As the Fall 1975 semester approached, nearly 10,000 students registered for fall classes– 60 percent more students than the previous spring. Fortunately, ACC enjoyed twice as much classroom space in which to teach them, thanks to the availability of the former Stephen F. Austin High School campus, located at 12th and Rio Grande streets. Austin Independent School District had relocated Austin High School to a new campus near Town Lake and agreed to lease the old campus’ main building, which had been constructed in 1911, for use as a full-time, day/night facility. The arrangement exemplified the benefits that accrued to ACC, still without local taxing authority, from its connection to AISD. The campus was initially Christened the “Austin Campus” and then changed to the “Rio Grande Campus” of Austin Community College.
Preparing the 64-year-old Rio Grande Campus for a full schedule of daytime and nighttime classes was an enormous challenge due to the age of the building, limited office and classroom space, and tight budgets. But eager and resourceful employees responded to the challenge. Many spent Labor Day weekend painting their new offices, which in some cases were actually converted closets. College officials turned the former school cafeteria into a student lounge. ACC also acquired an abandoned H.E.B. grocery store one block west of the Rio Grande Campus and utilized it as an occupational and technical Skills Center. The ACC Board of Trustees negotiated the purchase of property once owned by the Austin Athletic Club, including tennis courts, and leased them to the City of Austin to enhance the College’s constricted cash inflow.