University of Texas Celebrates 115 Years of Global Distance Learning at Austin’s EC
University of Texas
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The University of Texas at Austin’s Extended Campus (EC) has been delivering educational programs to learners in Texas and beyond for over a century. Since its inception in June 1909, EC has provided services, resources, and innovative learning experiences for continuing and professional education both on and off campus. As technological and economic advancements transformed the world throughout the 20th century, EC adapted alongside these changes.

In the early 1900s, distance education outreach involved physically bringing educational resources to remote parts of Texas through mobile libraries, academic competitions, and professional field training. The Package Loan Library, an early mobile library initiative launched in 1909, delivered literary resources to rural areas lacking local libraries or adequate public school informational resources. These resources covered current events like women’s suffrage, prohibition, the state penitentiary system, and child labor, often shipped in trunks before vehicular libraries became available.

The University Interscholastic League (UIL), founded by Extended Campus in 1910, encouraged students to develop leadership, skills, and collaboration through arts, sports, and academic competitions. Today, UIL remains the largest interschool organization of its kind globally.

Petroleum Extension (PETEX), established in 1944 in partnership with UT’s engineering school, offered practical distance education and specialized training for Texans in the oil and gas industry. PETEX now operates satellite training centers in Houston and Odessa, providing both traditional instructor-led and online courses to professionals worldwide.

“With modernization and the evolving needs of learners, especially regarding technological changes in the workplace, things may look different today than when Extended Campus first started, but our commitment to education and enthusiasm for sharing the resources of a top-tier university with the world are as strong as ever,” said Art Markman, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs.

As EC celebrates its 115th anniversary, its programs continue to modernize to meet the needs of professionals seeking to further their education and careers, from nonprofit workers to military personnel. In 2021, EC launched its program finder, an online catalog offering more than 200 degrees, professional certificate programs, continuing education credits, and workshops from across UT Austin.

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