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, boasting 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.

Tarleton alumni include astronauts, athletes, politicians, medical experts, entrepreneurs and celebrities. They conduct biomedical experiments in space, scale vertical cliffs to win U.S. military victories, play professional ball, star in movies and represent Texas at the nation’s capital.

Oh, the places they go.

Tarleton Texans have the intellect and determination to earn a university degree, but many are short on funds.

Like the young man who showed up with less than $100 in his pocket and most of what he owned in a cardboard suitcase. He became a star athlete on Tarleton’s football team, a coach, a U.S. Army hero revered on two continents, a respected state elected official and eventually chancellor of the Texas A&M University System.     

None of it would have happened without some financial help.

Making that help available in the form of scholarships is a Tarleton tradition, with the lion’s share of funding coming from alumni who donate to the Tarleton State University Foundation, Inc. (www.tarleton.edu/foundation).

The nonprofit foundation, created almost 40 years ago, provides financial assistance via earnings on endowed funds, gifts and property. It acts independently of the university and the A&M System solely for the benefit of Tarleton and students who otherwise might not earn a degree.

Thanks to the foundation’s creativity in putting to greater use a long-standing endowment—the James B. Gregory, Mary C. Gregory and Myrtle Nowlin Loan Fund—up to75 students will begin this coming fall semester with a $3,000 scholarship.

           

Originally established to provide short-term loans for tuition and books, the endowment now gives scholarships to high-achieving high school graduates invited to apply for early admission as well as continuing students.

To date, 24 of the 25 invited high school students have accepted Tarleton’s offer for this fall and one is pending. We anticipate another 50 scholarships will be awarded to students continuing their Tarleton education following next month’s priority deadline.

Converting the endowment into a scholarship fund eliminates the need for students to repay, and relieves the university of loan collections. Truth is, scholarships benefit students more than loans, making this a win-win for everyone.

James and Mary Gregory and Myrtle Nowlin were all Tarleton alumni. James met Mary at Tarleton, and the couple married in 1936. Myrtle, James’ sister, taught school in Comanche County and took summer classes at Tarleton, graduating in 1930.

Their donation is one of many that comprise the foundation’s investment portfolio, which includes charitable gift annuities and departmental support endowments.

In addition to scholarships, Tarleton relies on private support—like that from the Gregorys and Myrtle Nowlin—to fully develop academic and athletic programs, recruit students and faculty, and construct and update campus facilities.

Following the economic downturn of 2008-09, the foundation’s portfolio dropped below $10 million. Today, it’s a record $20 million.

Thanks to a sound investment footing and a committed board of 11 directors, private donations keep growing. That ensures the school’s ability to provide financial assistance to future Tarleton Texans, empowering them to achieve their academic dreams, and transforming them into leaders who will excel in their careers and improve communities.

Who knows the places they’ll go.