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LANDMARKS - Educational Institutions

Rice University

Rice UniversityRice University was founded by William Marsh Rice in 1891 and was originally named The William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Letters, Science, and Art.

Before the Rice Institute could be opened, there were challenges to be endured. William Marsh Rice, 84 and living alone in New York, was poisoned by his valet in 1900. On discovery that Rice's will had been changed to leave the bulk of his estate to a lawyer "friend," Albert T. Patrick, Mr. Rice's lawyers and the New York district attorney uncovered evidence proving Patrick had conspired with Rice's valet to prepare the false will, leading to Patrick's murder conviction in 1901. Legal challenges to William Rice's will continued through 1904, when the Rice Institute finally received a $4.6 million (about $95 million in 2005 dollars) funding endowment. By the time the Institute opened in 1912, its endowment had grown to almost $10 million, the seventh largest university endowment in the country at the time.

Edgar Odell Lovett of Princeton was selected as the first president of the Rice Institute. Lovett undertook extensive research before formalizing plans for the new Institute, including visits to 78 institutions of higher learning across the world in 1908 and 1909. The cornerstone was laid for the first campus building, now Lovett Hall, in 1911. In 1912, course work began. Rice was unusual for that time in admitting both male and female students. The first class consisted of 48 men and 29 women. The student body voted to adopt an Honor System in 1916; Rice's first commencement exercises were held the same year.

In 1959, the Rice Institute Computer went online. 1960 saw Rice Institute formally renamed William Marsh Rice University. Rice acted as a temporary intermediary in the transfer of land between Humble Oil and Refining Company and NASA, for the creation of NASA's Manned Space Flight Center (now called Johnson Space Center) in 1962. President John F. Kennedy then made a speech at Rice Stadium announcing that the United States intended "to become the world's leading space-faring nation." The relationship of NASA with Rice University and the city of Houston has remained strong to the present day.

The original charter of Rice Institute dictated that the university admit and educate, tuition-free, "the white inhabitants of Houston, and the state of Texas." In 1963, the governing board of Rice University filed a lawsuit to allow Rice to modify its charter to admit students of all races and to charge tuition. They had explicitly not admitted African-Americans in the past. Rice won its case, and charged tuition for the first time in 1965. In the same year, Rice launched a $33 million (about $200 million in 2005 dollars) development campaign. $43 million (about $215 million in 2005 dollars) was raised by its conclusion in 1970. In 1974, two new schools were founded at Rice, the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management and the Shepherd School of Music. The Brown Foundation Challenge, a fund-raising program designed to encourage annual gifts, launched in 1976, ending in 1996 having raised $185 million (about $225 million in 2005 dollars). The Rice School of Social Sciences was founded in 1979.

The Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations was held at Rice in 1990. In 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy was created. In 1997, the Edyth Bates Old Grand Organ and Recital Hall and the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, renamed in 2005 for the late Nobel Prize winner and Rice professor Richard E. Smalley, were dedicated at Rice. In 1999, the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology was created. The Rice Owls baseball team was ranked #1 in the nation for the first time in that year (1999), holding the top spot for eight weeks. In 2003, the Owls won their first national championship in baseball, which was the first for the university in any team sport, beating Southwest Missouri State in the opening game and then the University of Texas and Stanford University twice each en route to the title.

Rice University is Houston's most architecturally distinguished place of learning. Spanish eclectic in style, the buildings are surrounded by formal gardens. The 300-acre landscaped campus, with red roofed buildings and courts surrounded by oak and cypress trees, is located in the South Main area. Modeled after the collegiate system of old English universities, Rice attracted a range of scholars, among them Julian Huxley, the noted biologist and evolution theorist, who taught at Rice in 1913. The original building, Lovett Hall (now the administration building), reflects old world charm in its Mediterranean lines. In the center of the Quadrangle, which Lovett Hall looks upon, is the statue of William Marsh Rice. Rice's ashes are buried at the base of the statue.

University of Houston

University of Houston The University of Houston is the largest university in the city, is built on 330 acres south of the Gulf Freeway. It began as Houston Junior College (HJC). On March 7, 1927, trustees of the Houston Independent School District Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution that authorized the founding and operating of a junior college. The junior college was operated and controlled by the Houston Independent School District (HISD).

Originally HJC was located in San Jacinto High School and offered only night courses. Its first session began March 7, 1927, with an enrollment of 232 students and 12 faculty. This session was primarily held to educate the future teachers of the junior college, and no freshmen were allowed to enroll. A more accurate date for the official opening of HJC is September 19, 1927, when enrollment was opened to all persons having completed the necessary educational requirements. The first president of HJC was Edison Ellsworth Oberholtzer, who was the dominant force in establishing the junior college.

The junior college became eligible to become a four-year institution in October 1933 when Governor Miriam A. Ferguson signed House Bill 194 into law. On April 30, 1934, HISD's Board of Education adopted a resolution to make the school a four-year institution, and Houston Junior College became the University of Houston.

The University of Houston campus in 1940 at its present location UH's first session as a four-year institution began June 4, 1934, at San Jacinto High School with an enrollment of 682. In 1934, the first campus of the University of Houston was established at the Second Baptist Church at Milam and McGowen. The next fall, the campus was moved to the South Main Baptist Church, on Main between Richmond and Eagle, where it stayed for the next five years.

A preliminary drawing of the Roy G. Cullen Memorial building by its architect in 1938In 1936, philanthropists Julius Settegast and Ben Taub donated 110 acres to the university for use as a permanent location. Two years later, Hugh Roy Cullen donated $335,000 for the first building to be built at the location. The Roy Gustav Cullen Building, was dedicated on June 4, 1939, and classes began the next day. The first full semester of classes began officially on Wednesday, September 20, 1939.

The next step was the creation of the University of Houston as an institution separate from HISD. On July 26, 1943, the Board of Education adopted a resolution establishing an Advisory Board of the University of Houston consisting of 15 members. On March 12, 1945, Senate Bill 207 was signed into law, removing the control of the University of Houston from HISD and placing it into the hands of 15 HISD-approved regents. In 1945, the university, which had grown too large and complex for the Houston school board to administer, became a private school. In March 1947, the regents authorized creation of a law school at the University referred to as Bates College of Law—later renamed to University of Houston Law Center. In 1949, a gift of $1.5 million from the M. D. Anderson Foundation for erection of a library building for UH. By 1950, the educational plant at UH consisted of 12 permanent buildings. Enrollment was more than 14,000 with a full-time faculty of more than 300.

In 1953, the university established KUHT, the first educational television station in the nation. During this period, however, the university as a private institution was facing financial troubles. Tuition failed to cover rising costs, and in turn, tuition increases caused a drop in enrollment. After a lengthy battle between supporters of the University of Houston, led by school president A.D. Bruce, and forces from state universities geared to block the change, Senate Bill 2 was passed on May 23, 1961, enabling the university to enter the state system in 1963.

In 1977, the University of Houston System was established, with the University of Houston named as its flagship university. The University of Houston was known as University of Houston–University Park from 1985 to 1988. This name change was an effort by the UH administration to give the flagship institution of the University of Houston System a distinctive name that would eliminate confusion with the other three UHS universities. While these three universities (UH–Downtown, UH–Clear Lake, and UH–Victoria) share the root name "University of Houston," they are essentially autonomous institutions, and they each have their own president.

Local Houston philanthropists have aided the growth of the university. The names of its schools and buildings--the Cullen School of Engineering, the Nina Cullinan Hall, the Hilton School of Hotel Management and the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library--indicate the sources of generous gifts. The eight story General Classroom Building stands in an ornamental sunken garden.

The University of Houston's downtown college is housed in the old Merchant and Manufactures Building (the M & M Building), designed by Giesecke and Harris. The ten story structure, dedicated in 1930, was patterned after a similar Chicago building of the 1920's.

Texas Southern University

Texas Southern  UnivesityIn February 1946, Heman Marion Sweatt, an African American man, applied to The University of Texas School of Law. He was denied admission because of his race, and subsequently filed suit. (See Sweatt v. Painter.) At the time, there was no “separate but equal” law school for African Americans, and the Texas trial court, instead of granting Sweatt a writ of mandamus, continued the case for six months allowing the state time to create a law school only for blacks. As a result, Texas Southern University was established under Senate Bill 140 by the Fiftieth Texas Legislature on March 3, 1947 as a state university to be located in Houston. Originally named Texas State University for Negroes, the school was established to serve African Americans in Texas and offer them fields of study comparable to that available to white Texans. The state took over the HISD-run Houston College for Negroes as a basis for the new university. At the time, Houston College had one permanent building, but, more importantly, an existing faculty, and students. The school was charged with teaching "pharmacy, dentistry, arts and sciences, journalism education, literature, law, medicine, and other professional courses," and further stipulated that "these courses shall be equivalent to those offered at other institutions of this type supported by the State of Texas."

Texas Southern University is located on 58 acres at Wheeler Street. The archives of the old Negro College for Men, which it succeeded, are in the vaults of the college library. Former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan is an alumna of the school.

St. Thomas University

On June 24, 1944, the bishop of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston, Christopher E. Byrne, entered into an agreement with the Houston based members of the Congregation of St. Basil to found a co-educational Roman Catholic university in Houston, Texas "as soon as practicable after the War, if possible by 1947."

St. Thomas University The Basilian Fathers had previously started several other secondary schools, as well as institutions of higher learning, throughout Texas in the early 20th Century, including St. Thomas High School, also located in Houston. The first classes at UST began on September 22, 1947 with 57 freshmen and 8 faculty members. UST graduated its first class on May 31, 1951.

The university is named after St. Thomas Aquinas. Originally consisting solely of the Link-Lee Mansion on the corner of Montrose and West Alabama, the university has expanded towards the South and West over the last 60 years, establishing itself as a notable landmark in Houston with over 15,000 graduates. The current expansion plan includes the acquisition and development of the majority of the land comprising 25 city blocks.

Houston Baptist University

Houston Baptist CollegeHouston Baptist University was created by action of the Baptist General Convention of Texas on November 15, 1960 culminating many years of work and study. The aim of the University founders was the establishment of a Christian University of the highest order in the city of Houston that stressed quality of life as well as quality of learning.

In 1952, the Union Baptist Association authorized a committee to study the possibility of locating a Baptist University in Houston. With the assistance and encouragement of the Education Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, the committee conducted a survey in 1955. Acting upon information obtained with the endorsement of the Education Commission, the Association approved the concept of establishing a new college. In 1956, the Executive Board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas approved a recommendation that Houston Baptists be given assurance that the Convention would support such a college when the College Committee of the Union Baptist Association had succeeded in acquiring both (1) a satisfactory site for a campus of at least one hundred acres, and (2) a minimum corpus of at least three million dollars. Of this sum, one and one-half million dollars would constitute a nucleus endowment fund; one and one-half million dollars would be designated for a physical plant. The Union Baptist Association accepted these conditions and endorsed the requirements set up by the state Baptist convention.

In 1957, a Houston land developer, Frank Sharp, offered to sell Union Baptist Association 390 acres in southwest Houston for the construction of a University. The Board of Governors of Rice University agreed to lend most of the money needed with the land as collateral. To complete the funding, twenty-five business men, since called "founders", pledged to be responsible for $10,000 each. Therefore, by 1958, a campus site of 196 acres was acquired in southwest Houston, and, in 1960, the initial financial goal of repaying the loan was reached as a result of a campaign among the churches. Much of the land was used to built many for-profit housing, much of which included the development that will later become the seeds for the Sharpstown community, and the Memorial-Herman southwest hospital, land that is still property of HBU.

In 1960, the Baptist General Convention of Texas in its annual session at Lubbock, Texas elected the first Board of Trustees. This board in session in Houston, Texas on November 15, 1960 approved and signed the University charter. The next day, this charter was ratified and recorded with the Secretary of State in Austin. The way was then cleared to select administrative officers, develop a suitable physical plant, and design an appropriate academic program. Dr. W. H. Hinton began service as the first President of the University on July 1, 1962.

The University opened in September 1963 with a freshman class of 193 students, a cluster of new buildings, and a teaching staff of thirty faculty. A new class was added each year until the University attained a four-year program in 1966-67. By then, the full- time faculty had grown to fifty-four members, serving an enrollment of approximately nine hundred undergraduate students.



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