An analysis of the historical development of senior colleges and universities in West Texas: geography and vital forces

dc.creatorFisher, Don R
dc.description.abstractThe development of higher education in West Texas mirrored the state's experience with colleges and universities. For more than a century, Texas lacked a plan for development of higher education. Political considerations were paramount, and West Texas best characterized the state's bits-and-pieces development process. As they had done in the eastern part of the state during the decade of the Republic and the early years of statehood, Protestant church groups founded colleges in West Texas well in advance of state-supported institutions. Many of the early church-related colleges failed, but those which survived marshalled local support and became symbols of community solidarity and regional pride. The first publicly-funded college in West Texas, appropriately named West Texas State Normal, opened in Canyon in 1910. In the next fifteen years, three other state colleges were founded in West Texas: The School of Mines, Sul Ross State, and Texas Technological College. Boosters hailed Texas Tech as a people's college with a mandate to serve the young men and women of a dynamic region. The University of Texas and Texas ASM benefitted for years from the largess of the Permanent University Fund (PUF). However, until the advent in 1947 of the ad valorem tax fund, colleges in West Texas and other parts of the state had difficulty funding major construction projects. The ad valorem tax fund satisfied construction needs until its demise in 1982. Responding to requests from Texas Tech and other institutions, the voters in 1984 approved a constitutional amendment to establish a new dedicated fund and to distribute PUF benefits more evenly among UT and A&M system institutions. The geography of West Texas and the>people who settled there combined to produce vital forces which are clearly reflected in the colleges and universities of the region. This particular brand of regionalism sparks some internal competition but presents a united front in the face of apathy or neglect, real or perceived. The vital forces which emerged from the West Texas frontier experience made higher education with its abundant opportunities readily available to all the people of the region. Finally, this study deals with human behavior and how that behavior was and still is molded by both environmental and societal forces. The very size of Texas and its settlement patterns, the location of constitutionally established institutions, and the perspectives of many people all contributed to the development of a unique group of colleges and universities in West Texas.
dc.publisherTexas Tech Universityen_US
dc.subjectHigher -- Texasen_US
dc.subjectUniversities and colleges -- Texas -- Historyen_US
dc.titleAn analysis of the historical development of senior colleges and universities in West Texas: geography and vital forces