University of Texas of the Permian Basin

The University of Texas
of the Permian Basin
Motto Latin: Disciplina praesidium civitatis (Education, the Guardian of Society)
Type Public
Established 1973
President W. David Watts
Administrative staff


Undergraduates 4,661
Postgraduates 899
Location Odessa, Texas, U.S.
31°53′24″N 102°19′43″W / 31.88992°N 102.328687°W / 31.88992; -102.328687Coordinates: 31°53′24″N 102°19′43″W / 31.88992°N 102.328687°W / 31.88992; -102.328687
Campus Urban, 644 acres
Colors Orange and White          
Athletics NCAA Division IILone Star
Nickname Falcons
Affiliations UT System

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB) is a state university located in Odessa, Texas. It was authorized by the Texas Legislature in 1969 and founded in 1973. Its official Spring 2016 enrollment was a record high 6,050, a 15% increase in headcount since the previous year.[2] The university faces rapid growth as a result of the oil boom currently ongoing in the Permian Basin.


University of Texas of the Permian Basin entrance sign

Beginning years

Among those who pushed for the establishment of UTPB was the oil industrialist Bill Noël, who with his wife, Ellen Witwer Noël, became major philanthropists of the institution.[3]

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin began in 1973 with only junior, senior, and graduate-level programs. There were 1,011 students when the school opened. The institution permitted student input in the interviews of prospective faculty, and student recommendations were considered when additional faculty were hired.

According to legend, a rivalry with Odessa College (OC) got underway from the very beginning, when OC students taunted the UTPB students that they were too old to produce a streaker. A student finally agreed, and with only his head covered, streaked across the campus. It was a planned media event as all three television stations were present as was most of the faculty and administration including the University President, Dr. Armstead. The student jumped from the side door of a Volkswagen campmobile and ran to the crowd and camera. He then turned left and ran past the berms and out the back of the small courtyard. This was all done to great cheers. He escaped by jumping back into the Volkswagen which drove off unimpeded.[4]

Expansion during the 1990s

UTPB was an upper-level and graduate university until the Texas Legislature passed a bill in spring 1991 to allow the university to accept freshmen and sophomores. The first freshmen, called the "Pioneer Freshmen", began attending UTPB in the fall semester of 1991, and students were first designated as sophomores the following fall. Odessan Chris Horton was the first member of the "Pioneer Freshmen" to graduate from UTPB, completing his bachelor's degree in political science in May 1994.

In the years after freshmen and sophomores were added, UTPB has upgraded its campus extensively. In 2000, the J. Conrad Dunagan Library and Lecture Center was completed, featuring a 20-station multimedia lab and classroom. In addition, UTPB has added a visual arts studio, and has installed a Stonehenge replica. Several apartment-style buildings have also been added to provide housing for university students. While upgrading the campus, UTPB has also added an intercollegiate sports program. After competing in the Red River Athletic Conference of the NAIA since the fall of 1995, UTPB's sports teams debuted as members of the Heartland Conference of NCAA Division II in the fall of 2006. In 2009, UTPB finally got a radio contract to air men's home conference basketball games on KFZX to increase the interest in the school and allow parents who live out of town to listen to the games live online. Six of the eight games in 2009 will be broadcast, but two of them can not be done due to a pre-existing contract with fellow city college Odessa College. These and other changes have helped to attract local students who may have opted for junior colleges or other universities.

George E. "Buddy" West, a member of the first graduating class from UTPB, represented Odessa in the Texas House of Representatives from 1993 until his death in 2008. He became the legislative point man on UTPB issues. West worked to obtain the Presidential Museum and Leadership Library, a new student union building, and the performing arts center.

Another significant addition to the university has been the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute. The Institute provides seminars, training and research on public leadership all over Texas, and offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Leadership Studies. The institute is also well regarded for its Shepperd Distinguished Lecture Series, which has brought a variety of internationally recognized individuals, such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Robert McNamara, Ralph Nader, William F. Buckley, Jr., and most recently Malcolm Gladwell, to discuss salient political and social topics.

Recent history

As of 2006, the university was holding discussions with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about construction of a new High-Temperature Teaching and Test Reactor which, if successful, would finish licensing and construction around 2012. It would also be the first university based research reactor to be built in the US in roughly a decade, and one of the few HTGR type reactors in the world.[5]

On April 17, 2008, the university broke ground on a new Science and Technology Complex. The new building houses the chemistry, biology, physics, computer science, and information technology programs. The new 70,000-square-foot (6,500 m2) building contains 41 labs, 56 offices, six classrooms, and three sunken lecture halls. Ironically, despite warnings from a UTPB Geology professor, the contractor failed to identify an underground aquifer that could cause the building supports to sink. Construction was delayed while the contractor reinforced the building supports after drilling into the aquifer; However, the building did open in time for the Fall 2011 semester.[6] The building houses classrooms, multiple laboratories including two large demonstration labs, a 200-seat lecture hall, and a state-of-the-art Data Communications Teaching Lab for undergraduate and graduate students. The Computer Science Department maintains a computer science research lab and a computer networking research lab.

A state-of-the-art building known as the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center is now open in the Midland campus, off Hwy 191 and FM 1788. Construction began in 2009 and the center opened with a grand gala featuring Rod Stewart on November 1, 2011.[6] The WNPAC houses the UTPB music department and hosts performances from around the world.


Main campus

Visual Arts Studios
Stonehenge replica on campus of University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa

A Stonehenge replica was added adjacent to the Visual Arts Studio.[7]

Gym Complex
Science and Technology Building
Other places of interest

Midland campus

Future developments[8]


The university offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees through its three colleges and schools:[9]

Student body

UTPB has an 18/1 student/faculty ratio, and 90% of the tenure-track faculty hold doctorates in their teaching fields.


UT Permian Basin is part of the University of Texas System. The average cost for an undergraduate student to attend UTPB full-time (12 hours) is about $2,400. The average cost for an out-of-state undergraduate student to attend UTPB full-time is about $7,000.


The university's athletic teams are known as the Falcons and participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at the Division II level as a member of the Lone Star Conference. The teams' uniforms reflect the school colors of orange, white, and black.[10] The university currently offers 14 intercollegiate sports, seven for men for women: Men's football, baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer, softball, men's and women's swimming, men's and women's tennis, and volleyball.[11]

Student life

The Student Union

The current Student Union was inaugurated in 2001 in a centralized location on the second floor of the Mesa building. There it has a commons area, student workers' central, game rooms, meeting rooms, a multipurpose room, a coffee shop/deli. The Veteran Services office is also located within.

The Student Activity Center was opened in Spring of 2011 with a student cafeteria, coffee shop, game rooms with pool tables and gaming consoles, study rooms, and conference areas for student organizations with the Office of Student Life, Student Senate offices and Program Board offices being housed there.

Parker Ranch House Building

Parker Ranch House

The Parker Ranch House is a new addition to the campus, dedicated November 9, 2004. Parker Ranch House was named by the Parker family in memory of James Early "Jim" Parker, Jr. and Bessie Ola Parker. The Parkers embodied the ranching lifestyle of generations of a family that served the communities of Andrews and Ector Counties since 1907. Jim and Bessie Ola Parker weathered the Great Depression and years of drought before the Humble Oil and Refining Company discovered oil on one of their ranches, permitting them to sell the mineral rights. They had three ranches, including one in Andrews. Parker was involved in organizing the municipal structure of Andrews County in 1910. He later served as county commissioner from 1921 to 1924, established the Andrews Bank, and served as the president of its board of directors for many years.

The Mesa Journal

The Mesa Journal student publication provides information, commentary and entertainment for the UTPB community. Opinion/editorial statements and advertisements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the UT Permian Basin administration. The Mesa Journal is designed to inform, entertain, educate and heighten awareness of students, faculty and administrators at The University of Texas of the Permian Basin. Staff members will be responsible journalists by maintaining high ethical standards with fairness, accuracy and balance.

The Sandstorm

The Sandstorm, an annual magazine publication, is a collection of poems, short stories, and essays submitted by students and selected by a panel for publication. The magazine also prints photographs of student art including painting, sculpture, pottery, and photography. The staff and editor are selected from the student body; distribution takes place each spring.


  1. "Enrollment". National Center for Education Statistics. FY 2010. Retrieved February 7, 2012. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. "Spring Enrollment Up 15% Over Last Spring". Retrieved 2016-03-25.
  3. King, Grace; Meacham, Gem (June 15, 2010). "William Douglas Noël". The Handbook of Texas. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  4. I was the one driving the Volkswagen and served as the Chairman of the College of Science & Engineering Student Council.
  5. "Backgrounder on New Nuclear Plant Designs". United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. December 12, 2014. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  6. 1 2 (PDF) Retrieved October 31, 2012. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. "America Unhenged". Retrieved February 7, 2012.
  8. "UTPB master plan, renaming approved". Retrieved Aug 24, 2012.
  9. "Academics - Schools". University of Texas of the Permian Basin. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  10. "UTPB Athletics History". UTPB Falcons. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
  11. "Athletics". UTPB Falcons. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
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