BACK IN 1965, Arlington State College (ASC) — now the University of Texas at Arlington — decided to withdraw from the Texas A&M College (now University) System.
Arlington State and Tarleton State College had been branch colleges of Texas A&M College since 1917. When the Texas A&M System was created in 1949, the colleges became a part of the System, having a president as its CEO rather than a dean.
Arlington State had become a four-year, state supported college in 1959, graduating its first class in 1961 – two years ahead of Tarleton State College. ASC felt it was not receiving its “fair share” of the Permanent University Fund (PUF) money from the System and desired to make a change to the University of Texas System.
At that time Arlington State was about the same size as Texas A&M College in College Station. This was prior to Texas A&M becoming a coed college. Four colleges comprised the Texas A&M System in 1965—Texas A&M College, Prairie View A&M College, Tarleton State and Arlington State.
The 1965 state legislature gave ASC the “green light,” and the change became effective September 1, 1965. None of the colleges in the Texas A&M System “cried” when ASC abandoned the “A&M Ship.” Actually they were pleased since the “money pie” would now be sliced in three parts rather than four.
Shortly afterwards, a meeting of the three remaining colleges was held at Prairie View. Board members and administrators from the three colleges were present.
Attending from Tarleton State were E.J. Howell, President; Paul Cunyus, Dean of Instruction; Gerald Fanning, Business Manager; and Ye Old Columnist (YOC), Dean of Student Personnel Services.
An idea was “tossed out” proposing to change the names of each college in the system to have “Texas A&M” in its official name. Since Texas A&M at College Station already had Texas A&M in its name, no change was necessary for the College Station campus.
Prairie View would become “Texas A&M College at Prairie View and Tarleton would become Texas A&M at Stephenville. President Howell said he did not mind the name change except he thought the name should include Tarleton, since the school was founded by John Tarleton.
Howell’s suggestion seemed to suit the attending Board Members. Thus if the name changes occurred, Tarleton would become “Texas A&M College at Tarleton.”
The changes never occurred, and the names stayed the same until University status came about years later.
Perhaps the most significant statement to come out of the meeting was said by Dr. E. B. Evans, long-time president of Prairie View. Dr. Evans, a veterinarian, served as the CEO at Prairie View from the 1940s until his retirement in 1966.
Dr. Evans made this statement, and it grabbed the attention of everyone in attendance. He said, “Prairie View doesn’t mind what the name might be — just as long as we are under the A&M umbrella.”
Laughter erupted; however, Dr. Evans’ statement held substance.
’TIL NEXT TIME – “One crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name.” – Thomas Osbert Mordaunt (1730-1809), British Army officer and poet.
Dr. Stuart Chilton, a retired educator/journalist, lives in Stephenville.