Texas Southern University

Not to be confused with Southern University or other members of the Southern University System in Louisiana
Texas Southern University
Former names
Houston Colored Junior College (1927–1934)
Houston College for Negroes (1934–1947)
Texas State University for Negroes (1947–1951)
Motto "Excellence in Achievement"
Type State university, HBCU
Established March 7, 1927
Endowment $48.7 million [1]
President Austin Lane
Provost James Ward
Administrative staff
Students 9,646
Location Houston, Texas, U.S.
29°43′20″N 95°21′40″W / 29.72222°N 95.36111°W / 29.72222; -95.36111Coordinates: 29°43′20″N 95°21′40″W / 29.72222°N 95.36111°W / 29.72222; -95.36111
Campus Urban, 150-acre (0.61 km2)
Colors Maroon and Gray[2]
Athletics NCAA Division I FCSSWAC
Nickname Tigers
Website www.tsu.edu

Texas Southern University (shortened to Texas Southern or simply TSU) is a historically black university (HBCU) located in Houston, Texas, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.[3] The University was established in 1927 as the Houston Colored Junior College. It developed through its private college phase as the four-year Houston Colored College. On March 3, 1947, the state declared this to be the first state university in Houston; it was renamed Texas State University for Negroes. In 1951, the name changed to Texas Southern University.

Texas Southern University is one of the largest and most comprehensive HBCUs in the nation.[4] TSU is one of only four independent public universities in Texas (those not affiliated with any of Texas' six public university systems) and the only HBCU in Texas recognized as one of America's Top Colleges by Forbes magazine.[5] TSU is the leading producer of college degrees to African Americans and Hispanics in Texas and ranks 4th in the United States in doctoral and professional degrees conferred to African Americans.[6] The university is a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Dr. Waldivia Ardlaw of Cite: The Architecture + Design Review of Houston wrote that the university serves as "the cultural and community center of" the Third Ward area where it is located, in addition to being its university.[7] Also, the university serves as a notable economic resource for Greater Houston, contributing over $500 million to the region's gross sales and being directly and indirectly responsible for over 3,000 jobs.[8]


On March 7, 1927 the Houston Independent School District school board resolved to establish junior colleges for each race, as the state was racially segregated in all public facilities. The resolution created Houston Junior College (later became the University of Houston) and Houston Colored Junior College. The Houston Colored Junior College first held classes at Jack Yates High School during the evenings. It later changed its name to Houston College for Negroes.

In February 1946, Heman Marion Sweatt, an African-American man, applied to the University of Texas School of Law. He was denied admission because of race, and subsequently filed suit in Sweatt v. Painter (1950). The state had no law school for African Americans. Instead of granting Sweatt a writ of mandamus to attend the University of Texas, the trial court granted a continuance for six months to allow the state time to create a law school for blacks.

As a result, the state founded Texas Southern University under Texas 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 those available to white Texans. The state took over the Houston Independent School District (HISD)-run Houston College for Negroes as a basis for the new university. At the time, Houston College moved to the present site (adjacent to the University of Houston), which was donated by Hugh Roy Cullen. It had one permanent building and an existing faculty and students. The new university was charged with teaching "pharmacy, dentistry, arts and sciences, journalism education, literature, law, medicine and other professional courses." The legislature stipulated that "these courses shall be equivalent to those offered at other institutions of this type supported by the State of Texas."

Given the differences in facilities and intangibles, such as the distance of the new school from Austin, the University of Texas School of Law, and other law students, the United States Supreme Court ruled the new facility did not satisfy "separate but equal" provisions.It ruled that African Americans must also be admitted to the University of Texas Law School at Austin. See Sweatt v. Painter (1950).

In March 1960, Texas Southern University students organized Houston's first sit-in at the Weingarten's lunch counter located at 4110 Almeda. The success of their efforts inspired more sit-ins throughout the city that within months led to the desegregation of many of Houston's public establishments.[9] Today, a historical marker commissioned by the Texas Historical Commission stands on the property of the first sit-in to commemorate the courageous acts of those TSU students. That property is now a U.S. Post Office. TSU journalism professor Serbino Sandifer-Walker worked for nearly two years with the Texas Historical Commission, the original students who led the march and many other stakeholders to have the historic marker designated on March 4, 2010, the fiftieth anniversary of that sit-in. [10]


Texas Southern University

The university today has more than 45 buildings on a 150-acre (0.61 km2) urban gated campus centrally located in Houston. The campus is only three miles southeast of Downtown Houston and six miles east of Uptown Houston.

The school's first structure was the Thornton B. Fairchild Building, built 1947-1948 and housing administration and classroom space. Temporary buildings served as faculty housing during that time.[7] The Mack H. Hannah hall, designed by Lamar Q. Cato and opened in 1950, was the second building. In the late 1950s many more buildings opened, including classroom, dormitory, and student union facilities.[11]

University Museum

Opened in 2000, the 11,000-square-foot (1,000 m2) exhibition space displays a variety of historical and contemporary art. The museum is the permanent home of the Web of Life, a twenty-six-foot mural masterpiece by world-renowned artist Dr. John T. Biggers,[12] founding chairman of the TSU art department.[13]

Leonard H.O. Spearman Technology building

In 2014, TSU unveiled the $31 million 108,000-square-foot, four-story structure named after the school's fifth president. In addition to having 35 state-of-the-art labs, the facility is home to a new Tier 1 University Transportation Center, the Center for Transportation Training and Research, and the new National Science Foundation Center for Research on Complex Networks. The departments of Engineering, Transportation Studies, Computer Science, Industrial Technology, Physics, and Aviation Science and Technology academic programs are housed in the building.[14] TSU is the only four-year state supported university in Texas to offer a Pilot Ground School course and the first HBCU to implement a Maritime Transportation degree program.[15][16]

Jesse H. Jones School of Business

Jesse H. Jones (JHJ) School of Business is located in a three-story, 76,000 square-foot building completed in 1998 and accommodates approximately 1,600 students in undergraduate and graduate studies. The Jesse H. Jones School of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)[17] and been named one of the "Best Business Schools" by the Princeton Review.[18] JHJ School of Business is consistently one of the highest ranked business schools from a public HBCU in the US News and World Report rankings.[19]

The Jesse H. Jones School of Business currently offers bachelor's degree majors in Accounting, Finance, Management, Management Information Systems, and Marketing with master's degree majors in Masters of Business Administration (MBA), Masters in Management Information Systems, and Executive Masters of Business Administration (eMBA). Its eMBA program was ranked 5th in the United States by Business MBA.[20]

College of Education

The College of Education building consists of the Department of Counseling, the Department of Curriculm and Instruction, the Department of Educational Administration & Foundations, and the Department of Health and Kinesiology. The College has an enrollment of approximately 1,000 in undergraduate and graduate studies.[21] In 2014, the National Council on Teacher Quality ranked TSU's College of Education 56th in the nation for best secondary education programs and gave the college a "top-ranked" distinction.[22]

Barbara Jordan–Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs

An extensive set of curricular offerings is provided through the Barbara Jordan - Mickey Leland School Of Public Affairs, which offers courses in Administration of Justice (AJ), Political Science (POLS), Public Affairs (PA), Military Science (MSCI), and Urban Planning & Environmental Policy (UPEP) on the undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral level. The school sits in a 82,000-square-foot facility completed in 2008. Sociologist Robert D. Bullard currently is Dean of the school.[23]

School of Science and Technology

The School of Science and Technology building is home to several scholastic programs, such as the Houston Louis Stokes Alliance Minority Program (H-LSAMP) and the Thomas Freeman Honors College. It also houses several research programs, such as the NASA University Research Center for Bio-Nanotechnology and Environmental Research (NASA URC C-BER), Maritime Transportation Studies and Research, as well as the STEM research program.TSU’s NASA University Research Center (C-BER) addresses human health concerns related to manned exploration of space. Programs such as TSU’s NASA University Research Center (C-BER) and participation in The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Preparation Program (LSAMP) support undergraduate, graduate and faculty development while helping to increase the number of US citizens receiving degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.[24] The school offers the only doctoral degree in environmental toxicology in Southeast Texas.[25]

Spurgeon N. Gray Hall (COPHS)

The College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (COPHS) is housed in the Spurgeon N. Gray Hall. COPHS has approximately 800 students and ranked 80th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. COPHS has the distinction of being one of the nation’s leading producers of minority health professionals. For the past half‑century, the College has produced nearly one‑third of the Black pharmacists practicing nationwide. TSU has also been a leading producer of Black medical technologists and respiratory therapists.[26] TSU is one of only two public HBCUs in the nation with an accredited and comprehensive pharmacy program.[27]

Thurgood Marshall School of Law

The Thurgood Marshall School of Law (TMSL) is one of only four public law schools in Texas and ranks as one of the most diverse law schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.[28] TMSL is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) and a member-school of The Association of American Law Schools (AALS).[29] Enrollment is at approximately 600 students.

Sterling Student Life Center

The Ernest S. Sterling Student Life Center (SSLC) is the nucleus of campus life at TSU. It provides cultural, social, recreational, educational and religious programs and services for students, faculty, staff, alumni and guests, as it creates constructive leisure and educational activities. The Student Center is home to the TSU Bookstore, TSU Cheerleaders, Bowling Alley, Game Room, Student Government Association (SGA), University Program Council (UPC), Herald Newspaper, Tiger Yearbook, Cafeteria, Office of Campus Organizations, Student Activities, Administrative Offices and Office of Events.[30]

Granville M. Sawyer Auditorium

Recently renovated, the Sawyer Auditorium is Texas Southern University’s historical landmark. Sawyer Auditorium features split level seating for up to 1,800 guests for hosting university sponsored events. It also has an adjacent drama playhouse.[31]

Newman Hall

Constructed in 1969, Newman Hall houses the Texas Southern University campus ministry, blending three activity areas. The worship, library and social functions all revolve around a central, sky-lit interior. Flexibility of interior use is achieved with moveable furniture and rolling barn doors.

Tiger Walk

The Tiger Walk is the maroon and gray paved central street on campus where most of TSU outdoor social activities are held and a popular spot for students to relax or socialize.

Residential facilities

The school has apartments and residence halls.[32]

Athletic facilities


Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) operates public transportation services, including buses and the METRORail tram service, which serve the university. The METRORail Purple Line station serving the university is Robertson Stadium/UH/TSU station.


University rankings
Forbes[34] 649
Washington Monthly[35] 201

Texas Southern University offers over 80 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. The university is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a "Doctoral university with moderate research activity"[36] and currently comprises 11 schools and colleges along with several scholastic and research programs. The Thomas F. Freeman Honors College was established to further cultivate high-achieving undergraduate students of all majors in their academic and leadership endeavours.


Texas Southern University annually receives over 10,000 applications and only offer admissions to approximately 50% of applicants.[40]


Texas Southern University's main library is the Robert J. Terry (RJT) Library. The Brown Foundation re-invested in TSU with a two-year $1.2 million commitment to the Robert J. Terry Library to improve its Urban Learning Center. The Urban Learning Center is an integral part of a new era of initiatives at Texas Southern and will provide critical support to the currently planned Academic Village. The new improvements will enhance the ability of the RJT Library to address the literary and academic needs of TSU students. The RJT library is home to an African Art Gallery, The Heartman Collection, and many types of valuable archives.[41]

The Thurgood Marshall School of Law building also houses an extensive library.


As of 2015, the student body is 76% African-American, 9% Hispanic, 7% International, 3% White, and 5% Other. The top three state origins of U.S. students following Texas are California, Louisiana, and Georgia. And the top three country origins of international students are Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and China. The student body is 42% male and 58% female. The student-to-faculty ratio is 19 to 1.[42][43]

Student activities

TSU Alma Mater[44]

The air is filled as our voices ring
From earth to the heav’ns above.
With voices raised; we’re singing praise,
To the school we dearly love.
Hail, Hail, Hail! to Texas South-ern
Hail, to our dear Maroon and Gray
Undivided we will stand
By the greatest in the land,
T-S-U, T-S-U, we love you.
All roads lead to Texas South-ern,
Paved with light for one and all.
T-S-U’s a shining star
And we’re proud of what you are,
T-S-U, T-S-U, we love you.
Hail, Hail, Hail! To Texas South-ern
Hail to our Chiefs in reverence we sing.
In our hearts you’ll always stay
As you lead us on our way,
T-S-U, T-S-U, we love you.

Words and Music by C.A. Tolbert


There are several traditions established on the campus of Texas Southern University. The most well-known ones are Labor Day Classic festivities, homecoming week, TSU founding day celebration, Springfest week, and the TSU Shuffle (line dance).

Debate Team

Texas Southern University's internationally acclaimed debate team has won hundreds of national and international debate competitions since its inception. The debate team was founded by professor emeritus and coach Dr. Thomas Freeman in 1949. Dr. Freeman has led the team for over 60 years and is credited for training notable leaders such as former U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Jordan and civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. while serving as a visiting professor at Morehouse College.[45][46]

Marching Band (Ocean of Soul)

Texas Southern's marching band the Ocean of Soul has won numerous awards and performed at Super Bowls,[47] The Stellar Awards,[48] various parades, NBA and Houston Texans games. The 200+ member band alumni include Grammy award-winning jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum. The Ocean of Soul is complemented by The Motion of The Ocean, a female dance team that has been featured on America's Best Dance Crew.


Main article: Texas Southern Tigers

Texas Southern sports teams participate in NCAA Division I (Championship Subdivision for football) in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Texas Southern is part of the Western Division in SWAC divisional sports.

Men's varsity sports include baseball, basketball, football, golf, and track and field. Women's varsity sports include basketball, bowling, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, track and field, and volleyball.[49]

Texas Southern most well-known rivals are Prairie View A&M, Southern, Grambling State, and Jackson State.

Tiger and Lady Tiger basketball

Tiger football

KTSU 90.9 FM

Main article: KTSU

In addition to serving as a training unit for TSU students, the station was also established to serve the University at the program level as well as the community by presenting various types of TSU athletics, educational, cultural and social programs to a primarily listening area within a 10-mile (16 km) radius of the University. A 1973 survey indicated that radio was generally the preferred source of information of African-Americans, particularly those with less than a high school education. By the late 1970s, the station had secured an ample audience and programming increased in scope. At the same time, the station increased its power range from 10 watts to 18,500 watts. According to the Arbitron Rating Service (ARS), KTSU has an audience of 244,700 listeners and is number one over all of Houston/Galveston stations for its Sunday format and its Friday format of Golden Oldies.[50]

Notable TSU alumni

Name Class year Notability References
Michael Strahan 1993 Former NFL defensive end for the New York Giants, Super Bowl Champion, Pro Football Hall of Fame and Black College Football Hall of Fame inductee. Currently a football analyst on Fox NFL Sunday, actor, author, co-host of Live! with Kelly and Michael and Good Morning America. [51]
Yolanda Adams 1983 American Grammy, Dove-award winning Gospel music singer, radio show host, author, actress, judge on BET's Sunday Best and former elementary school teacher. She has sold over 8 million albums since 1991 according to Soundscan [52]
Kenneth M. Hoyt 1969 and 1972 Nominated by President Ronald Reagan to a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. He was the second African-American to serve as federal judge in Texas. He took senior status in 2013.
Ernie Holmes 1971 Former NFL defensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, original member of the famed Steel Curtain defensive line, two-time Super Bowl Champion
Jennifer Holiday Tony, American Grammy-award winning entertainer and well-known cast member of Dreamgirls
Hon. Barbara Charline Jordan 1956 Congresswoman in the United States House of Representatives from Texas from 1973 to 1979 [53]
Mickey Leland 1970 Anti-poverty activist and later a congressman from the Texas 18th District and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus .[54]
Tray Walker 2015 Baltimore Ravens cornerback
Roberto R. Alonzo 1984 Texas State Representative from District 104 (Dallas) [55]
Barbara Mallory Caraway 1978 Former Member of the Texas House of Representatives from District 110 (Dallas)
Dwaine Caraway Former Mayor Pro Tem of Dallas and current District 4 (Dallas) council member
Ruth McClendon African-American Democrat member of the Texas House of Representatives from San Antonio since 1996; former member of the San Antonio City Council and Mayor Pro Tem from 1993 to 1996; former juvenile probation officer [56]
Gilbert Pena 1996 2015 Hispanic Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives from District 144 in Pasadena; graduated in Political Science at the age of forty-seven [57]
Morris Overstreet 1975 First African-American to be elected to statewide office in Texas. He served on the state's highest appellate court from 1990 to 1998
Leslie D. King 1973 Mississippi Supreme Court Justice
Kirk Whalum Grammy Award-winning jazz saxophonist
Kase Lukman Lawal 1976 Chairman and CEO of CAMAC International Corporation and chairman of Allied Energy Corporation in Houston, Texas, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, CAMAC HOLDINGS;[1] vice chairman, Port of Houston Authority Commission
Rodney Ellis 1975 Member of the Texas Senate, District 13 (Houston)
Sylvia Garcia 1978 Member of the Texas Senate, District 6 (Houston)
Harry E. Johnson Current President of the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc [58]
Jarvis Johnson Member of the Houston City Council from the B District
Tony Wyllie Senior Vice President for the Washington Redskins. He has previously worked as an Assistant Director of Public Relations for the St. Louis Rams, the Director of Public Relations for the Tennessee Titans, and Vice President of Communications for the Houston Texans
Ron Reynolds Member of the Texas House of Representatives from District 27 since 2011; lawyer in Missouri City [59]
Senfronia Thompson Member of the Texas House of Representatives from the 141st district (Houston)
Lloyd C. A. Wells Sports photographer and civil rights activist on the behalf of black athletes
Robert Taylor Winner of gold medal in 4x100 m relay at the 1972 Summer Olympics
Greg Briggs 1991 Former NFL defensive back
Ken Burrough 1970 Former NFL wide receiver
Joseph Anderson 2011 Current NFL wide receiver
Brett Maxie 1985 Former NFL defensive back and current NFL assistant coach
Lloyd Mumphord 1969 Former NFL defensive back
Warren Wells 1969 Former NFL wide receiver
Julius Adams 1971 Former NFL defensive lineman ju
Arthur Cox Former NFL tight end
Donald Narcisse Former Canadian Football League wide receiver. CFL Hall of Fame inductee, 2010
Markus Howell Former CFL wide receiver and current CFL Assistant Coach
Cortez Hankton 2002 Former NFL wide receiver and current assistant football coach at Dartmouth College [60]
Oliver Celestin 2002 Former NFL defensive back [61]
Warren Bone Former NFL player [62]
Wilton Felder Saxophonist and bass player (a founding member of The Crusaders) [63]
Belvin Perry 1977 Chief Judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit in Orlando, Florida and was involved in the Casey Anthony trial. [64]
Ronald C. Green 1996 Current City Controller of Houston and a former member of the Houston City Council [65]
Jim Hines 1968 2 Gold medals at 1968 Olympics, First sprinter to officially break the 10-second barrier in the 100 meters, and former NFL player [66]
Allen Lyday 1970 Former NFL defensive back

Notable faculty

Name Department Notability Reference
Matthew Knowles Communications Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Solange Knowles father, founder of Music World Entertainment, former manager for the members of Destiny's Child and Solange, and adjunct instructor in the School of Communication and Jesse H. Jones School of Business. [67]
Dr. Merline Pitre History The nationally noted historian has published several scholarly articles and books on the African American experience in Texas. She received her Ph.D. degree from Temple University. Her most noted works are Through Many Dangers, Toils and Snares: The Black Leadership of Texas, 1868 to 1898 (a book which was reissued in 1997 and used in a traveling exhibit on black legislators by the State Preservation Board in 1998). She also wrote the highly regarded book on a Texas female icon. In Struggle Against Jim Crow: Lulu B. White and the NAACP, 1900 to 1957 (Texas A&M University Press, 1999) documents the journey of a woman who had great influence in Houston and Texas. Southern Black Women in the Modern Civil Rights Movement is another highly regarded publication written by Pitre. She has been the recipient of grants from the Fulbright Foundation, Texas Council for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is also a former member of the Texas Council for the Humanities. She is also a member of the Speakers Bureau for the Texas Council for the Humanities and serves on the nominating board of the Organization of American Historians. [68]

See also


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