Students and staff, past and present, gathered with community members at the Watson Fine Arts Center on the campus of St. Philips college to celebrate the development and impact of the Alamo Colleges since the 20th century.
The story begins with St. Philips college, championed by Dr. Artemisia Bowden in 1902, then the establishment of San Antonio College in 1925 as a gateway to the University of Texas. The following year control of the College was transferred to the San Antonio Independent School District and the name was changed to San Antonio Junior College.
With the passage of state legislation authorizing the creation of junior college districts, administrators embarked on an active campaign to create the San Antonio Union Junior College District. Approved in 1945, the District assumed control of the San Antonio Junior College and St. Philip’s Junior College, originally a private Episcopal Institution, in 1946. Two years later, “Junior” was dropped from the names of the colleges, and attention focused on finding a permanent facility.
The name of the College district was changed to San Antonio Community College District in 1978 and in 1982 the district was renamed the Alamo Community College District. In 2009 trustees approved that the ACCD be referred to as Alamo Colleges District to encompass all five colleges.
Alamo Colleges Chancellor Dr. Bruce Leslie spoke about the complexity of the Alamo Colleges system and how it encapsulates its community. The history of the district is unique compared to other community college systems in the state.
“We really are the People’s Colleges. We emerged from humble poor roots to become some of the highest ranking schools in the nation,” said Leslie who celebrated Palo Alto College that recently received the Aspen award for top 10 schools in the nation.
The other 4 colleges, including North West Vista and North East Lakeview, received the Aspen award for top 150 schools in the nation.
Alamo Colleges Incoming Chancellor Dr. Mike Flores, the first Hispanic chancellor for the college system, spoke about the impact San Antonio College had on his family. His father traveled from Del Rio to attend classes at SAC with his GI bill awards and transferred to St. Mary’s University.
“I know my family’s story is the story of many families from San Antonio,” said Flores.
Northwest Vista College student Nathaniel Castillo-Rodriguez spoke about the schools helping him and his mom “break the cycle.”
“According to statistics, I should be in Jail,” said Castillo-Rodriguez, “My family struggled from paycheck to paycheck. There were times when I was younger that we had to stay with family and once even in a church.”
Castillo-Rodriguez graduated from his high school as a Valedictorian and his mother, Northwest Vista College alumnus Janice Castillo, said that she did not expect him to attend a community college, but she is proud of the path her son is on.
“I was a nontraditional student. I was 17 when I had my child and dropped out of high school,” said Castillo who earned two associates degrees from NVC.
She enrolled her son in Alamo Colleges community education programs like summer robotics camps, computer programming camps, and PREP which is a STEM program for high school students.
Former San Antonio College President and alumnus Dr. Robert Zeigler spoke about how he never even wanted to go to college after the navy, but the culture at SAC inspired him to pursue higher education.
The Guadalupe dance company performed at the celebration that was catered by 375, who created a 300 balloon installation and San Antonio themed cake.
For more information on more official tricentennial events please visit