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 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.

You never know how long a dream will live or who’ll catch the vision and run with it.

Tonight, Tarleton Texan fans who’ve come to Stephenville for Family Weekend can take part in a special pregame event to see the dream for a better and bigger Memorial Stadium move “ever forward, ever onward.”     

Part of Tarleton’s ongoing centennial celebration as founding member of The Texas A&M University System, the event begins at 6:40 p.m. inside the stadium just before the Purple and White take on West Texas A&M at 7.

Dreamers and visionaries will come. Students and alumni. Faculty and staff. Longtime friends of the university and new acquaintances.

Together, they’ll belt out the university’s fight song—“On Ye Tarleton”—to the rousing music of The Sound & The Fury. President F. Dominic Dottavio, A&M System Chancellor John Sharp, special guests and Tarleton officials will participate in a unique groundbreaking. There’ll be some fireworks, too, and lots of Texas-style hat throwing, hand clapping and foot stomping.

When voice professor H.A. Schmidt penned the lyrics to “On Ye Tarleton” in 1920, he had no idea they’d be sung at such a momentous celebration or that they’d so aptly describe the longtime vision of an entire community to enhance the Texan fan experience.

They will, and they do.

The dream of a better stadium’s been the talk of the town since the last renovations were made almost 30 years ago. The vision for a tribute to honor the 179 Tarleton faculty, staff and students who died in World War II goes back a lot farther—to the 1940s—making the renovation and expansion of Memorial Stadium a nod to Tarleton’s rich past and a statement about its powerful future.

The original stadium opened in 1951, and major reconstruction took place in 1977, when today’s features were added.

When the current renovation and expansion is completed, the stadium will boast an improved press box, suites, entrances and ticket booths as well as premium seats with chair backs and enhanced concession facilities. Overall stadium seating increases from some 7,000 to more than 9,000, and west side stands will be converted for home fans.

State-of-the-art CoolPlay® turf was installed this summer, and track-and-field surfaces will get updates as part of the renovation.

The renovation and expansion should be completed for the first kickoff of 2018, with no significant impact to games for the Texans or the Stephenville High School Yellow Jackets this season.

The Texas A&M System Board of Regents approved $24 million in September 2015 for the project, and longtime Texas entrepreneur Mike A. Myers—a Tarleton Distinguished Alumnus—gave $2.4 million this past spring. Other Texan fans are following his lead, with additional donations earmarked for special features to add to the fan experience.

Looks like I started something when I endowed nearly $100,000 in 1895 to create a college for the students of Erath County and beyond.

A dream and a vision that continues “ever forward, ever onward.”