The South Texas Seahawks

Originally, the South Texas Junior College and the South Texas College of Law were the same institution, a private junior college and law school administered by the YMCA. Classes were held in the basement of the YMCA building that used to sit at 1600 Louisiana (now the site of the Lyric Center). The South Texas Seahawks had their own yearbooks, newspaper (The Talon), basketball team, student government, and community service organizations. The law school, which started in 1923, predated the junior college by 25 years, but after World War II, the YMCA saw the great need to offer associate’s degrees and college coursework to veterans returning home. The Junior College began in 1948 as a night school, serving many low-income and non-traditional students in furtherance of their education. In the yearbooks, it’s easy to see the difference between the students of law and the students of the junior college, but the two existed peaceably until the mid 1960s, when the American Bar Association began to require a certain level of certification in the law schools in order for their students to be eligible to sit the bar exam. It was at this point, in 1966, that the South Texas College of Law became its own private law school, and the South Texas Junior College officially cut ties with the YMCA to become a private junior college (the largest in the state of Texas). In 1967, looking for a new home, STJC signed an agreement with the Merchants and Manufacturers Building to buy the entire thing and take over its current leases with tenants. Several donors helped to make this a reality by giving large monetary gifts or gifts-in-kind (including a diamond necklace worth over $10,000 in 1960s dollars). However, it was difficult to make ends meet, especially with the booming growth of the Houston Community College system. STJC looked at partnerships with HCC and, of course, the University of Houston, who had to close the doors on its original downtown center due to the competition from HCC and STJC. As we know, it was a merger with UH that eventually succeeded, although in 1975, scarcely a year after the finalizing of the merger, the new University of Houston Downtown College hired Dr. J. Don Boney away from his position as president of HCC to take over the presidency at UHDC.