The History of Southwest Texas Junior College

As far back as 1926 a few far-sighted citizens of Sabinal and Uvalde advocated a junior college for this vast Southwest Texas area to be located in Uvalde, but it was not until twenty years later that this dream became a reality. At the close of World War II, when the Army Air Force Flying School at Garner Field near Uvalde was deactivated, many public spirited citizens saw the need for an educational institution of higher learning to serve the returning veterans and the high school graduates of this area. They saw in the beautiful campus and the existing buildings, valued at three-quarters of a million dollars, a plant ideally suited for a college. With the beginning of the year 1946, a series of events brought about a movement that had as its climax the creation of the first tri-county junior college in Texas.

From 1942 to 1945 the buildings and property the college occupies were a part of an Army Air Force Flying School. When the school closed on July 24, 1945, the original intent of the government was to sell everything possible as salvage, even to the point of digging up the grass, palms and shrubbery, leaving nothing but the bare ground. Many public spirited citizens of Southwest Texas took steps to prevent the destruction of the property.

On January 2, 1946, the Commissioners’ Court of Uvalde County passed a resolution endorsing the plan to establish a combination Government Issue (G.I.) vocational school and junior college on the Garner Field site. The following day, the Uvalde City Council approved a plan to organize a tri-county junior college district composed of Real, Uvalde, and Zavala counties. In rapid succession this plan was endorsed by the senior and junior chambers of commerce and other organizations, and a mass meeting was held at the Uvalde County Courthouse with representatives from the three counties heartily supporting the movement. The Reconstruction Finance Corporation approved Garner Field as a site for the proposed junior college. Petitions were circulated in Real, Uvalde, and Zavala counties requesting the State Board of Education to authorize the establishment of a tri-county district. Upon receiving this approval, an election was held on May 18, 1946 in the proposed district. The propositions were passed by a decisive majority and thus, the first joint-county district in the state of Texas came into being.

On September 13, 1946, the city of Uvalde purchased the Garner Field property and leased it to the board of trustees of the new junior college. The institution was named Southwest Texas Junior College, a president was elected, and September 30, 1946 was set as the opening date. However, more time was needed to complete arrangements and the actual opening date was October 14, 1946.

Early in the fall of 1946, SWTJC was approved by the State Department of Education (now Texas Education Agency) as a junior college of the first class. In the fall of 1947, the college became a member of the American Association of Junior Colleges. The college was given an affiliate membership in the Association of Texas Colleges in the spring of 1947. In the fall of 1964, the college was admitted to membership in the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

On August 14, 1958, the Uvalde City Council presented the Board of Trustees the deed to the 79.28 acres of land on which the college is located.

Garner Field, WWII era

Garner Field

Garner Field

Board of Trustees

First Day of Classes, 1956

SWTJC School Bus

Ariel Shot, 1968