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 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 9,500 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 is located in Killeen. On September 1, 2009, the system center became an independent university – Texas A&M University – Central Texas. Degree programs are also offered in Waco at the McLennan Community College University Center and at several locations within the Southwest Metroplex. In addition, the University offers programs at the Terrell School of Clinical Laboratory Sciences and the Hickman Properties/Camp Bowie Boulevard site in Fort Worth. 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 from 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 contribute meaningfully and responsibly to a global society.

Strategic Goals

Excel in Scholarship, Teaching and Learning

  • Facilitate innovative teaching
  • Develop additional professionally recognized programs
  • Increase professionally recognized scholarship
  • Support student engagement in research and creative activities

Expand our Horizons

  • Grow enrollment strategically
  • Increase faculty and staff to support continued enrollment growth
  • Develop a culture that values diversity and global awareness
  • Enhance internships, practicum experiences, and study away opportunities

Encourage Leadership, Service and Student Success

  • Increase service learning and leadership opportunities
  • Expand student opportunities to contribute meaningfully and responsibly to a global society through engagement activities.
  • Increase student retention and success.

Extend our Reach

  • Expand geographic impact
  • Enhance program visibility and access
  • Develop new and cultivate existing relationships and partnerships

Enrollment and Faculty

Over 9,500 students attend Tarleton State University. Students from approximately 219 Texas counties, 45 states, and 22 foreign countries comprise the student body. More than 280 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 17,000 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
  • Texas A&M University - Commerce
  • Tarleton State University
  • West Texas A&M University
  • 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

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
Dr. Richard Box (Chairman)Austin
Mr. Phil Adams (Vice Chairman)Bryan/College Station
Mr. Morris FosterBelton
Ms. Elaine MendozaSan Antonio
Ms. Judy MorganTexarkana
Mr. Jim SchwertnerAustin
Mr. Cliff ThomasVictoria
Mr. John D. WhiteThe Woodlands
Mr. James P. "Jim" WilsonSugar Land

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