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 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.

            From the time the final graduate crosses the platform at May commencement until classes begin in August, Tarleton’s abuzz with activity. There’s little time for a summer picnic here.

            From cheer camps to rocket competitions to concerts to summer graduation, we have a lot going on. If it’s not happening on the Stephenville campus, it’s taking place at one of Tarleton’s outreach centers—strategically located in Fort Worth, Waco and Midlothian—or some faraway destination.

            Happenings like participation in the Juneteenth Parade in Cowtown, ROTC summer training around the globe, and study abroad trips to places like Australia to learn about animal behavior or Scotland to look at criminal justice policies.

            Of course, there are plenty of summer classes here at home, too—1,347 spread across all Tarleton locations—with almost 5,000 students and 331 faculty participating. Some classes last 12 weeks and others eight or four. Seniors make up the bulk of summer enrollment, and approximately 400 students will get their diploma on Friday, Aug. 11, in Wisdom Gym.

            Some 150 students call Tarleton’s residential living centers on the Stephenville campus home for the summer, and the residence halls welcome hundreds more who come from out of town for everything from the annual Texas Farm Bureau Leadership Conference to the American Astronautical Society CanSat Competition. That means the Barry B. Thompson Student Center and the dining hall are a constant hub of activity.

            Thousands of regional youth flock to the Stephenville campus for all kinds of summer activities—everything from athletic camps led by Tarleton coaches to cheer competitions to band weeks—and community members satisfy their creative side and explore new career paths with continuing education courses through the university’s Center for Academic Outreach and Engagement.

Located in the Lamar Johanson Science Building, the planetarium is open by request through the summer, and there’s always research under way at the observatory on Hunewell Ranch or Tarleton’s Southwest Regional Diary Center on Hwy. 281.

            If you’re looking for entertainment, the Tarleton Alumni Association hosts a summer music series, and the Theatre at Tarleton and the Summer Studio put on a production in the Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center.

            The Texan marching band, The Sound and the Fury, strikes up next month for a full week of all-day practices, and the football team will put in a lot of long summer hours before taking on Delta State in the first game of the 2017 season.

            First-time freshmen and those with less than 12 transferable hours take a day of their summer to complete Texan Orientation prior to registering for fall classes, and then many head to a three-day Duck Camp to meet new friends and learn about Tarleton’s heritage and traditions. Named for my duck, Oscar P., the first camp for 2017 took place this month and two more are planned for August.

            For many universities, summer is quiet, but not at Tarleton. Providing a high-quality education year-round speaks to our commitment to truly meet student needs, and hosting camps and activities for area folks and those who may visit just once proves our gates are always open.