The Development of Student Housing at the University of Texas at San Antonio
Many universities across the nation have struggled to improve their student retention numbers and graduation rates. One such strategy includes making on-campus student housing a requirement for first year students. Campuses making this shift were familiar with student housing, given the synchronous growth of enrollment and residential buildings. These changes involved using student housing in more strategic ways, based on research that continues to support the importance of living on-campus. Founded in 1969 to be the public university in the greater San Antonio area, The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) has experienced similar retention struggles throughout its young 50-year history. Whether motivated by retention initiatives or other factors, the development of student housing at UTSA changed the campus landscape. Once developed, we know the on-campus population did not grow alongside the student population; what is unclear is how UTSA developed student housing. The purpose of this historical qualitative case study was to explore how UTSA developed campus housing between 1970 and 1990. This approach allowed me to identify the history of student housing using archival material containing the perspectives of campus and local stakeholders. The history leading up to and immediately after the development of UTSA's first on-campus residential community is presented in a narrative made up of ten phases that organically emerged from the data collection and management. The perspectives from students, faculty, staff, and local community members throughout the twenty years allowed for a thorough synthesis and analysis of the student housing phenomenon. In turn, these perspectives voiced the narrative developed through this research study. Analysis of the data uncovered four themes that run throughout the development of UTSA and on-campus housing- leadership, communication, environmental collaboration, and culture. Specific historical events and actions are highlighted to demonstrate these themes. As new leadership takes UTSA forward, understanding our on-campus student housing history can guide conversations about change strategies for our future.