By Ron Brown, PhD,
Assistant Vice President of Academic Services
Authorized as the Southwest Texas Normal School in 1899, Texas State was one of several Texas universities created to train public school teachers for the state of Texas. While preparing educators remains an essential mission, in the beginning all courses and experiences were designed with this goal in mind.
Each of the early departments followed this emphasis, so what is today the McCoy College of Business Administration began with teacher preparation in typing, shorthand and bookkeeping; the College of Science and Engineering provided industrial arts training for future shop teachers; and the Department of Agriculture and School of Family and Consumer Sciences trained high school agriculture and home economics teachers. This initial mission has placed Texas State alumni in nearly every school district in the state.
When Texas State opened, Thomas Green Harris was the first “principal,” and 17 faculty members taught the first 303 students. Five campus buildings bear the last names of these early teachers and attest to the heritage of Principal Harris and faculty members Lucy Burleson, Mary S. Butler, Lula Hines and Helen Hornsby. The presence of women among those so honored is another distinctive tradition at Texas State, where 10 of the original faculty members were women.
Texas State first became a college in 1919 and began awarding baccalaureate degrees to its graduates. In 1937, the university awarded its first master’s degrees, and in 2000, the Department of Geography awarded the first doctoral degrees to Lisa DeChano and Todd Votteler. Texas State has gone through five name changes, becoming a university in 1969 and dropping its directional designation in 2003.
In fall 2015, Texas State enrolled 37,979 students in 97 bachelor’s, 88 master’s and 12 doctoral degree programs at both the San Marcos and Round Rock locations. The original building, Old Main, has become one of 245 Texas State buildings in the San Marcos area, and the campus has grown from 11 acres to 495 acres. In 1901, the Texas Legislature appropriated $45,000 for Old Main, and 111 years later Texas State opened the Undergraduate Academic Center, which cost more than $47 million.
In the past 113 years, Texas State has had nine presidents, beginning with Harris and culminating with current president Denise M. Trauth. The first three — Harris, Cecil Eugene Evans and John Garland Flowers — served a combined total of 61 years and gave the institution a sense of stability and purpose that characterizes Texas State to this day. The first Pedagog, Texas State’s yearbook, set the lofty goal of preparing citizens; today’s Statement of Core Values affirms a similar commitment to creating humane and ethical individuals who will seek excellence, create a nurturing environment and cultivate personal character. We continue to honor the traditions of our past while planning for the next 100 years and beyond.