As San Antonio continues celebrating its 300th birthday this month, Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson, president of Texas A&M University-San Antonio, continues to lead the city’s SA300 Tricentennial.
Nominated in December as president of the SA300 Tricentennial commission by San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Matson said she was “honored of course, humbled, surprised, all those adjectives that are positive.”
Focused on celebrating San Antonio’s past, present and future. Matson is actively overseeing the city’s simultaneous celebrations.
“I think all of us on the commission are bringing forward a great sense of pride, knowledge and understanding of our shared history, our shared community within the city and the county,” Matson said in an interview Thursday, May 3.
Matson is in charge of making leadership decisions, setting strategy and setting direction. She co-chairs on a commission of five board members including Lionel Sosa, local advertising and marketing pioneer; Dr. John Folks, former superintendent of Northside Independent School District; Dr. Alfonso Chiscano, vice president of SA300; and Father David Garcia, administrator of Mission Concepcion and director of the Old Spanish Missions of San Antonio.
Matson replaced Robert Thrailkill after he resigned December 2017, according to the City of San Antonio’s press release from the mayor Dec. 7. Chiscano said Matson “has brought leadership to the tricentennial chairs,” adding that she is business oriented and has helped the commission.
Matson said the commission welcomed ideas for the yearlong celebration from the community to nominate programs, activities and engagements throughout San Antonio.
“So planning has been going on for about 18 months, and there was a period in time where everyone in the community could nominate a program, activity or engagement of some sort that would be relative to the tricentennial,” she said. “The tricentennial has guiding principles that was to be as inclusive as possible and really impart education and knowledge.”
Universities and colleges around the city have come together to create a intra-university partnership and a series of symposiums that was fitting to each campus. Our Lady of the Lake University held a series about women in education.
The University of the Incarnate Word, whose campus is the site of the San Antonio River’s headwaters, held its series on how that strategic location has influenced education. Trinity University spoke about the future of higher education. A&M-San Antonio held its series on the influence of education in the Mexican-American community.
A&M-San Antonio stands out as the driving force of the city’s future planning, Matson said. The city’s master plan mentions the university as the economic catalyst for careers, land and economic development.
“Texas A&M-SA plays a critical part in the future of San Antonio,” Matson said. “Universities bring intellectual capital to the community. We have an important role to play in the growth and future of our city in terms of career development and creating learners and thinkers that will shape the next foreseeable 25-50 years.”
A&M-San Antonio has hosted or participated in several key tricentennial events, including San Antonio as a Crossroads, Tree-Centennial Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Tricentennial Founders Day Art & Culture and Tricentennial History and Education Roundtable: The History of the Land of Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
Matson was born in San Antonio. At a young age she moved with her family to California and then settled in Alaska. She said she’s proud to be “right back in the neighborhood, where I started.”
“For me having been born here and having been away for many decades and coming back, I have a much deeper sense of our history, of our culture, and I’ve learned tremendous facts about the amalgamation and the types of people that are living in our community and who have built our community,” Matson said.
Since being a part of Tricentennial as president, Matson said “it’s been a great leadership lesson and a great leadership experience for me. It has really made a huge difference for me personally as well as professionally in understanding the history of our lands, our connection to the missions, to the river, given that we are located right here.”
May 1 marked the city’s official kickoff of celebrating its 300th anniversary.
For more information about the SA300 Tricentennial, Click Here