Tarleton State University: An Overview

The Tarleton Heritage

Since its creation, Tarleton State University, a public coeducational institution, has provided a broad-based education. Established by a $100,000 bequest from John Tarleton, an Erath County pioneer, John Tarleton College opened in 1899 as a private preparatory school and college for the youth of the surrounding rural region. During the next decade, students could earn a baccalaureate degree. In 1908, declining enrollment and inadequate funding caused college officials to reorganize the institution to a two-year degree program. This revised curriculum emphasized a liberal arts education, while retaining the two-year preparatory division. Again in 1916, Tarleton experienced financial difficulties; consequently, the Texas Legislature in 1917 approved the college as a branch of Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College, which would later become The Texas A&M University System. John Tarleton Agricultural College, as renamed by the Legislature, retained the two-year degree as well as the preparatory program and specialized curricula in agriculture, home economics, and military science.

To meet the needs of a changing constituency, Tarleton has adjusted and enriched its curriculum since the 1920s. Accredited as a junior college by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1926, Tarleton gradually redeveloped a liberal arts education. Then in 1949, the Legislature changed the name of the school to Tarleton State College, and in 1953 the preparatory division was discontinued, reflecting the increased access to public schools throughout the state. By a 1959 act of the Texas Legislature, Tarleton once again became a four-year degree-granting institution, with the first class graduating in 1963. Accredited as a senior college in 1966, Tarleton initiated many new programs, including graduate courses in 1970. Because Tarleton offered a broad liberal arts education within undergraduate and graduate degrees, the Texas Legislature recognized the institution as a university in 1973, and changed the name officially to Tarleton State University. In 2003, a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership was initiated.

Over the past century, Tarleton has grown from a small private college into a thriving state university with over 12,000+ students. In 1999, Tarleton established the first university system center in Texas, providing public, upper-level academic programs for the citizens of central Texas. This entity was called the Tarleton University System Center – Central Texas and it was located in Killeen. On September 1, 2009, the system center became an independent university – Texas A&M University – Central Texas.

Degree programs are offered on the main campus in Stephenville, in Fort Worth at the new Fort Worth Building 1 located off the Chisholm Trail Parkway, at the Terrell School of Medical Laboratory Sciences in the Medical District, and at the Tarrant County College Trinity River Campus downtown. In addition, degree programs are offered in Waco at the McLennan Community College University Center, in Midlothian at the Navarro College - Midlothian Campus, at the RELLIS Academic Alliance in Bryan, and through our Global Campus Online. Additional sites include the Dora Lee Langdon Cultural and Educational Center in Granbury, and the W. K. Gordon Center for Industrial History of Texas, Museum and Gallery in Thurber. These locations have enabled Tarleton to meet diverse educational demands across the state. Throughout its first one hundred years, Tarleton has never lost the commitment to excellence that was the vision of its founder, John Tarleton.

Mission Statement

Tarleton State University provides an academically challenging education where learning is grounded in real-world experiences and effective teaching, research, scholarship and service. As a member of The Texas A&M University System, Tarleton is rich in history and tradition while being committed to student success and diversity. Tarleton strives to develop moral and ethical thinkers, scholars and leaders who demonstrate civility and integrity, while contributing meaningfully and responsibly to a global society.

Tarleton will be the premier student-focused university in Texas and beyond. We will transform generations by inspiring discovery, leadership and service through exceptional teaching and research in vibrant learning communities.
Core Values:
  • Integrity
  • Leadership
  • Tradition
  • Civility
  • Excellence
  • Service

Strategic Goals

Academic Innovation
  • Create and deliver an innovative and relevant program mix
  • Use innovative instructional delivery and learning environments to enhance the academic experience and promote student success
  • Create and deploy targeted academic support programs to promote student success
  • Enhance the academic profile of Tarleton
Student Transformation
  • Assure that students achieve their peak performance in all courses
  • Engage students academically, socially, physically and mentally to enhance the Tarleton experience
  • Prepare students for a global and multicultural world by developing strong habits of mind, body and spirit
Distinctive Engagement
  • Increase the university’s commitment to outreach, partnerships and community engagement
  • Engage faculty, staff, students, alumni and external stakeholders by communicating strategically and effectively across multiple platforms
  • Enhance the reputation of the university through distinctive academic and co-curricular programs
Exemplary Service
  • Develop a culture of exemplary service across campus
  • Develop and support efficient and effective service systems to ensure long term success
  • Implement a notable campus-wide sustainability initiative

Enrollment and Faculty

Over 11,600 students attend Tarleton State University. Students from approximately 220 Texas counties, 49 states, and 19 foreign countries comprise the student body. More than 350 full-time faculty members are devoted to academic excellence and the personal development of each student. The student-faculty ratio is 19:1.

The Campus

One of the most striking features of Tarleton State University is the spacious 170-acre campus located in the heart of Stephenville, a city of 19,320 people only 65 miles southwest of Fort Worth. Featuring malls, open space, and beautifully-landscaped grounds, the campus is dominated by majestic oak and pecan trees, which create a warm atmosphere for living and learning. The architectural integrity of aged red brick buildings is maintained campus wide. Tarleton is proud of its spacious classrooms, well-equipped laboratories, and extensive library collections. Other facilities include a multimedia foreign language laboratory, modern Fine Arts Center, and updated agricultural facilities.

An ongoing construction and modernization program ensures that Tarleton keeps abreast of new developments. The Barry B. Thompson Student Center, a 90,000-square-foot facility, is the hub for campus activity and is an integral part of the University’s educational environment. The Center offers a food court, bookstore, post office, conference and meeting facilities, study areas, and commuter lounge. Other recently completed buildings include a number of new residence halls. Tarleton’s science building features a planetarium plus state-of-the-art laboratory and classroom space for students to engage in study and research. The newest buildings on campus are the university dining hall, nursing building, dairy complex, and the sports recreational facility featuring an indoor walking track, climbing wall, and state of the art exercise equipment.

The Texas A&M University System

Academic institutions under the direction of the Board of Regents of The Texas A&M University System include:

  • Texas A&M University
  • Prairie View A&M University
  • Tarleton State University
  • Texas A&M University - Commerce
  • Texas A&M University - Kingsville
  • Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi
  • Texas A&M International University
  • Texas A&M University - Texarkana
  • Texas A&M University - Central Texas
  • Texas A&M University - San Antonio
  • West Texas A&M University

Other agencies and programs in The Texas A&M University System are:

  • Texas A&M Health Science Center
  • Texas AgriLife Research
  • Texas AgriLife Extension Service
  • Texas Engineering Experiment Station
  • Texas Engineering Extension Service
  • Texas Forest Service
  • Texas Transportation Institute
  • Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory

Board of Regents

Name Location
Mr. Charles W. Schwartz (Chairman) Houston
Ms. Elaine Mendoza (Vice Chairman) San Antonio
Mr. Phil Adams Bryan/College Station
Mr. Robert L. "Bob" Albritton Fort Worth
Mr. Anthony G. Buzbee Houston
Mr. Morris E. Foster Belton
Mr. Tim Leach Midland
Mr. William "Bill" Mahomes, Jr. Dallas
Mr. Cliff Thomas Victoria
Mr. Stephen F. Shuchart (Student Regent) Houston

Mr. John Sharp, Chancellor
The Texas A&M University System
A&M System Building, Suite 2043
200 Technology Way
College Station, Texas 77845-3424
(979) 458-6000
(979) 458-6044