What stemmed from a tragedy has grown into a unique project headed by the Retired Faculty Association (RFA) that seeks to archive the most memorable moments at UTSA and record its growth.
The death of former Dean of Fine and Applied Arts (now COLFA) and member of the RFA, Jacinto Quirarte, motivated the organization to create a project that would archive UTSA since its birth in 1969 by preserving memories and testimonials from its founding members, alumni, faculty and students.
“We knew we had to do something,” said RFA President Dr. Marian L. Martinello. “We had been talking about needing to record all of this, but we never had gotten serious until we lost a very important member of the faculty.”
UTSA Histories Project’s main purpose is to collect memories and testimonies and preserve them for future study and interpretation. The UTSA Histories Project includes RFA’s Oral History Project, a proposal towards a commemorative publication for UTSA’s 50th anniversary in 2019 by RFA historian Dr. David R. Johnson and a set of monographs that record aspects of UTSA’s growth.
“UTSA is unique in that it still has some of its founding faculty alive who can recall what happened in those early days,” stated Martinello.
“We hope this will go on forever, that we’ll have this fantastic body of information that maybe will not be so important to people today, but in 100 to 200 years from now those archive materials may be very important. How many universities have their founding faculty recorded?”
Provost John Frederick established the RFA in 2011. Martinello proposed the UTSA Oral Histories Project. Once the proposal was accepted, the project began with RFA members and volunteers training in the proper techniques of collecting oral interviews under Dr. Sarah Z. Gould of the Institute of Texan Cultures.
Recording equipment, funded by President Romo, is available for checkout in the Office of the Dean of the Library for two weeks.
Currently the RFA is in talks with the Alumni Association representatives and faculty representatives to raise funds to support costly interview transcripts.
Archived material contains interviews with founding faculty. There are hopes to expand interviews to students, current faculty and community members.
Archives can be accessed through the Special Collections Department by appointment, and materials include collected photographs of the first set of students and buildings along with recorded interviews.
Students working on the project include a group of research assistants assigned by Johnson, and there are hopes to extend it to all students who could access the material for further research.
“This project will never end, hopefully,” said Dr. Martinello. “We are hoping to get staff and students engaged with this, and from those groups, volunteers can come forward to learn the simple techniques of collecting oral histories.
This can go on forever as long as the university exists in order to keep track of all the histories and stories that have made this university what it is and will make it what it will become.”
Dr. Adrian Derral Cheatwood will be presiding over UTSA’s presentations at the Texas State Historical Association Annual Meeting on March 7, 2014 in San Antonio, which includes Dr. Martinello’s presentation, Photographic Evidence of Change in the University’s Development; David R. Johnson, University of Texas at San Antonio Retired Faculty Association, on The Origins of Texas at San Antonio; and Dr. Sarah Z. Gould, University of Texas at San Antonio Institute of Texan Cultures, on UTSA Founding Faculty Oral History Project.