Photo ID: Dr. Austin A. Lane, the 12th president of TSU, Georgia Provost, director,
TSU Community Awareness Program (CAP), and Melinda Spaulding, VP of University
By Georgia Provost
Wiley College Extension
On the night of September 11, 2025, as a slow rainfall, Professor Robert R. Davenport of Wiley College paced the floor of Trinity Methodist Church, then, located on Travis Street at Bell Avenue. He had answered the request of a group of Houston teachers to set up an extension class.
The teacher for the Wiley College Extension Class in Dallas, was Professor J.T. Fox, who was also, connected Wiley College. Mr. Fox was also assigned to direct the Extension Class in Houston. During the first year, 1925-1926, the Class met in “old Colored High School” located on San Felipe and Frederick Streets. San Felipe was later changed to West Dallas.
The early classes offered a very limited curriculum. These classes included “child psychology, French, rhetoric and composition, history and government. Mr. Fox taught education and economics, and Miss Augusta Emanuel taught the languages. The School Board placed Colored High School and its facilities at the disposal of the Extension School.
Throughout the first year of the Extension School, there was a growing demand on the part of Prairie View Alumni and others interested citizens to have the school affiliated with Prairie View College as well as Wiley College. This situation was met by both institutions agreeing to accept the credits in the Extension School. The growth of the enrollment was such that during the second year (1926-1927) the faculty personnel was increased, and new facility was secured-the new Jack Yates School on Elgin Street.
The immediate success of the Extension School proved conclusively that Dean Fox was peculiarly adapted for the work for which he was engaged. So well did the community support the school, and so great was the demand for larger facilities that a committee of citizens composed of Professors E.O. Smith, B.H. Watson, W.J. Smith, W.L. Davis J.T. Fox, Mrs. Helen Lafond, Miss M.E.B. Issac met with Professor L.T. Cunningham, the Assistant Superintendent of schools, early in 1927, to plan for the founding of the Colored Junior College.
Houston Colored Junior College
On September 14, 1927, the Houston Public School Board agreed to fund the development of two junior colleges, one for whites and one for Negroes. 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 Public School District. The main provisions 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 Negroes 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
In the summer of l934, 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 first graduating class on the new college. The college operated as a four year institution until the summer of l943 when the college formally added a graduate program. In the spring of 1945, the Houston Independent School District severed its relationship with Houston College for Negroes and, therefore, the management of the college was vested in a Separate Board of Regents.
By 1946, the College which until this time had operated in Jack Yates School, but grown to an enrollment of approximately 1,400 and, therefore, needed room to grow. A few years earlier the college with the help of Hugh Roy Cullen, a local philanthropist, 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.& Mrs. C.A. Dupree, and the Negro community, ($1.00 brick sale), the college raised enough money to construct its first building on the 53-acre campus. And so, in the fall of l946 the college moved from Jack Yates High School to its first building, the T.M. Fairchild Building which still operates as an active building in the University’s facilities inventory.
Texas State University for Negroes
In February of l946, Herman Marion Sweatt, a Negro 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, with support from the NAACP, filed a suit against the University of Texas and the State of Texas. In answer to the Sweatt lawsuit, and believing the separate but equal doctrine would carry the day, the Texas Legislature, on March 3, 1947, passed Senate Bill 140, providing for the establishment of a Negro law school in Houston and the creation of a university to surround the law school 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 first considered Prairie View A&M College for the location of this new Law School but on June 14, 1947, they decided 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 was born a new law school for Negroes of Texas and Texas State University for Negroes.
Under the separate but equal concept, Senate Bill 140 and House Bill 788 were intended to create a new university for Negroes in Houston that would become equivalent of the University of Texas in Austin.
Texas Southern University
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 School, the Pharmacy School, the vocational Division, and College of Arts and Sciences. Responding to the changing times, in l973, 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 Communication, and the Weekend Collage. This designation described what Texas Southern University was doing from its conception-embracing diversity.
Today, Texas Southern University offers bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral degree programs in the following academic college and schools; the College of Liberal Arts and Behavioral Sciences; the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; the College of Science, Technology and Engineering; 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 of 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 over 1,200 faculty members and support personnel. More than 10,200 students, representing ethnically and culturally diverse backgrounds, are currently enrolled at the University, with over 100+ student’s organizations. With an excellent radio station, KTSU 90.9FM and a recording studio, celebrating 45 years.
Texas Southern University is under the dynamite leadership of Dr. Austin A. Lane serving as the 12th president of Houston’s only HBCU, located at 3100 Cleburne.