When John Tarleton donated his land and life savings in 1899 to support a small college in Stephenville, no one would have guessed it would turn into a thriving institution of higher education 116 years later.
It’s no question that TSU impacts the Stephenville community, but to what extent?
A year-round resident of the city will notice when TSU students arrive for the fall and spring semesters. As the spring semester comes to an end and students return home for the summer, Stephenville's population decreases dramatically.
Tarleton has enjoyed a growth of 36% since 2009, bringing the total enrollment to 11,681 in 2014. Stephenville hosted 8,627 of these students in the fall of 2014 and 7,462 in the spring of 2015. An estimated 2,210 students are currently enrolled in summer courses at the local campus.
“Not a lot of the students are local, in the sense that they grew up in Stephenville,” said assistant vice president of marketing and communications for TSU, Harry Battson.
Without TSU, Stephenville boasts a population of 17,123, according to suburbanstats.org. With a population only twice as much as the students it hosts, the community is greatly impacted by the university.
“There’s a lot of benefits that the students and university bring,” Battson said.
In the fiscal year 2012-13 Tarleton had an economic impact in added income for the regional economy of $511.6 million, which was equivalent to creating 6,350 jobs.
“It continues to go up every year. It’s a major employer of the community. We have a major economic impact that not only supports businesses in the community, we also have students and student organizations that help make the community better,” Battson said. “Those are student-led organizations and they want to make a difference. We’re interested in working with the community to make things as good as possible.”