John Tarleton’s dream to create an institution of higher education for students of modest means today is reality. Tarleton State University offers an affordable, quality education and boasts graduates whose accomplishments would make its founder proud.
This monthly column, by an anonymous university author, looks at the school’s progress, issues of our time, achievements and challenges through the eyes of John Tarleton—a dreamer’s point of view
It’s not over.
Our centennial celebration as founding member of The Texas A&M University System kicked off in January with the grand opening of a $3.8 million Agricultural Field Machinery and Fabrication Laboratory on property originally donated to establish Tarleton as part of the System.
A concert with music composed by faculty. Lectures on alumnus and military hero Maj. Gen. James Earl Rudder, who became 16th president of Texas A&M University and third chancellor of the A&M System. Pen-and-ink portraits of Tarleton presidents. Tarleton Day in Austin. Ground breaking for a $54 million engineering building. And a party to commemorate the milestone of 1,000 students enrolled at our center at McLennan Community College in Waco.
There’s more to come.
The birthday bash of the century arrives Sept. 20, marking the 100th anniversary of the start of classes after the Texas Legislature approved our partnership with A&M in February 1917. The shindig starts at 5 p.m. in Tarleton’s Heritage Park. Everyone’s invited.
We’ll follow that with ground breaking ceremonies for the $26.4 million renovation and expansion of Memorial Stadium during the Sept. 23 football game against West Texas A&M. That just happens to be Family Weekend, too!
When it’s all said and done, the stadium will boast an improved press box, suites, concession areas, ticket booths and premium seats with chair backs.
Overall stadium seating increases to more than 9,000 and west side stands will be converted for our home fans. Football turf was replaced this summer—love those purple end zones—and track-and-field surfaces get updates after renovation is completed next fall.
An exhibit of historical artifacts is on display in the Carriage House at the Stephenville Historical House Museum through the end of October. A second exhibit will be part of the museum’s annual benefit, Sundown on the Square, on Oct. 14 and located in the foyer of the Erath County Courthouse.
Highlight of our centennial celebration is a visit from the A&M System Board of Regents and top officials Oct. 18 through 20, when they conduct their regular fall meeting on our Stephenville campus. Members also will participate in ceremonies to honor Rudder that Thursday when we dedicate a pedestrian mall and unveil a life-size statue sculpted by Granbury artist and Tarleton Distinguished Alumnus Mike Tabor. Vanderbilt Street on campus becomes Rudder Way.
One of the most decorated soldiers in U.S. history, Rudder was a student at Tarleton from 1927 to 1930 and returned eight years later to teach and coach football after graduating from Texas A&M and coaching at Brady High School.
Tarleton is where Rudder discovered who he was and what he wanted to be. Called into active military duty in 1941, he commanded the historic D-Day assault up the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc in World War II and long will be remembered for the “Rudder Way” of doing things—and as a true example of Tarleton’s core values.
It’s hard to believe how far Tarleton has come since joining the A&M System. We’ve enjoyed scores of accomplishments in the past century, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
There’s still more to come.