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.


Tarleton State University is a family. A close-knit family.

And our students’ parents are an integral part of it.

That’s why the Tarleton Parents Association works to strengthen the link between the university and families through communication, support, education and social engagement.

Created in 1989, the association began simply as a way to connect students and their parents to other Tarleton families.

It was great then. It’s better now.

Blossoming into a thriving, dynamic organization, the group provides a platform for communication among parents, administrators, faculty, staff and students, offering assistance when concerns arise.

Through campus activities and programs, the association enhances academic achievement and builds community. That’s important because no one succeeds alone. Instead, Tarleton Texans and those who support them are part of a community — a family — of friends, peers and mentors who push the students to excel.

Membership in the association has jumped from about 100 to more than 1,000, and the number grows every year. Dues are $50 annually or $150 for four years.

The association helps mom and dad understand what help to give and the best way to give it. Many Tarleton Texans are first-generation college students, their parents unfamiliar with university life. The association provides a window into the world of higher education to make their transition as smooth as possible.

Other parents have not attended college in years and are grateful for the community.

An online portal keeps parents informed of campus news and deadlines, financial information and student progress.

Scholarship is a key part of the association. Each year, the organization gives some 40 scholarships to Tarleton students whose families are members, and the group is working to create an endowment of $100,000 so it can award more. Recipients are recognized at a spring dinner.

During finals, association members make sure students receive a survival kit of snacks, pencils and test booklets.

Tailgates before football games are one of the group’s favorite activities. All parents are invited, and the gatherings are known for their fresh-cut fries and the camaraderie among families who come to Stephenville from Texas and beyond.

As a part of membership, families receive a T-shirt, auto decal and a discount card with deals on local hotels and restaurants.

In the future, the Tarleton Parents Association plans to distribute a member directory with contact information, so students and parents can reach out to each other.

Parents entrust their children to us, a responsibility we’ve taken seriously for almost 120 years. 

At Tarleton, we support families by building connections and communities.

It’s what families do.


Note: For more information on the Tarleton Parents Association, contact Lathes Towns, director of Student Involvement, Spirit and Traditions & Family Relations, at 254-968-9490 or