Expanding the School’s Programs Through Graduate-Level Studies

By on May 24, 2012

A section of the university's library which holds many theses and dissertations written by former UTEP graduate students.

The Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy (now the University of Texas at El Paso) was established through an act of the thirty-third legislature of the State of Texas in 1913. This act determined the location of the school in the mountainous El Paso region. The region is full of a variety of geological formations that are commonly associated with the mining industry. From early on, the school’s unique location along the Rio Grande and next to the Franklin mountains presented the college with an opportunity to establish and develop its mining tradition. After the school’s creation in 1914, many graduates completed their studies with a degree in Mining Engineering or a Bachelor of Arts degree.

As the college grew so did the amount of degrees offered. This included the development of graduate degree programs by 1940. However, as early as the Fall of 1936, the College of Mines and Metallurgy was working out arrangements with the University of Texas at Austin to establish graduate work at the El Paso institution. The El Paso Times from August 30, 1936 had quoted Dr. D.M. Wiggins, President of the College of Mines at the time, as stating “The University (of Texas) made it very clear that this is but an experiment, but in permitting us to give advanced courses officials of the parent institution (UT) have recognized the outstanding work we are doing,…and have demonstrated their willingness to co-operate in providing a much needed service in the Southwest.” Graduate work at the College of Mines first developed in three or four leading departments of the Liberal Arts College. President Wiggins further stated that “El Pasoans and residents of the entire Southwest whould be as deeply appreciative, for it means so much for the school and to our section of the country.” The first completed Masters thesis was finished in 1942 by history student Nancy Lee Hammons who wrote a history of El Paso County. Keeping with the school’s mining origins, the first Doctoral degree program was approved in the field of geological sciences in 1974. The first Doctoral dissertation in geology was finished in 1979 by then Ph.D. student Gary Massingill. He would also be UTEP’s first Doctoral graduate. As a field of study, the geological sciences had been a key aspect of the school since the institution’s foundation. The school has of course evolved greatly over the past decades and now offers an increasingly diverse amount of graduate degree options. These include over eighty specified Master’s programs and nineteen Doctoral degree concentrations.

The school's first Master's thesis from 1942, "History of El Paso County, Texas To 1900," by history student Nancy Lee Hammons.

To explore what topics past UTEP graduate students have written their theses and dissertations on, feel free to search the ProQuest database : http://0-search.proquest.com.lib.utep.edu/pqdtlocal1006279/advanced?accountid=7121. Or, visit the UTEP library, as all Master’s and Doctoral Publications are housed therein.

[Sources: The El Paso Times, August 30, 1936; UTEP Publication, Origins: The Texas School of Mines and Metallurgy, 1913-1915 (1983); Nancy Lee Hammons, “History of El Paso County, Texas to 1900″ (MA thesis., The College of Mines and Metallurgy, 1942) Also, thanks to Fabian Villanueva of the Graduate Office for his confirmation of specific dates needed. ]

Bryan Winter is an assistant in the C.L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department of the UTEP Library. He earned a BS in Geography from New Mexico State University, and is currently in his final year as an MA student in History at UTEP.