The leading institution of the University System of Texas, the University of Texas at Austin, is known colloquially as a “Public Ivy”. Currently UT Austin, located only 1 mile from the Texas State Capitol building in Austin, has the 5th largest campus enrollment in the U.S., in excess of 50,000 students, with approximately 24,000 staff members and instructors. “Public Ivy” is a moniker reserved for those public universities regarded as providing a quality of education on a par with Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Princeton. Caroline McCaul, high school senior at Westlake High School in Austin, has decided upon UT Austin for her next phase of academic achievement, following in the footsteps of her maternal and paternal grandmothers, her paternal grandfather, and an uncle, all of whom graduated from this prestigious university.
The University of Texas at Austin originated in a constitutional promise by the Mexican government in 1827 to establish an arts and sciences public education program. When Texas attained independence from Mexico, the new Texas Congress made provision for a general system of education, in 1836. Again, in 1838, a special committee of the Texas Congress presented an “Act to Establish the University of Texas”. In 1839, the Congress of Texas decided to set aside 288,000 acres for a university, with 40 acres of that to be designated as College Hill. When Texas became part of the United States, the Constitution of Texas of 1845 did not mention higher education. Caroline McCaul would have a family legacy at University of Texas at Austin, but first the Texas legislators of 150 years ago would have to fight for it.