. 2, 1969, a day after HB303 went into effect.