Texas State University

For the university system, see Texas State University System.

Texas State University
Motto "The noblest search is the search for excellence."
Type State university
Established 1899
Endowment $164.3 million (2015)[1]
President Denise Trauth
Provost Eugene Bourgeois
Students 38,849 (Fall 2016) [2]
Undergraduates 34,276 [2]
Postgraduates 4,573 [2]
Location San Marcos, Texas, U.S.
29°53′20″N 97°56′20″W / 29.88889°N 97.93889°W / 29.88889; -97.93889Coordinates: 29°53′20″N 97°56′20″W / 29.88889°N 97.93889°W / 29.88889; -97.93889
Campus 457 acres (1.85 km2)
Colors Maroon and Old gold[3]
Athletics NCAA Division ISun Belt
Nickname Bobcats
Mascot Boko the Bobcat
Website www.txstate.edu

Texas State University is a state university located in San Marcos, Texas, United States. Established in 1899 as the Southwest Texas State Normal School, it opened its doors in 1903 to 303 students with a focus to educate students to become teachers. Since that time it has grown into the largest institution in the Texas State University System and the fourth-largest university in the state of Texas boasting an enrollment of over 38,000 students. It has 10 colleges and about 50 schools and departments, including nationally recognized programs in Geography, Criminal Justice and Music. President Lyndon B. Johnson graduated from the institution in 1930.

Texas State's main campus consists of 245 buildings on 492 acres (1.99 km2) of hilly land along the San Marcos River. It also has a satellite campus that started as a multi-institution teaching center offering undergraduate and graduate programs at the Texas State University Round Rock Campus (RRC) in the greater north Austin area.


The Southwest Texas State Normal School was proposed in a March 3, 1899, bill by State Representative Fred Cocke. Cocke represented the citizens of Hays and surrounding counties where the school was to be located. While there was opposition to the bill, with the support of State Senator J.B. Dibrell, it was finally passed and signed into law on May 10, 1899, by Governor Joseph D. Sayers.[4] The school's purpose was to provide manual training and teach domestic sciences and agriculture. Any students earning a diploma and teaching certificate from the school would be authorized to teach in the state's public schools.[5] In October 1899, the San Marcos City Council voted to donate 11 acres (45,000 m2) of land at what was known as Chautauqua Hill for the school to be built on. It was not until 1901 that the Texas legislature accepted this donation and approved $25,000 to be used for construction of buildings on the site.[6] The building now known as Old Main was completed and the school opened its doors to its first enrollment of 303 students in September 1903.[4]

In 1912, the San Marcos School Board began a partnership with the school to allow Southwest Texas State Normal School students to instruct local school children as part of their training to become teachers. The San Marcos East End Ward School, comprising the first eight grades of the school district, was moved onto the Southwest Texas State campus in 1917. In 1935, a formal contract between Southwest Texas State Teachers College, as it was known then, and the San Marcos school district for the "Public Schools [to become] the laboratory school for said Teachers College." The school would be under the control and supervision of the city of San Marcos but Southwest Texas State was responsible for providing and maintaining buildings and equipment for the city's elementary and junior high schools.[7]:15–18

The college enrolled its first African American students in 1963, following a federal lawsuit brought by Dana Smith, who became one of the first five African Americans at the institution when a district court judge ruled that they could not be denied admission based on race.[8]

On November 8, 1965, the school's most famous alumnus, United States President Lyndon B. Johnson, returned to his alma mater to sign the Higher Education Act of 1965, which was part of his Great Society.[9] In a speech, held in Strahan Coliseum on the school's campus, prior to signing the bill, he recounted his own difficulties affording to go to college: having to shower and shave in the school's gymnasium, living above a faculty member's garage, and working multiple jobs.[10]


The campus has grown substantially from its original 11 acres in 1899. During the first 40 years of the school's history, the campus was expanded to accommodate 18 buildings around the original Main Building. These buildings included academic buildings, a library, buildings to house the San Marcos school students, dormitories, a dining hall, and men's and women's gymnasiums.[7]:18–31 In 1926, 90 acres of land adjacent to the San Marcos River was purchased by A.B. Rogers to build a hotel, glass-bottom boat rides and other water-based attractions to become the Aquarena Springs theme park. The university bought the property in 1994 intending to use the land as a research and education center. In 2002, this piece of land became known as the River System Institute and offered educational tours including a wetlands boardwalk and continued to offer glass-bottom boat rides.[11]

In 1996, the school began offering courses in Round Rock, Texas on the campus of Westwood High School. It originally offered night classes that allowed students to earn graduate degrees in Business Administration and Education. As enrollment in these programs increased and with a gift of 101 acres (0.41 km2), the Texas State University Round Rock Campus was constructed and opened in 2005.[6]

Name changes

The school has been through a number of name changes since its opening. The first change occurred after the Board of Regents, in 1916, approved the school to start granting degrees and became a senior college. It then became known as Southwest Texas State Normal College in 1918.[4]:8[7]:55 In 1921, there was a desire to improve academic standards of normal schools in Texas to more closely meet the requirements of the University of Texas at Austin.[12]:60 These changes resulted in the school's second name change, in 1923, when the Texas Legislature renamed the school to Southwest Texas State Teachers College.[4]:40 The state legislature approved another name change for the school and became known as the Southwest Texas State College on September 1, 1959. Ten years later, in 1969, the Texas Legislature again changed the school's name, this time to Southwest Texas State University.[6]

In 2003, the school's then, Associated Student Government (ASG), approached State Senator Jeff Wentworth requesting that the school be renamed Texas State University at San Marcos. The ASG had unanimously approved a resolution supporting the name change citing 20 reasons for the change, including that the current name reflected too much regionalism for a university attempting to reach top-tier status. The ASG further said that donations from the school's alumni would go to implementing the name change so that state tax dollars would not be required.[13] Students and alumni protested the change, saying no vote was taken on the matter.[14] A bill, sponsored by Senator Wentworth, was passed and on September 1, 2003, the school officially became known as Texas State University–San Marcos. The city was originally included in the name to differentiate from other schools in the Texas State University System who were, at the time, expected to change their names to Texas State University (e.g. Texas State University–Lamar, Texas State University–Sam Houston, Texas State University–San Angelo). With those name changes not occurring and Texas State expanding with a campus in Round Rock a request was made, in 2013, to remove the city from the school's name. A bill to change the school's name was passed by the Eighty-third Texas Legislature[15] and was signed by Governor Rick Perry.[16] The name was officially changed on September 1, 2013.


Aerial view of campus in 2009
Aerial view of campus in 2009

The Texas State University main campus is located in San Marcos, Texas, midway between Austin and San Antonio along Interstate 35. It spans 492 acres (1.99 km2),[17] including the original land donated by the city of San Marcos consisting of Chautauqua Hill which Old Main still sits atop. Other parts of the Texas State property including farm and ranch land, residential, recreational areas and commercial incubators cover more than 5,038 acres (20.39 km2) of additional land.[17] On the eastern end of campus is Sewell Park, which is on the banks of the spring-fed San Marcos River. The river bank, leased by the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, was built up from the river bottom by university workers. Initially named Riverside Park, it was later renamed Sewell Park in 1946 in honor of Dr. S.M. "Froggy" Sewell, a mathematics professor who helped form the park.[18]

The Quad is the heart of campus because it is surrounded by the majority of the academic buildings on campus and the bus loop where most of the university bus routes stop on campus. Since many students pass through the quad, it is the primary gathering place for student organizations to man booths and tables promoting fundraisers and events.[19] The west end of the Quad has a 17-foot high aluminum sculpture of two horses, called the Fighting Stallions.[20] This area is declared the University's free speech zone and was subject to one of the first court challenges to the creation of such zones after the suspension of ten students protesting the Vietnam War.[21][22] The east end of the Quad goes up to the top of the highest hill on campus where the University's oldest building, Old Main, sits.

The main campus in San Marcos served as the location of the fictional school TMU (Texas Methodist University) in the NBC TV series Friday Night Lights.[23]

Old Main

Old Main Building on Texas State's campus
Old Main

Built in 1903 and originally called the Main Building, Old Main was the first building on the Texas State campus. The design was closely patterned to the Old Main Building of 1889 at Sam Houston State University, designed by Alfred Muller of Galveston. E. Northcraft was the engineer at that construction, and 14 years later built the Texas State University Main Building, in form as a red-gabled Victorian Gothic building.[24] It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.[25] In more than a century of use, and a number of renovations, the building has served many purposes from being the university's administration building to an auditorium and chapel to now housing the offices for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication as well as the College of Fine Arts and Communication.[26]

Alkek Library

Main article: Alkek Library
Alkek Library Building on Texas State's campus
Alkek Library

The university's library was named in 1991 for an alumnus, Albert B. Alkek, who became an oilman, rancher, and philanthropist. The Albert B. Alkek Library serves as the main, central academic library supporting the Texas State University community. It is a "select depository" for United States and Texas government documents, receiving a large number of government publications from the state and 60% of all federal publications. The library also encompasses niche collections and papers including the Wittliff collections, the largest US repository of contemporary Mexican photography, the King of the Hill archives, major works of Cormac McCarthy and Sam Shepard, and the Lonesome Dove miniseries collection.[27]

Sewell Park

Presidential candidate Barack Obama on a campaign stop at Sewell Park in 2008.
Then Presidential hopeful Barack Obama on a campaign stop at Sewell Park in 2008.

Sewell Park is a park located on the Texas State University campus along the San Marcos River in San Marcos, Texas. The park neighbors City Park, the San Marcos Mill Tract and Strahan Coliseum.

It was opened in 1917 by the university, then known as Southwest Texas State Normal School, and was called Riverside Park. The land was owned by the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and leased to the school. It was originally used by students to learn how to swim and for general recreation.[28] In its formation, mud from the river bottom was removed to build up the banks. In 1949 the park was renamed to Sewell Park in honor of mathematics professor S.M. Sewell.[29]

In February 2008, over 15,000 people gathered in Sewell Park to attend a rally for U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama.[30][31][32]

A long time fixture of Sewell Park, local legend Dan Barry better known as "Frisbee Dan" can be seen on just about any sunny day of the year tossing his frisbee and keeping a watchful eye on the park.[33]

Texas State University Round Rock Campus

The Round Rock Campus (RRC) is a campus of Texas State University that is located in Round Rock, Texas. It originally started as fifteen temporary buildings on the Westwood High School campus. It was moved to its current, permanent location in 2005 after the donation of 101 acres (0.41 km2) by the Avery family. While its original purpose was to serve as instructional space for Texas State University, the Austin Community College, and Temple College, today only Texas State holds classes on the campus. The campus' first building, the Avery Building, was opened in 2005, while the Nursing Building opened in 2010.[34]


Student body

As of the fall 2014 semester, Texas State University had a total enrollment of 36,790.[35] This follows a trend of record enrollment numbers over several years.[36] Of the student body, 31,032 are undergraduate students with the remaining 4,536 students being post-baccalaureate or graduate students.[35] The university accepted 57.6% of freshmen applicants who applied to attend the fall 2012 semester;[37] this includes the guaranteed acceptance of any Texas high school graduate with a grade point average that ranked them in the top 10% of their high school class.[38] Between 61% and 64% of undergraduate students earn their degree after six years.[39] Hispanic students made up 30% of the student body in 2013, which increased to 32% in 2014,[40] qualifying the University to be designated as a Hispanic-serving institution.[41] Additionally, the student body consists of approximately 55% female students, 80% students who live off-campus, and only 10% students who are members of a fraternity or sorority.[42]


University rankings
Forbes[43] 487
U.S. News & World Report[44] 12 (West)
Master's University class
Washington Monthly[45] 78

Texas State University is ranked 12th of U.S. News & World Report 2015 Top Public Schools, Regional (West) Universities.[42] The Princeton Review has also ranked Texas State as one of America's Best Value Colleges.[46] The university also has the distinction of being the 13th best four-year school for veterans according to Military Times EDGE magazine.[47][48] Forbes ranks Texas State as 487th in the nation and 119th in the south.[49]

The University's School of Social Work has been listed 7th in a ranking of top colleges for online social work programs.[50] Poets & Writers has ranked the Master of Fine Arts program as 45th in the nation.[51] The College of Education is ranked 140th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, tied with Drake University, the University of Akron and others.[52]

The Department of Theatre and Dance was ranked No. 9 in the country by best-art-colleges.com for their bachelor's and master's degrees in 8 art programs.[53]


Texas State University offers degrees in 97 bachelor programs, 88 master programs and 12 doctoral programs.[54] The university has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools since 1925 and had its last review in 2010.[55]

These programs are offered through ten academic colleges, including:

  • College of Liberal Arts
  • College of Science and Engineering
  • University College


In January 2012, Texas State University was designated an emerging research university by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. To achieve this status a university must spend at least $14 million in its research endeavors and either offer at least 10 doctoral degrees or have at least 150 enrolled doctoral students. At the time of being designated as an emerging research university, Texas State was spending almost $33.5 million on research and had 400 students enrolled among its 12 doctoral programs. This classification places the university at the same level as the University of Texas at El Paso and the University of Texas at San Antonio.[56]

One of Texas State's facilities includes its Center for Research Commercialization that was approved by the Texas State University System Regents in May 2011 with a focus on environmental sustainability and biotechnology.[57] The facility is funded through multiple grants including $1.8 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and $4.2 million from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund.[58] The facility will serve as a location for university faculty to perform advanced research and to commercialize that research into startup companies.[59]

The Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State is one of the four extant body farms in the United States and the largest such forensics research facility in the world.[60]

In August 2012, Texas State's River Systems Institute was renamed The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. This name change was the result of donations totaling $5 million from The Meadows Foundation in Dallas, Texas. The university plans on earning a total of $10 million from The Meadows Foundation and other sources for the center to study interactions between water and the overall environment. These studies include an examination of springs, drought and their effects on public water supplies. The center was originally founded in 2002 with funding, in part, from The Meadows Foundation. Since that time it has focused its research on the San Marcos Springs and Spring Lake, the second largest spring in the Southwest United States.[61]

Faculty from the various college have consistently been given Fulbright Scholar grants[62] resulting in Texas State being recognized as one of the top producing universities of Fulbright Scholars.[63][64]

Extracurricular activities

Residential life

Approximately 20% of Texas State students live in on-campus or in university-owned housing[65] including about 95% of freshman students.[66] Beginning in August 2012, there were approximately 6,353 beds in a variety of housing options including traditional dorms and apartment-style housing offered by the university.[67]

Student organizations and activities

Texas State University has more than 300 student organizations registered with its Student Involvement department. These organizations include Greek organizations, academic groups, honors societies, service groups, sports clubs, and common interest groups. Texas State has more than 30 fraternities and sororities each of which is a member of one of four national Greek councils. These active Greek organizations are:

Interfraternity Council[68] National Pan-Hellenic Council[69] Panhellenic Council[70] Multicultural Greek Council[71]
The Bobcat Marching Band performs during halftime of a football game
The Bobcat Marching Band performs during halftime of a football game

The Bobcat Marching Band is the collegiate marching band of Texas State University. Nicknamed "The Pride of the Hill Country," the band began in 1919 as a casual association of student musicians on campus. It later evolved into a formal organization that performs at Texas State football games, NFL football games, professional soccer games, two presidential inaugurations, and a number of Hollywood movies and marching band oriented videos.[72]

The school's student government is an organization of both undergraduate and graduate students who represent student's interests with the university administration. Student government has dealt with issues including concealed carry on campus[73] and the University's anti-tobacco policy.[74] Student Government also administers a scholarship fund that any Texas State student can apply to earn.[75]

Texas State Strutters
Texas State Strutters

A number of honors societies exists on campus including Golden Key[76] and the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society.[77] Texas State was a charter member of Alpha Chi when it was created as the Scholarship Societies of the South in 1927.[7]:47 Texas State also has an active chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, National Service Fraternity.

The Texas State Strutters are a precision dance team formed in 1960, the first of its kind at a four-year institution in the United States.[78] The group performs to a variety of music including high kick, jazz, funk, and hip hop.[79] The Strutters have performed nationally and internationally in 26 countries spanning 4 continents.[80] Performances include two presidential inaugural parades, two Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parades, several NBA and NFL halftime shows, and America's Got Talent.[81][82] They are the first university dance team to be invited to the People's Republic of China.

Bobcat Build is a yearly community service event that began in 2001 and is the largest such event run by students at the university.[83] Based upon Texas A&M University's "The Big Event", it allows student organizations and individual Texas State students to sign up to perform service projects throughout the San Marcos community.[84] The event has received recognition from state and national politicians including former State Representative Patrick Rose[85] and U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett.[86]


The oldest form of student media at Texas State was a yearbook originally called the Pedagogue and later renamed the Pedagog. It was first published in 1904 and served to record each year's events through photographs and articles. It was temporarily discontinued in 1975 due to a combination of the cost to publish the annual and a lack of student interest. It was published again in 1978 as part of the school's seventy-fifth anniversary. In 1984 it resumed regular publication. However, it was last published in 2000 after university committees recommended replacing the printed yearbook with a video disk containing the same contents.[87] The annual has since been discontinued entirely. Now called the University Star, it publishes coverage of the college's news, trends, opinions and sports. The newspaper is published on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays while classes are in session in the fall and spring semesters.[88] The paper is published five times during the summer. The Star has a web site which contains videos, blogs and podcasts in addition to the articles that are published in the print version of the paper. The Star and its staff have received awards including merits from Hearst Journalism,[89] the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association[90] and the Society of Professional Journalists.[91]

Located in Old Main, Texas State's FM radio station, KTSW, broadcasts at 89.9 MHz and provides sports coverage of Texas State Athletics and independent music. The KTSW website provides live-streaming broadcasts, and the Texas State television channel employs KTSW broadcasts as background music. KTSW's morning show, Orange Juice and Biscuits, gained recognition in 2007 for being a finalist in Collegiate Broadcasters Inc.'s "Best Regularly Scheduled Program" award. In October 2008, as it was among Austin360.com's top ten-rated morning radio shows.[92]


Main article: Texas State Bobcats

Texas State currently competes at the NCAA Division I level and are members of the Sunbelt Conference. Texas State teams and athletes from multiple sports have won national and regional championships as well as medalists in the Olympic Games.[93]

Mascot and logo

In 1920, Texas State adopted its first official mascot, the bobcat, at the urging of Oscar Strahan, who became the school's athletic director in 1919. Strahan suggested the bobcat because the cat is native to central Texas and is known for its ferocity. The bobcat did not get a name until 1964. At that time, Beth Greenlees won the Name the Bobcat contest with the name Boko the Bobcat.[94] The athletic logo, or spirit mark, is referred to as the SuperCat logo.[95] The current version of the logo was designed by a student in 2003.[96] In August 2009, Texas State refined the logo with the addition of the Texas State lettering.[97][98]


A thirteen-year rivalry with Nicholls State University ended with the 2011 football season. It began in 1998 when the annual football game between the two schools was at first cancelled due to severe flooding in San Marcos, where the game was to be played. The athletic directors and coaches later decided to postpone the game from October to November. To remember those affected by the floods, including some people who had died in it, a wooden oar was made with each school's colors and initials. The winning school would take possession of the oar for the next year and have the score inscribed on it. This rivalry became known as the Battle for the Paddle. The oar was last traded in 2010 when Nicholls State received it following 47-44 win over Texas State after four overtimes. Prior to the schools' meeting in 2011, Rob Bernardi, the Athletic Director for Nicholls State, said that they would not be bringing the oar to San Marcos and would leave it on display in the Nicholls State athletic offices. Due to Texas State changing conferences, Bernardi said it was unlikely that the schools will face each other in football again and that the rivalry was ending.[99][100][101]

The rivalry with the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is dubbed the I-35 Rivalry for the interstate highway that links San Marcos and San Antonio. A trophy consisting of an Interstate Highway 35 sign was originally given to the winner of the men's basketball game, but that tradition has been expanded to all sporting events between the two schools.[102][103] Even though the two schools will be moving to different athletic conferences in 2013, Texas State Athletics Director Larry Ties expressed hope that the potential rivalry will still occur.[104]

Texas State only in-state Sun Belt conference rival is the University of Texas at Arlington (UT Arlington). The rivalry was renewed in 2013 when both universities first entered the conference.[105]

Bobcat Stadium, West Side Complex
Fields West Side Complex at Bobcat Stadium completed in 2009

Transition to FBS

In the summer of 2007, University President Denise Trauth created the Athletic Strategic Planning Committee with the purpose of evaluating a move for the football team to go to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The committee released its final report in November 2007 which included a series of tasks that would need to be completed to make the move. The university called its efforts The Drive to FBS.[106] Following the release of the committee's report, the university's Associated Student Government passed a bill for a student referendum to be held the following spring to obtain the student body's endorsement of an increase in fees to help pay for the move to the FBS.[107] In February 2008, almost 80% of the students who voted in the referendum, approved a raise in the athletics fee by $10 over the next five years.[108] Another set of milestones for The Drive involved improvements to Texas State's football stadium, Bobcat Stadium. Three phases of construction were completed to double the seating capacity of the stadium to almost 30,000, add luxury boxes, improvements to the press box, and replace the visitors' locker room.[109][110]


Texas State University's most notable alumnus is U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson attended the university, then known as the Southwest Texas State Teachers College, from 1927 until 1930 when he earned his Bachelor of Science degree. As a student, Johnson participated on the debate team and was an editor for the student newspaper, then known as the College Star.[111][112] As of the 2016 elections, Johnson remains the only U.S. President who graduated from a university in the state of Texas.[113]

Another notable alum is Grammy Award-winning American country music singer George Strait. Strait graduated in 1979 from the university, then known as Southwest Texas State University, with a Bachelor of Science in agriculture. As a student, Strait performed his first show with the Ace in the Hole Band. In 2006, Strait was given an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by University President Denise Trauth.[114][115]

Other notable alumni include: General Robert L. Rutherford, United States Air Force; writer and Academy Award nominee Kim Krizan;Texas Country singer Randy Rogers of the Randy Rogers Band;Texas Country Singer Troy Wayne Delco of THE BEAUMONTS; ATP Oil and Gas Chairman and Chief Executive Officer T. Paul Bulmahn; musician Scott H. Biram; actor Powers Boothe;[116] writer Tomás Rivera;[117] Texas State Representative Alfred P.C. Petsch; columnist "Heloise" (Ponce Cruse Evans);[118] and mathematician and former president of the American Mathematical Society R. H. Bing, and Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.


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