Welcome to the Higher Education in South Texas digital archive, an ongoing historical project initiated in the fall 2023 by Dr. Kevin Bazner and students in the EDLD 6306 - Higher Education in a Democratic Society course. This platform is more than a collection of digital artifacts; it is a living narrative that delves into the history of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC) and regional institutions, offering a lens into the surrounding community and broader historical contexts shaping higher education in South Texas.

The genesis for this project arguably began with the pivotal LULAC vs. Clements (1987), renamed Richards vs. LULAC on appeal, court case, a catalyst that fueled the expansion of education access and culminated in the South Texas/Border Initiative (SBTI) in 1989. Without that case and the subsequent expansion of funding and academic programs delivered through the STBI, the Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership and the students in that program would not have existed. Through student-curated exhibits, oral histories, and the Higher Education digital archives, we share the stories of historical moments, influential figures, and artifacts that have shaped the educational landscape in the surrounding region.

Why Study History in Higher Education?

Beyond the archival allure, history serves as a compass guiding leaders through the complexities of present-day issues. Understanding history illuminates past events and can lend strategies institutional and community leaders utilized to advocate for additional funding (Aguilar-Smith & Doran, 2023; Carales & Doran, 2022), fulfilled their academic and regional serving missions (Supplee & Orphan, 2023), and inspire action and deepen institutional commitments to their surrounding communities (McClure & Orphan, 2023).

For regional serving institutions (RSIs) like TAMU-CC, studying institutional histories becomes a profound exploration of community-university engagement, a longstanding hallmark of RSIs nationwide (Supplee & Orphan, 2023). As Carales and Doran (2022) noted, the investigation into the institutional, regional, and legislative histories surrounding SBTI "demonstrates the importance of community activism in shaping and reshaping the histories of regional institutions" (p. 1182). Moreover, this work highlights an ongoing need of institutional and local community leaders to engage more in collaborative partnerships to develop shared historical sensemaking and understand the comprehensive needs of professional staff, faculty, students, and local communities (Bazner, 2022).

Our exploration of the history of SBTI, university archives, and regional community not only illustrates past achievements but also underscores the pressing need for educational leaders to study institutional histories, and connect economic and educational prosperity as a mechanism for advocating meaningful change (Aguilar-Smith & Doran, 2023). This digital archive invites you to explore the interplay of history and educational leadership, inviting reflection on the past to inform a more dynamic and equitable future. 

Aguilar-Smith, S., & Doran, E. (2023). The expansion of Title V: A historical analysis of the promoting postbaccalaureate opportunities for Hispanic Americans Program. Educational Policy. https://doi.org/10.1177/08959048231153608.

Bazner, K. J. (2022). Views from the middle: Racialized experiences of midlevel student affairs administrators. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 15(5), 572. https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/dhe0000384

Carales, V. D., & Doran, E. E. (2022). The pursuit of equal educational opportunity: A historical analysis of the South Texas/Border Initiative. Educational Policy, 36(5), 1162-1187. https://doi.org/10.1177/0895904820951128

McClure, K. R., & Orphan, C. M. (2023). A Call to Action: Translating the Spirit of Stewardship of Place into Practice. American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Richards v. LULAC, 868 S.W.2d at 306 (Tex. 1993).

Supplee, L. C., & Orphan, C. M. (2023). The" People's Universities" Over Time: Tracing the Histories and Evolutions of Regional Comprehensive Universities as Anchor Institutions Between 1970 and 2000. The Review of Higher Education. https://doi.org/10.1353/rhe.2023.a900571