Light the Tower: 139 Years of Changing the World

The UT Tower shines with burnt orange lights as seen from Littlefield Fountain

The UT Tower will shine with burnt orange lights Thursday, September 15 to celebrate the university’s 139th 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 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.

Learn more about our history and traditions.

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