John Tarleton’s dream was to create an institution of higher education for students of modest means.

Today, that dream is real. Tarleton State University offers an affordable, quality education and boasts graduates whose accomplishments would leave 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.

Tarleton State University has experienced phenomenal growth since 1899.

Enrollment. Academic programs. Buildings.

This year we’ll celebrate the opening of two buildings in Stephenville and the first on our planned campus in Fort Worth as well as completion of our work on Memorial Stadium.

It’s not just about buildings, though. It’s about making dreams come true for our students.

Engineering Building

            Come March we’ll open the doors to the new 97,000-square-foot, state-of-the art Engineering Building on Washington Street that will provide space for programs currently located across the Stephenville campus.

The number of Tarleton engineering, engineering technology and computer science students has doubled since 2010, and continued enrollment growth is projected as the university contributes to meeting the need for highly skilled engineering professionals in Texas.

Heavy-use and high-bay labs — with main corridors wide enough to move materials and equipment by forklift — and a fluids and materials testing lab along with classrooms and offices will fill the first floor. Innovative classrooms, a robotics lab, a prototyping lab, a computer lab and more offices will be upstairs.

Memorial Stadium

In May we’ll celebrate the $26.4 million completion of Memorial Stadium’s renovation and expansion. The project reflects our commitment to provide the premier student-focused university experience.

The stadium will boast an improved press box, suites, entrances and ticket booths, enhanced concessions and premium seats with chair backs. Seating will increase from some 7,000 to nearly 10,000, and the west-side Lonn Reisman Athletic Center, named for the school’s athletic director, will be new seating for home fans.

Fort Worth Campus

Join us just before the fall semester starts in August when we open the doors to a place in Fort Worth that we can truly call our own. The first building on our planned Fort Worth campus is located just off Chisholm Trail Parkway on 80 acres donated by Walton Development.

This first building is a nod to our rich heritage and bright future. Our presence in Fort Worth goes back 40 years when we started with eight students on West Myrtle Street.

Today, Tarleton serves approximately 2,000 students in Fort Worth, offering undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs to working adults, community college graduates and returning students.

            Depending on resources for additional buildings, the campus could serve 9,000 students by 2030.

Animal & Plant Sciences Center

Construction is under way on a new Animal & Plant Sciences Center and is expected to be substantially completed before summer. We’ll have a grand opening during Homecoming Week in October.

In addition to state-of-the-art laboratories, a teaching arena, covered livestock area and greenhouses, the new complex — located at the Agricultural Center along College Farm Road (County Road 518) — will have a retail center that will sell Tarleton-produced frozen and processed meats, vegetables, ornamental plants, vegetable and bedding plants, and woody ornamentals to the community.

Growth everywhere you turn.

            And the right kind of growth — reasoned, progressive, lasting, beneficial.

            It makes my heart happy.