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Lamar University
Motto Texas Roots. Infinite Possibilities.
Established September 17, 1923
Type Public
Endowment $58 million[1]
President James (Jimmy) Simmons
Students 14,000
Location Beaumont, Texas, USA
Former names South Park Junior College (1923-32)
Lamar College (1932-49)
Lamar State College of Technology (1949-70)
Nickname Cardinals

Lamar University is a comprehensive university offering bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees; located in Beaumont, Texas, and a member of The Texas State University System. As of Fall 2009, the university had 13,994 students, the highest enrollment in the university’s 86-year history.



Lamar University started on September 17, 1923 as South Park Junior College, operating on the unused third floor of the new South Park High School (now South Park Middle School). South Park Junior College became the first college in Texas to receive Texas Department of Education approval during the first year of operation, and became fully accredited in 1925.

In about 1932, recognizing that the junior college was now serving the region, the college renamed itself Lamar College, after Mirabeau B. Lamar. The next year, the separation of the college from South Park High School began with construction of new facilities. By 1942, the college was completely independent of the South Park school district, and operations moved to the current campus.

With the end of World War II, an influx of veterans boosted enrollment, and the Lamar board of trustees asked the Texas Legislature to promote Lamar College to a four-year state college. The initial attempt in 1947, led by Texas Representative Jack Brooks failed, but the following year the bill passed both houses. On June 14, 1949, Governor Beauford Jester signed the bill creating Lamar State College of Technology with the new entity to focus on engineering and science, an emphasis that continues today.

Enrollment continued to grow throughout the 1950s and 1960s, reaching 10,000 students, but in the 1970s enrollment plateaued. In 1969, Lamar State College opened its first branch in Orange, Texas. In 1970, Lamar State College began offering its first doctoral program, the Doctor of Engineering, and in 1971 the college's name was officially changed to Lamar University.

In 1975, the university merged with Port Arthur College in Port Arthur, Texas, creating Lamar University-Port Arthur. In 1983, state Senator Carl Parker sponsored a bill creating the Lamar University System, and in 1986, Lamar University-Orange and Lamar University-Port Arthur were granted accreditation separate from the main campus. Lamar Institute of Technology was created in 1990 to provide technical, business, health and industrial education through programs two years or fewer in length.

In 1995, the Lamar University System was incorporated into the Texas State University System, with the Lamar State College - Orange, Lamar State College - Port Arthur and Lamar Institute of Technology campuses becoming separate entities within the system. Since the reorganization, Lamar University's enrollment has continually increased, and numerous construction projects have revitalized or replaced old buildings.


The Lamar University campus is located on Martin Luther King Boulevard, near U.S. Highway 69, in the southeast part of Beaumont, Texas. Facilities include the 10,000 seat Montagne Center arena, and the eight story Mary and John Gray Library. Lamar is also home to the Texas Academy of Leadership in the Humanities (better known as TALH), a dual-credit high school program created for gifted and talented high school students in their junior and senior years.

In the late 1990s, Lamar began undertaking campus improvement projects. Most buildings on the campus dated to the late 1960s and 70s and had deteriorated since. Many older buildings in the northern part of the campus were gutted and refinished one-by-one.

In 2001, the University began replacing its 1960s-vintage residence halls with new apartment-style housing facilities, dubbed "Cardinal Village" (the cardinal is the school mascot). Older campus housing facilities have been demolished as the Cardinal Village complex has expanded to meet demand. Demand for on-campus housing has risen, coinciding with the opening of the new residence halls. Cardinal Village II & III were built specifically to meet these demands. As of January 2006, a new gourmet food court style dining hall was opened to provide students with a wider selection of dining opportunities [2].

In March 2005, the McDonald Gym temporarily closed. The gym underwent extensive renovation and adjacent to it a new recreational sports center was built. The $19 million center, named the Sheila Umphrey Recreational Sports Center, opened in April 2007. [3]. The 129,500-foot (39,500 m) facility includes 13,000 square feet (1,200 m2) of cardiovascular and free-weight training; a one-tenth-mile indoor walking/jogging track; a 43-foot (13 m) climbing wall; basketball, volleyball and badminton courts; racquetball, handball and squash courts; a wellness and fitness center; health food café and juice bar; lounge areas with pool tables; an outdoor putting green; and air hockey, foosball, video games and TV.

In August 2007, the University completed construction on Cardinal Village IV, a $16-million expansion of its state-of-the-art residence halls. The new expansion brings the number of beds on campus to more than 2,000.[4].

The University began construction of a New Phase of the dorms, Phase V in December of 2009. Construction is estimated to be completed in Late 2010 - Early 2011.


Lamar University's mascot is the Cardinal

Lamar University is a member of the Southland Conference, participating in men and women's basketball, golf, track & field, cross-country, tennis, women's soccer and volleyball, and baseball. Lamar is in the current process of bringing back its football team. They hired Head Coach Ray Woodard in the Summer of 2008, and they are scheduled to start playing again in 2010. The program's signature win came on September 5, 1981, in an 18-17 win over the UPI #20 ranked Baylor Bears under Head Coach Larry Kennan. This would be the first time that a Division 1-AA team defeated a Division 1-A ranked opponent. The football program was dropped in 1989, largely due to budget overruns and declining attendance.

The proposed re-introduction of the football team would be funded by an increase in student tuition fees. Under the current plan, the football team would not arrive until 2010.[1] On January 30, 2008, 78% of Lamar students voted to approve the athletics fee required for football's resurrection. Under the current plan, the university would not play conference games until 2011, although it may play a full schedule of exhibition games in 2010. Regents of The Texas State University System approved the athletics fee to reinstate football at its regular meeting February 20. On May 19, 2008, Ray Woodard was chosen as head coach for the football program.[2]

Conference and national championships

Southland Conference

  • Baseball – 1971, '75, '76, '77, '79, '81, '84, '85, '03, '04
  • Men's Basketball – 1964, '70, '78, '79, '80, '81, '83, '84, '00 '08
  • Football – 1964, '65, '66, '71
  • Men's Golf – 1964, '65, '66, '67, '68, '69, '70, '71, '72, '73, '81, '82, '83, '85, '86, '87, '01, '02, '03
  • Men's Track & Field – 1971, '78, '79, '80, '81, '82, '83, '84, '85, '86
  • Men's Tennis – 1967, '73, '74, '75, '76
  • Women's Tennis – 1983, '84
  • Volleyball – 1983, '84, '01

Sun Belt Conference

  • Baseball – 1993
  • Women's Basketball – 1992
  • Women's Golf – 1993, '94, '95, ‘96
  • Volleyball – 1993, '97

Lone Star Conference

  • Men's Basketball – 1961, '62, '63
  • Football – 1954
  • Men's Golf – 1953, '54, '55, '56, '57, '58, '59, '60, '61, '62, '63
  • Men's Tennis – 1952, '53, '54, '55, '56, '57, '58, '59, '60, '61, '62, '63
  • Men's Track & Field – 1963

American South Conference

  • Women's Basketball – 1991
  • Women's Tennis – 1988
  • Men's Track & Field – 1988, '89
  • Women's Track & Field – 1992
  • Volleyball – 1987, '90

NAIA National Championships

  • Men's Tennis – 1955, '56, '57, '58, '59, '60
  • Men's Golf – 1956, '57, '58, '59, '60

NCAA College Division National Championships

  • Men's Golf – 1967, '68


  • Men's & Women's Track & Field – 39
  • Men's Basketball – 3
  • Women's Basketball – 1
  • Men's Golf – 9
  • Women's Golf – 5
  • Men's & Women's Tennis – 18
  • Volleyball – 1

Engineering at Lamar

Engineering is one of the most respected colleges at Lamar University. The College of Engineering at Lamar University continues to receive industry support and statewide recognition. Some industry support includes a $1 million dollar donation from the Valero Energy Foundation. [5] The state legislator has supported Lamar with a $4 million dollar research lab. [6] In 2005 Lamar's First Ph.D program was established in the College of Engineering, the Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering. [7] The College of Engineering has the second and third endowed departments at Lamar University: The Philip M. Drayer Department of Electrical Engineering, established with a $5 million gift from Philip M. Drayer in 2007. [8] In 2009 the Dan F. Smith Department of Chemical Engineering was established with a $5 million donation from Dan F. Smith [9]. The College of Engineering has 5 departments:

Dan F. Smith Department of Chemical Engineering

The Dan F. Smith Department of Chemical Engineering was established with a $5 million donation from Dan F. Smith in 2009. [10] Dan F. Smith graduated from Lamar in 1969 with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, since then he has worked for many chemical companies including Lyondell where he was the CEO. Lamar University Chemical Engineering has the proud history of being one of the top rated programs in the country. The program continually produces the same or more M.S. in Chemical Engineering graduates than Universities such as Stanford, IIT and MIT. [11] The Ph.D.’s new building will be completed in mid 2010 and will significantly increase the amount of research that the department is able to do.

Civil Engineering

The Civil Engineering department is one of the broadest departments in the College. Headed by Dr. Robert L. Yuan it comprises the degrees of:

B.S. in Civil Engineering

B.S. in Construction Management

M.E. in Civil Engineering

M.E.M in Civil Engineering

M.E.S in Civil Engineering

M.S.E.E (Environmental Engineering)

M.S.E.S (Environmental Studies)

D.E. in Civil Engineering

In the Fall of 2008 the Civil Engineering department started a new program, the Reese Construction Management program, with a generous $1.25 million dollar donation from Jerry and Sheila Reese.[12] The program is headed by Steve McCrary Ph.D.

Phillip M. Drayer Department Electrical Engineering

The Philip M. Drayer Department of Electrical Engineering was endowed with a $5 million dollar gift from Philip M. Drayer in 2007. [13] Phillip M. Drayer graduated from Lamar in 1967 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering since then he has gone on to be the CEO of several successful companies. The department has been chaired by Ph.D. Harley Myler since 2001. Dr. Myler is the inaugural holder of the Mitchle Endowed chair in Telecommunications. The department has many successful alumni in the industry including Phil Drayer (LUEE ’67) , and Charles Garrett (LUEE ’59) inventor and founder of Garrett Metal Detectors. [14]

Industrial Engineering

Mechanical Engineering

Dual Credit Program

Logo for

In the summer of 2009, Lamar University partnered with the University of Texas at Arlington to create an online dual credit program for high school students in Texas. The partnership between the two universities operates at the website[3] Online dual credit courses are available for free to high school students through state funding via House Bill 3646. [4]

Notable alumni

See also

  • Al Vincent - Major League baseball coach
  • Governor's School of Texas - a 3 week program for gifted high school students funded by the state of Texas.
  • Gerald Duff, PhD - Novelist, Poet, and Professor of English

References (endowment)

  1. ^ Football Team Fees, December 04, 2007,  
  2. ^ Football Head Coach Chosen, May 19, 2008,  
  3. ^ New Online Dual Credit Program for High Schoolers Begins, August 31, 2009,  
  4. ^ Tuition Comparison Chart, August 31, 2009,  

External links



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