The UT Tower will shine with burnt-orange lights Wednesday, September 15 to celebrate the university’s 138th birthday.

On Sept. 15, 1883, The University of Texas at Austin opened with one building, eight professors, one proctor, and 221 students — and a mission to change the world.

Today, UT Austin is a world-renowned higher education, research, and public service institution serving more than 51,000 students annually through 18 top-ranked colleges and schools. In the latest college rankings from U.S. News & World Report, UT Austin rose to No. 38 among national universities. The same rankings put UT Austin at No. 10 among U.S. public universities and No. 1 among public universities in Texas.

With an incomplete building, sitting on a mostly barren campus, boasting an inaugural faculty of eight professors, and joined by 221 students, the University took its first, tentative steps upon the stage of Academe.”

Read more about what the first day at UT was like on the UT History Corner

In 1839, the Congress of the Republic of Texas ordered that a site be set aside to meet the state’s higher education needs. After a series of delays over the next several decades, the state legislature reinvigorated the project in 1876, calling for the establishment of a “university of the first class.” Austin was selected as the site for the new university in 1881, and construction began on the original Main Building in November 1882.