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Trinity and San Antonio’s Chamber of Commerce

Thursday, April 18, 2019
Trinity leadership collage

Meet five University leaders who transformed the city

by Jeremy Gerlach

Trinity University was invited by San Antonio’s Chamber of Commerce to move to the city in 1941.

The move brought Trinity’s stay in Waxahachie to a close, and opened up a chance for the school to grow in a city on the worldwide stage. Upon arrival, Trinity cultivated major connections to the Chamber of Commerce itself, with multiple University presidents and Trustees transforming San Antonio’s economy, government policy, and workforce by serving on the Chamber board.

Now, as Trinity turns 150 and the Chamber turns 125, meet five Tigers who also helped transform San Antonio as chairmen of the Chamber of Commerce.

Calvert headshotJames H. Calvert

Trinity Trustee Emeritus
Chamber Chairman 1941

Calvert, who served as president of San Antonio’s iconic Joske Brothers department store before joining the Trinity community, was perhaps the person most directly responsible for Trinity’s warm welcome in San Antonio. Elected Chamber chairman in 1941, Calvert said the completion of the University project was "a major accomplishment" and welcomed the school to San Antonio "as a splendid addition to the community's institutions and cultural life."  

 

Witt headshotRobert R. Witt

Trinity Trustee
Chamber Chairman 1942

Witt, also a San Antonio businessman, served as Chamber chairman just after Calvert. Witt would eventually rise to chair of Trinity’s Board of Trustees, and he provided a crucial link between Trinity and the business community. Most importantly, Witt was instrumental in helping market the University in San Antonio as an economic engine, rather than an isolated religious institution.

Miller headshotCecil W. Miller

Trinity Trustee
Chamber Chairman 1945

Miller, along with Witt and Calvert, are referred to as Trinity’s “three wise men.” Of these three, Miller had perhaps the most direct impact on the San Antonio landscape, as he spearheaded the search for a permanent Trinity campus in the city. A well connected entrepreneur with strong ties to local civic leaders, Miller himself led negotiations for the land and incentives that would place Trinity at its current spot near Alamo Stadium.

Laurie headshotJames Woodin Laurie

Trinity President 1951-70
Chamber Chairman 1959

Laurie is best known in the Trinity community for leading the University from its Woodlawn campus, establishing a foothold in the modern Skyline campus, and guiding the school through complex issues such as desegregation, all while establishing a rock-solid foundation that spurred Trinity’s growth over the following decades. But as part of the Chamber, Laurie also helped lay another foundation for an iconic San Antonio landmark. In 1959, he helped oversee a Chamber committee that would eventually pave the way for the development of the world-famous San Antonio Riverwalk.

Stumberg headshotLouis H. Stumberg

Trinity Trustee
Chamber Chairman 1979

Stumberg, the entrepreneur who brought “Tex-Mex” to dinner tables across America, rose from selling frozen tamales heated by his car’s engine roof in the 1940s to a spot as a Trinity Trustee and vice chair of RJR Foods in 1967. Elected San Antonio Chamber of Commerce chairman in 1979, Stumberg began an event called “SA to DC,” where business leaders of the local community went to Washington, D.C., to meet with congressmen who were involved with projects in the San Antonio area. For 40 years, the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce has continued the event, leading hundreds of local leaders to the nation’s capital to advocate for the community on federal issues.

Stumberg’s entrepreneurial legacy and support for Trinity live on through his family—son L. Herbert Stumberg Jr., serves as current Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and he and his brother Eric sponsor the Stumberg Venture Competition, where Trinity students launch their own businesses.