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University Overview

A Concise History of Texas Southern University

Texas Southern University, a special purpose institution for urban programming, has a history that dates back to 1927. The University’s earliest antecedents were characterized by a progression of institutional constructs: extension classes, a junior college, a four-year private institution, and, ultimately, a state-supported institution. The University’s status as an institution of higher learning came during the era of segregation when the State of Texas denied Heman Marion Sweatt, an African American, entrance into the University of Texas Law School. Consequently, on March 3, 1947, the Texas State Senate of the 50th Legislature passed Senate Bill 140 providing for the establishment of the institution, including a law school, to be located in Houston. This bill was complemented by House Bill 788, which called for the purchase of a 53-acre site to house the campus. Thus was born Texas State University for Negroes; its name changed on June 1, 1951 to Texas Southern University.

Designated as an institution of the “first class,” when the University opened its doors in September 1947, it had 2,300 students, two schools, one division and one college—the Law School, the Pharmacy School, the Vocational Division, and the College of Arts and Sciences. Responding to the changing times, in 1973, the 63rd Legislature designated Texas Southern University as a “special purpose” institution for urban programming. As a result, four more academic units were added—the College of Education, the School of Public Affairs, the School of Communications, and the Weekend College. This designation described what Texas Southern University was doing from its inception—embracing diversity.

Today, Texas Southern University offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs in the following academic colleges and schools: the College of Liberal Arts and Behavioral Sciences; the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; the College of Science and Technology; the College of Education; the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs; the Tavis Smiley School of Communication; the Thurgood Marshall School of Law; the Jesse H. Jones School of Business; the College of Continuing Education; and the Graduate School. Other programmatic emphases are found in the Center for Excellence in Urban Education, the Center for Transportation Training and Research, the Center on the Family, and a variety of special programs and projects. Currently, Texas Southern University is staffed by 980 faculty members and support personnel. More than 9,000 students, representing ethnically and culturally diverse backgrounds, are currently enrolled at the University.

About Texas Southern University

Texas Southern University, one of the nation’s largest HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), possesses an impressive array of educational programs, a diverse faculty, 80-plus student organizations, and an alumni network comprised of educators, entrepreneurs, public servants, lawyers, artists, and more, many of whom are change agents on the local, national and international stage. Nestled upon a sprawling 150-acre campus, Texas Southern University has served as a cornerstone for developing the greatest potential in leaders from various socio-economic, cultural, and racial backgrounds.

Texas Southern University is located in Houston, TX, the fourth largest city in the US, and one of the fastest-growing and forward-moving cities in the world. As a residents of this international city, Texas Southern students are privy to numerous opportunities and experiences, facts that led noted social forecaster Joel Kotkin to declare that Houston offers one of America’s most compelling models for urban greatness (according to his study entitled Opportunity Urbanism: An Emerging Paradigm for the 21st Century).

Texas Southern is located in the heart of the city, in Houston’s historic Third Ward, giving its students and faculty easy access to the Museum District, neighboring educational institutions (Houston Community College, the University of Houston, Rice University, and the University of St. Thomas), the Texas Medical Center, City Hall, downtown Houston, and all of the city’s major freeways.

More than 9,000 students, faculty, and staff comprise the University’s community, and like its curricula, the student body is characterized by diversity. While many of the undergraduate and graduate students enrolled are native Texans, the student and faculty population is represented by almost every state in the country, including the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, and by more than 50 nations. Texas Southern's international student population hails from such places as Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, China, Europe, Mexico, South Asia, and the West Indies.

Of the nine Texas Southern University schools and colleges, several have received national recognition for their outstanding performance. The Thurgood Marshall School of Law was named the most diverse law school in the nation three consecutive years by U.S. News and World Report. In addition, the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (COPHS) has historically produced over one third of all the African American pharmacists in the nation. Also, the majority of African-American teachers in the Houston Independent School District (HISD) as well as African-American lawyers in Houston are Texas Southern University graduates.

In addition, Texas Southern participates in numerous programs, partnerships and collaborations designed to not only strengthen the overall collegiate experience, but meet critical social needs. From the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Preparation Program (LSAMP) which increases the number of students receiving bachelor's degrees in critical STEM (science, mathematics, engineering, and technology) disciplines, to the NASA Research Center for Biotechnology and Environmental Health, and more, Texas Southern is home to many cutting-edge opportunities.

With one of the most diverse faculties in the nation; state-of-the-art facilities; extra-curricular activities led by the university’s legendary Debate Team and award-winning Ocean of Soul Marching Band; and exciting institutional standings, such as the United States Congress’s designation of Texas Southern University as a National Transportation Security Center of Excellence (NTSCE), one of only six nationwide, opportunities abound for students at TSU NOW!
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