It’s impossible to know exactly what John Tarleton had in mind for the university bearing his name. His dream was to create an institution of higher education for students with modest means.
Today, that dream is a reality. Tarleton State University offers an affordable, high-quality education and boasts graduates whose accomplishments would leave its founder filled with pride.
This monthly column, by an anonymous university author, attempts to look at the institution’s progress, issues of our time, achievements and challenges through the eyes of John Tarleton.
It’s written from a dreamer’s point of view.
I’ve known some great leaders in my life. Men and women who sought out opportunities to serve and to give of themselves, their time, talent and money to make life better for others. True leaders are servants.
Tarleton Texans are learning to be true servant-leaders.
When “Texans Team Up” for a full week of serving and giving like they did earlier this month, the results are life changing. Lawns are mowed, windows cleaned, city property maintained, home repairs made. Students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff and friends give generously to university departments, programs and scholarships. Classroom learning becomes the impetus for lending a helping hand.
The entire week was beyond anything I ever dreamed.
It began with the 18th annual Tarleton Round Up on April 2, when more than 1,600 students, faculty and staff volunteered 6,400 hours to complete a record 155 projects. Some cleaned the Bosque River, others helped at a campus drop-off site for recyclables and hazardous materials and some rolled up their sleeves at Fosters Home for Children. The spirit of Round Up even expanded outside Stephenville to Tarleton’s outreach locations in Fort Worth, Waco and Midlothian.
During the week, students learned about philanthropy as a way to provide service to others; to pay it forward for future generations of Tarleton Texans who also will become generous philanthropists in their communities, churches and workplaces after graduation.
When all the donations were counted from the university’s first Day of Giving on April 5, even those who planned the event were astonished. Instead of 1,899 donors (celebrating the year Tarleton was founded), 2,472 kind and generous people gave nearly $150,000—all in a single day.
That’s impressive considering it took almost an entire lifetime for me to earn the nearly $100,000 that opened the gates to this great institution of higher learning.
Some gave a handful of change, while others wrote large checks. Regardless of the size of the gifts, those who gave did so with the Spirit of Tarleton. Special thanks to SSC Service Solutions, Wells Fargo, Texas Bank, Tarleton Ambassadors, Friends of the Library and Ms. Judith Meador for very generous contributions to the university.
Later in the week, Service Day opportunities, unlike Round Up projects, took on an academic focus as more than 3,600 students and 100 faculty and staff put in some 10,000 hours April 7 to complete 100-plus projects.
Appropriately referred to as learning experiences, these opportunities were part of efforts by Tarleton’s Center of Academic Outreach and Engagement (AOE) to build a culture of social responsibility by connecting academic programs with community needs.
Projects like helping out at Stephenville ISD, Texas Health, Stephenville Public Library and both the Erath and Tarrant County Food Banks moved students beyond the classroom, giving them the chance to use academic knowledge in true-to-life situations. I only can imagine the gratitude of those who received help and taught our students more about their chosen academic fields.
When the entire week was all said and done, a lot more was done than said. At an average of $24.66 per hour—as calculated by Independent Sector, the national coalition of nonprofits—Tarleton Texans contributed around $400,000 of assistance to make life better for others.
Makes me stand a little taller, and rest at ease knowing and dreaming of even greater success in 2017.