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Remembering the shifting roles of Upward Bound

How has this public service/recruitment program at SU shaped how its participants see themselves and their futures in higher-ed?

Upward Bound is a federally funded program initiated by the U.S. Department of Education in 1965. The program was inspired by the Educational Opportunity Act, which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, declaring that no U.S. state can deny equal educational opportunity to any person based on gender, race, or nationality through intentional segregation by an educational institution. Upward Bound is one of eight programs under the broader label of TRIO, a term created in the late 1960s to identify other programs initiated by the Higher Education Act to support minority and disadvantaged students.

The program was introduced to Southwestern in 1999 by Samuel Wheeler with the aim of encouraging the educationally and economically disadvantaged students from Georgetown, Richard, Taylor, Jarrell, and Granger High Schools to increase their college readiness and eventually attend college. The program ran through the fall and spring semesters with an additional summer course for seniors preparing for the transition to college. The participants selected were prospective first-generation college students.

Upward Bound has moved locations several times in its 25 years on Southwestern’s campus. Participants initially gathered in the old Pirate Tavern, which had been a cafe, post office, and student gathering spot in the first half of the 1900s. After the Student Union Building was built in 1958, the old Pirate Tavern served a number of different purposes before being demolished in 2024.

The Upward Bound program was housed in The Pirate Tavern from 1999 to the end of the 2000s. In the 2010s, it was relocated to the McCook-Crain Building on the far east side of campus, where it was located the longest, and where the pin has been placed for this entry. Once the McCook-Crain building was slated for the demolition that eventually occurred in 2024, the program was moved to its current location in the Mundy Building.

The 1999 date of Upward Bound’s introduction to SU is important as it coincides with the rescinding of the Hopwood ruling by the Texas Attorney General, John Cornyn. The Hopwood decision was the result of a lawsuit filed by 4 White men against the University of Texas’ law school, who claimed that classification by race within the admissions process was discriminatory against them as White applicants. The Supreme Court ruling prohibited any consideration of race within the university admissions process, marking it as unconstitutional, which led to the loss of affirmative-action scholarships, promptly tanking the enrollment of racial minorities in higher education institutions across the state of Texas. Although Southwestern is not a public university, it was forced to comply with these guidelines due to its use of various forms of federal funding.

Amidst the fallout from the Hopwood decision, there was a lot of discussion surrounding how Southwestern would retain the momentum of its previous diversity initiatives as the enrollment of racial minorities had dropped from an all-time high of 20% in 1996, to an average of 12% between 1996-1998.

When researching the history of Upward Bound, I found similar programs at Southwestern that offered tutoring to African American and Latina/o high school students in the late 1980s and early 90s. One of the programs unique to Southwestern, titled Operation Achievement, ran concurrently with Upward Bound. While I detail the history of these programs in a separate entry, I will highlight here how both programs altered their marketing in an attempt to maintain their effect as a recruitment tool to increase the racial diversity at SU.

To comply with Hopwood, the marketing for these programs shifted to emphasize how they aided economically disadvantaged students towards a potential future in higher education as opposed to their initial emphasis on students within the racial minority at their respective high schools. Through this change, Operation Achievement maintained its presence on campus with a minority student enrollment that averaged around 70% and ran concurrently with Upward Bound until 2014.

Upward Bound maintained its purpose as a recruitment tool for Southwestern by offering a full-ride scholarship to 1 student a year who had completed 4 years of the program. As the program became more established, more scholarship opportunities for more Upward Bound students became available for universities across the state of Texas, even when students completed the entirety of their time in the program at SU.

While the program did lead to a higher enrollment at Southwestern from students of different socioeconomic backgrounds, by offering the potential for scholarships at institutions other than Southwestern, it moved away from its initial purpose here as a pipeline program while broadening to maintain the community-service aspects of similar past programs by inspiring prospective first-generation high-school students towards a future in higher education, at Southwestern or elsewhere.

By recognizing the history of Upward Bound and its predecessors at Southwestern, we see how they shape students' perspectives on Southwestern and the overall purpose of higher education simultaneously.


Upward Bound Banner in current location, Mundy Hall, 2023 Source: Teddy Hoffman Creator: Teddy Hoffman Date: 2023
Upward Bound 2012 cohort Source: SU MarComm Creator: unknown Date: 2012
Upward Bound 2022 cohort Source: SU MarComm Creator: unknown Date: 2022
Upward Bound Pledge Source: Teddy Hoffman Creator: Teddy Hoffman Date: 2023
Upward Bound 2008-9 Quilt Source: Bob Bednar Creator: Bob Bednar Date: 2023
Upward Bound 2021 grads Source: Bob Bednar Creator: Bob Bednar Date: 2023
Upward Bound Wall of Fame Source: Bob Bednar Creator: Bob Bednar Date: 2023
Upward Bound Wall of Fame Source: Bob Bednar Creator: Bob Bednar Date: 2023
Upward Bound Wall of Fame Source: Bob Bednar Creator: Bob Bednar Date: 2023
Upward Bound Wall of Fame Source: Bob Bednar Creator: Bob Bednar Date: 2023



Shawn Maganda '24, “Remembering the shifting roles of Upward Bound,” Placing Memory, accessed July 25, 2024,