History of the UT System Board of Regents

Ashbel Smith appointment certificate

Establishment of The University

In 1881, The 17th Legislature passed an act stating "That there be established in this State, at such locality as may be determined by a vote of the people, an institution of learning, which shall be called and known as The University of Texas."

The Legislature vested the governance of The University in the Board of Regents of The University of Texas. Ashbel Smith, M.D., who had been active in establishing the University, was appointed by Governor O. M. Roberts on October 19, 1881, to serve as the first Chairman of the Board. The University of Texas System has been governed by 255 Regents since its establishment.

University History

Transcription of the First Minutes

City of Austin November 15th A. D. 1881

The State of Texas Be it remembered that on this Tuesday,
County of Travis November the fifteenth A. D. 1881, the Board of Regents of The University of Texas consisting of the following named members present to wit: Ashbel Smith, Thos. J. Devine, R. B. Hubbard, Smith Ragsdale, T. D. Wooten, T. M. Harwood and A. N. Edwards convened in the City of Austin at 4 o'clock p.m. in obedience to the following Proclamation made by his Excellency O. M. Roberts, Governor of Texas, the same being a true copy of Original Proclamation to wit:


By the Governor of the State of Texas convening the Board of Regents of the University of Texas:

Whereas the Official Returns of the Election held September 6th 1881 which said Returns are now on file in the Office of the Secretary of State, show that Austin has been selected by the people as the location of the University of Texas with the Medical Branch at Galveston,

Now therefore I, O. M. Roberts, Governor of Texas by virtue of the Authority vested in me by the laws of this State do hereby call the Board of Regents of the University of Texas to convene at the City of Austin on Tuesday the fifteenth day of November 1881 to effect the permanent organization of the Board and to take such action as the law requires for the establishment and organization of the University.

In testimony whereof I hereto sign my name and cause the
Seal of State to be affixed at the City of Austin this 19th day of October A. D. 1881

O. M. Roberts

By the Governor
L. H. Bowman
Secretary of State

The permanent organization of the Board was effective by electing Ashbel Smith President (Chairman) and A. N. Edwards, Secretary.

Download a PDF of the First Meeting Minutes (this file is approximately 200 MB).