july 2015 bulletin cover
Volume 83 | Issue 4
July 2015

Union Spotlight: UTSA University Center at University of Texas–San Antonio


utsa 1History

When the San Antonio component of the University of Texas system was approved in 1969, the master plan did not include a student union. However, after student enrollment had grown and activities and events were scattered around the campus, a 1979 student referendum approved the establishment of a student union organization.
“Opening in July 1986, the new University Center featured a main lounge, several meeting rooms, a banquet hall, a student activity complex, a recreation room (the Roost), and food services,” Director Herbert Ganey said.

The main lounge—known as the Ski Lodge—is a two-story open area with a fireplace that was designed as and remains the living room of the University Center. 

Through three renovation phases, many additions were also made since it was first built, including a new bookstore, auditorium, and games room. A fourth renovation phase is tentatively scheduled for 2020.


Unique Features

The University Center features many gathering spaces, from the popular Roost Game Room to the Ski Lodge. It also has the Paseo, an outdoor area surrounded by trees. Ganey said the student-managed Roost Game Room is most popular.

“Students gather there for hours on end, studying and hanging out,” Ganey said.

Other features include a solar panel roof array, installed in 2011, and a building with a glass-barreled roof added during the second renovation phase, which was completed in 1996.

The glass-barreled roof is used in many campus publications, Ganey said, and “created a symbol for the entire campus.”


Students’ Role

“Students are the heart of the University Center,” Ganey said. “Our student staff outnumber professional staff with more than 125 students working part-time each year.”

The University Center Student Development Committee is creating a comprehensive program to provide a supportive learning environment through the employment process.

In addition, the University Center Advisory Council—which is made up of student leaders from different UTSA organizations—reviews the union’s budget and advises on important matters.


utsa 2Programming

“This year, the UC became famous for being the place to be to study for finals,” Ganey said. “The University Center was open 24/7 throughout the eight days of finals, offering snacks, pizza, and massages.”

UC Programs also offers free movies and a variety of activities and live entertainment throughout the academic year, and the University Center is available to the main campus for event planning and space reservation.

In addition, the Roost Game Room has gaming systems and billiard tables available for free to all students, and Gallery23 showcases student, faculty/staff, alumni, and local artists through exhibitions.

Other notable past programming include an artificial ice rink and indoor roller skating rink in the ballroom, a late-night picnic each semester, and “Rowdy Gras”—a Mardi Gras-themed event with fried catfish, Cajun food, crawfish races, dancing, and a parade.


University of Texas–San Antonio
Four-year, public, urban, suburban, commuter, Hispanic serving
Full-time enrollment: 30,000
Location: San Antonio

UTSA University Center
Director: Herbert Ganey
Size: 198,600 sq. ft.
Floors: 3
Year built: 1986
Annual budget: $7 million
Student staff: 125 (part-time)
Nonstudent staff: 40 (full-time)
Website: www.utsa.edu/ucwww.utsa.edu/uc