About University Lands
University Lands, under the direction of
Office of Business Affairs,
The University of Texas System, is responsible
for managing the Permanent University Fund lands and the Trust Minerals. Under the
supervision of Jim Benson, Executive Director, University Lands is comprised
of three divisions: Surface Interests, Mineral Interests, and
History of the University Lands
The Permanent University Fund (PUF) lands had their beginning in
an address by President Mirabeau B. Lamar>
to the Third Congress of the Republic of Texas
on December 20, 1838. President Lamar strongly urged the Texas Congress to quickly
establish the foundations for a vast system of education. On January 26, 1839, fifty leagues (approximately 220,000 acres) of land were set
aside from the public domain by the Republic of Texas for the establishment and
endowment of a university.
The State of Texas Constitution of 1876 called for the creation of the University
of Texas and appropriated one million acres of land for the establishment of a Permanent
University Fund. An additional one million acres were added to the PUF in 1883.
These lands constitute the bulk of what is commonly referred to as the University
lands or PUF lands. Now totaling approximately 2.1 million acres, most
of this land is located in the West Texas counties of Andrews, Crane, Crockett,
Culberson, Dawson, Ector, El Paso, Gaines, Hudspeth, Irion, Loving, Martin, Pecos,
Reagan, Schleicher, Terrell, Upton, Ward and Winkler.
Since this beginning, a total of $6.44 billion has been deposited into the Permanent
University Fund (PUF) from oil and gas royalties, lease bonuses and rentals generated
from the exploration and development of the University lands. Investment income
from the PUF, which is shared by The University of Texas (UT) System and
Texas A&M University System, is used to finance construction,
renovations, major library acquisitions, significant educational and research equipment
and academic excellence programs.
Oil was first discovered on the University
lands in 1923 with the completion of the Santa Rita No. 1
in Reagan County. At that time, the Permanent University Fund and the income available
from its investment began a period of rapid growth.
Most of the surface acreage managed by University Lands is leased for grazing purposes.
Over the years, the UT System has added the equivalent of over one million acres
to its holdings by increasing the productivity of existing land by 50 percent through
soil and water conservation programs, innovative range management, and cooperative
In 1974, the UT System expanded its
use of the University lands to include an experimental vineyard for research. Although
this project is no longer in operation, a commercial vineyard of approximately 1,000
acres and a multi-million dollar commercial winery
are now located on the University lands near Fort Stockton.
relatively new activity on the University lands is the commercial generation of
electricity from wind power. In 2001, two wind farms, with approximately 100 wind
turbines generating a total capacity of 65.3 megawatts, were built on PUF lands
in Pecos County. Additional wind power projects
on PUF lands are expected in the future as the demand for green power