Other four-year university on San Antonio’s South Side has expansion hopes, plans

Baptist University of the Americas accredited before TAMUSA was founded

SAN ANTONIO – There’s more than one accredited four-year university on San Antonio’s South Side.

Nationally accredited since 2003, Baptist University of the Americas became a private, four-year university on San Antonio’s South Side six years before the formation of Texas A&M San Antonio in 2009.

“I keep saying we need to quit being the best kept secret in San Antonio,” said BUA President and CEO Dr. Abe Jacquez, .

Yet as the Mexican Baptist Bible Institute and then as the Hispanic Baptist Theological Seminary, it had been a landmark along Interstate 35 South for 52 years.

Its original location of its founding 75 years ago was near downtown San Antonio.

After changing course nearly 20 years ago and being accredited by the Association of Biblical Higher Education, Jacquez said BUA is “in the same consortium with other Baptist schools like Baylor, Dallas Baptist, Houston Baptist, Wayland.”

He said BUA is supported by the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

Jacquez said he believes what sets BUA apart from much larger universities is its strong cross-cultural emphasis with students from all over the world and its affordability.

He said tuition is three times lower than other private universities.

“At BUA, you’re getting the best deal in Texas and really the United States,” Jacquez said.

Its small enrollment of only about 115 undergraduates, mostly online, also is considered a plus.

“The smaller number of students here allows us to really get to know students,” said Dr. Albert Smith, interim chair of the Human Behavior Department. Smith said it helps in teaching them more effectively.

“I’ve visited many colleges, but this one, it just feels like a family,” said James Onion, a sophomore majoring in business leadership.

But Alondra Aguilar, who is majoring in human behavior, was quick to point out BUA has rigorous academic standards.

“They are very strict with how you do academically,” Aguilar said.

BUA is now settling into its new home as of this year in the 2400 block of West. Ansley on the other side of I-35 South where it began.

Its new campus is what had been BUA’s student housing.

What look like apartments or condos have been re-purposed as offices and classrooms, while still keeping some housing for its single and married students.

Now that its transition is complete and the school is debt-free, Jacquez said BUA is starting its strategic planning process for its 60-acre campus over the next five years, followed by a capital campaign for new construction.

Jacquez said it also plans to add more degree programs, including perhaps an elementary education degree with bilingual certification.

Currently in addition to an associate arts degree in cross-cultural studies, BUA offers bachelor’s degrees in business leadership, human behavior, the social sciences, music and theology.

Jacquez pointed out as of last August, its theology degree is now completely online and in Spanish.

He also said in the next few months, BUA will begin offering a new master’s of arts in practical ministry of theology.

Although much of its faculty are adjunct professors, Jacquez said, “We’re in a position now to move forward to hire full time faculty.”

Considering how it’s evolved over the years, Jacquez said, “There’s a lot of wonderful things that God’s doing at BUA.”

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About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.