Houston Colored Junior College (1927-1934)
On September 14, 1927, the Houston Public School Board agreed to fund the development of two junior colleges: one for whites and one for African-Americans. And so, with a loan from the Houston Public School Board of $2,800, the Colored Junior College was born in the summer of 1927 under the supervision of the Houston School District. The main provision of the authorization was that the college meet all instructional expenses from tuition fees collected from the students enrolling in the college. The initial enrollment for the first summer was 300. For the fall semester, the enrollment dropped to 88 students because many of the 300 enrolled during the summer semester were teachers who had to return to their jobs once the school year began.
The Colored Junior College was established to provide an opportunity for African-Americans to receive college training. The Junior College progressed so fast that by 1931, it became a member of the Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and was approved by the Southern Association of Colleges.
Houston College for Negroes (1934-1947)
In the summer of 1934, the Houston School Board changed the junior college to a four-year college and the name to Houston College for Negroes. In 1936, sixty-three individuals became members of the first graduating class. The college operated this way until the summer of 1943, when it formally added a graduate program. In the spring of 1945, the Houston Independent School District severed its relationship with Houston College for Negroes, and thereafter all management of the college was vested in a Separate Board of Regents.
The College continued to operate in Yates High School, but by 1946 it had grown to an enrollment of approximately 1,400 students and needed room to grow. A few years earlier, with the help of Hugh Roy Cullen, a local philanthropist, the college obtained a 53-acre piece of property in the Third Ward area of Houston. With support from two large donors, Mrs. T.M. Fairchild, in memory of her late husband, Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Dupree, and the African American community, the college raised enough money to construct its first building on the new campus. And so, in the fall of 1946, the college moved from Jack Yates High School to its first building, the new T.M. Fairchild Building, which still operates as an active building in the university's facilities inventory.
Texas State University for Negroes (1947-1951)
In February of 1946, Heman Marion Sweatt, an African American Houston mail carrier, applied to enroll in the law school at the University of Texas. Because Texas was one of the segregated states, Sweatt was denied admission and later filed a suit against the University of Texas and the State of Texas with the support of the NAACP. In response, believing the separate but equal doctrine would carry the day, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 140 on March 3, 1947, providing for the establishment of a Negro law school in Houston and the creation of a university to surround it. This bill was complemented by House Bill 788, which approved $2,000,000 to purchase a site near Houston to house this new college and support its operation. Texas law makers initially considered Prairie View A&M College as the location of this new Law School. However, on June 14, 1947, the decision was made to use the site of Houston College for Negroes, with its new campus at the center of a large and fast growing black population. Thus, a new law school for Negroes of Texas and Texas State University for Negroes was born.
Under the separate but equal concept, the intention of Senate Bill 140 and House Bill 788 was to create a new university for Negroes in Houston that would become the equivalent of the University of Texas in Austin.
Texas Southern University (1951-Present)
On June 1, 1951, the name of this new university for Negroes was changed from Texas State University for Negroes to Texas Southern University after students petitioned the state legislature to remove the phrase "for Negroes."
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 School of Communication; the Thurgood Marshall School of Law; the Jesse H. Jones School of Business; the Thomas Freeman Honors College; 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 approximately 1,000 faculty members and support personnel. More than 9,500 students, representing ethnically and culturally diverse backgrounds, are currently enrolled at the university.