The college was founded on October 13, 1849, in Huntsville, Texas, by the Hampden–Sydney and Princeton-educated missionary Dr. Daniel Baker. Signed by Texas Governor George Wood, the charter of Austin College was modeled after those of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.
Baker named the school for the Texas historical figure Stephen F. Austin after the original land on which it was built was donated by the Austin family. Two other important figures in Texas history, Sam Houston and Anson Jones, served on the original board of trustees for the college, and the former site in Huntsville later became today's Sam Houston State University.
Austin College's founding president was Irish-born Presbyterian minister Samuel McKinney, who served as the school's president a second time from 1862 to 1871. Under the tenure of the fourth president of Austin College, Reverend Samuel Magoffin Luckett, Austin College suffered several yellow fever epidemics and complications related to the Civil War. Texas Synod of the Presbyterian Church decided the college would be relocated to Sherman in 1876. Construction of the new campus in north Texas came in the form of "Old Main," a two-story, red brick structure, which occurred between 1876 and 1878. Struggling with the Long Depression. Austin College saw little improvement to its building or grounds during the late 1870s; as such, Samuel Luckett resigned his position as president. From 1878 to 1885, the college continued to struggle from the aftershocks of economic depression; with an increasing debt and shrinking student body, the college turned to its 7th president, Reverend Donald MacGregor. A shrewd and well connected businessman, President MacGregor relieved a great deal of the college's debt and returned operations to normalcy. After MacGregor's death in 1887, the college welcomed President Luckett back to the campus. Throughout his second term as president, Samuel Luckett adopted a military program, grew the student body, introduced a YMCA chapter, established intercollegiate athletics and Greek fraternities, and added two wings to Old Main.
One of the school's most iconic presidents came in the form of Reverend Thomas Stone Clyce, who served as the Austin College president from 1900 to 1931; Reverend Clyce's presidency would become, and remains, the longest tenure in Austin College history.
On January 21 of 1913, Old Main was set ablaze and burnt to the ground in a matter of hours. A professor of Austin College, Davis Foute Eagleton described the incident:
"Austin College on fire and every particle of wood reduced to ashes--and walls rendered totally unfit for use. Oh, dies irae, dies irae! - The dear old building in which I have laboured for twenty-four years, gone! What traditions, memories, griefs, joys, were associated with it! The carpenters were approaching the completion of their work. The new English room was completed, the library room was soon to be ready. The literary societies lost everything. I lost all books, or, [those] in my class room. The laboratories were almost a total loss. Fortunately, the library, records, and office furniture were all in the new Y.M.C.A. building. Before the fire had begun to die out, the Senior class called the student body together and they pledged themselves by classes in writing to stand by the Faculty and the College, and that no one would leave. The Faculty also met shortly after and unanimously decided to continue college work the next day as usual, meeting their classes in places designated. Probably not another institution in the State could have done this. But the old College building is gone forever!!!"
Following the fire, the citizens of Sherman raised $50,000 to help the college rebuild. Now one of the oldest buildings on the Austin College campus, Sherman Hall housed administrative offices, an auditorium-chapel, and a library. Now the home of the humanities division, Sherman Hall boasted such guests as Harry Houdini, Harry Blackstone Sr., Madame Schumann-Heink, William Howard Taft, and George H.W. Bush.
To this day, the Austin College administration rarely cancels classes for weather or minor incidents in honor of the great commitment students and faculty made to continue on with regular coursework following the fire.
Austin College became co-educational in 1918, merging in 1930 with the all-female Texas Presbyterian College.
The Great Depression severely limited campus growth and educational expansion, however the college quickly regained momentum in the mid-1930s with the introduction of many courses, ground breaking on new facilities, and growth of previously established programs. Throughout 1942, Austin College trained some 300 men and women in engineering, science and management courses as part of the United States Office of Education's war efforts. The following year, Austin College undertook a Cadet nurses training program and hosted Naval Reserves, Texas Home Guard, Army-air trainees and Air Corps Cadets.
On September 20, 1973, the musician Jim Croce died in a plane crash in Natchitoches, Louisiana, on his way to perform the next night at Austin College. Six people died in the crash.
In 1994, Dr. Oscar Page joined the community as its 14th president. Under his tenure, 1994-2009, Dr. Page increased the school's endowment by nearly 80%, due in large part to his dedicated fundraising efforts as evidenced by the success of the "Campaign for the New Era;" a total of $120 million were raised and the campaign was heralded as the largest fundraiser in Austin College's history. Dr. Page orchestrated the construction of Jordan Family Language House, Jerry E. Apple Stadium, the Robert J. and Mary Wright Campus Center, the Robert M. and Joyce A. Johnson ’Roo Suites, and the Betsy Dennis Forster Art Studio Complex; as well as the renovation of the David E. and Cassie L. Temple Center for Teaching and Learning at Thompson House and of Wortham Center, and creation of the John A. and Katherine G. Jackson Technology Center, the Margaret Binkley Collins and William W. Collins, Jr., Alumni Center, and the College Green in Honor of John D. and Sara Bernice Moseley and Distinguished Faculty.
In the latter part of Austin College's history, the school would see de-segregation, welcome its first full-time black faculty member, first female head of a department, and, employ its first female president.
Dr. Marjorie Hass joined the campus in 2009 as both its first female and Jewish faith president. Since the start of her leadership, the college has seen the construction of the IDEA Center and two new housing complexes, the Flats at Brockett Court and the Village on Grand. Home to 103,000 square feet of multi-disciplinary and multi-purpose classrooms, laboratories, lecture halls and the largest telescope in the region found in Adams Observatory, the IDEA Center is a LEED Gold certified facility.
In 2009, Austin College welcomed its first female president, 15th in the history of the College, Dr. Marjorie Hass. She was previously provost of Muhlenberg College. Hass succeeded Dr. Oscar Page.
Listed in the U.S. News & World Report "Guide to the 331 Most Interesting Colleges", Austin College is also ninth on the U.S. News 2006 list of "most students studying abroad" and #82 on the 2013 list of National Liberal Arts Colleges. The school is named a Best Western College by The Princeton Review and is also included in The Princeton Review's Best 377 Colleges. Austin College has been ranked as one of the top ten colleges in Texas by USA Today, College Factual, and Best Colleges.
Austin College is a member of the International 50, a group of the top colleges in the USA for international focus, the non-profit organization Colleges That Change Lives and is one of the original 40 colleges profiled in the book Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Feel About Colleges by Loren Pope.Every student has a faculty mentor for their four years at Austin College.
Student to faculty ratio is 12:1.
98 percent of faculty members hold a Ph.D. or equivalent terminal degree.
Austin College graduates experience an 80 percent acceptance rate into medical schools and other health science programs (two-year average).
70 percent of graduates have at least one international study experience during college.
80 percent of students complete an internship during their college experience.
Intercollegiate athletics programs involve 20 percent of the student body.
Each year, students contribute more than 16,000 community service hours locally and internationally.
More than 80 percent of students live on campus.
The Austin College community has approximately 42 percent of students who represent ethnic and racial minorities.
63 percent of graduates enter graduate or professional school immediately or within five years of graduation.
94 percent of faculty members recently have published or presented scholarly research.
There are four residence halls on the Austin College campus. Baker Hall houses only males, Caruth Hall houses only females, and Dean and Clyce Hall are co-ed. Freshmen are required to live in one of the residence halls if living on campus for their first year. All dorms have community bathrooms, laundry facilities, a computer lab, and community kitchen. The dorms also offer a limited number of single rooms. A meal plan is required for students living in the residence halls.
Unless special accommodations are made, students are required to live on campus for three full years or six semesters.
Bryan Apartments are College-owned apartments on campus. The 16 two-bedroom apartments are occupied by 2 people each. All apartments are furnished with two movable beds, dressers, desks and chairs per bedroom, movable sofa and a chair in the living room, and a movable dining room table with four chairs. All apartments contain a kitchen equipped with a full size refrigerator, garbage disposal, microwave, and electric oven and stove. There is also a common room, shared with the Johnson 'Roo Suites, which includes a full kitchen, computer lab, study areas, and a living room area.
Johnson ‘Roo Suites are College-owned apartments, completed in the fall of 2003. Adjacent to Bryan Apartments, the suites house 152 students in four separate structures. Two of the buildings are three stories while the other two are only two stories. The residence is available to sophomores, juniors, and seniors, with priority given to sophomores and juniors. Four students, each with a separate bedroom, live in a 1,200-square-foot suite that includes two bathrooms, a common living area, and a kitchenette. The kitchenette includes a full size refrigerator, microwave, and a sink, but no stove or oven. Each resident receives a key to the main door and one for their individual bedroom. Laundry rooms are located in an outside room on each floor of each building. There is also a common room, shared with the Bryan Apartments, which includes a full kitchen, computer lab, study areas, and a living room area.
The Jordan Family Language House takes language learning to a whole new level for 48 men and women students of German, Spanish, French, and Japanese. Divided into four pods, one for each language, the House is staffed by four native speaking language residents. The Japanese pod is also shared with students in the Chinese program. Each pod features bedrooms, a kitchen, and a common living area. Residents are automatically enrolled in a quarter-credit language course each semester and must meet the requirements of the course to receive credit.
The Flats at Brockett Court provide 26 suite-style residences for juniors, extending living options beyond the traditional residence halls. Each includes four bedrooms with full sized beds, two bathrooms, full kitchen, washer and dryer, and a living area. Five of the units are two bedroom, one bath. All are fully furnished. A community room offers a social space for residents.
The Village on Grand provides neighborhood-style housing on Grand Avenue for seniors and some juniors. The Village includes 24 cottages—some single, some duplex, and three triplex “mansions,”—each housing four individuals. Each fully furnished cottage has a full-size kitchen, washer and dryer, four bedrooms with full-size beds, four bathrooms, and a living area. Each unit has front and rear covered porches. Reserved parking is available for each resident. Residents also pay their own electricity and water bills for a more independent lifestyle.
Austin College offers about 35 majors and pre-professional programs for study, and students can also create a specialized major to match their academic interests. The college is known for its nationally recognized five-year Master of Arts in Teaching program, its pre-medical, international studies, and pre-law programs, which draw many students to the campus. The college has a music program, and supports the Austin College A Cappella Choir and the Sherman Symphony Orchestra made up of students and local musicians, and assorted smaller musical ensembles. It sponsors the Posey Center of Excellence in Leadership, the Center for Environmental Studies, and the Center for Southwestern and Mexican Studies, three specialized programs that give students numerous research and internship opportunities. The school also has active programs in over 40 academic disciplines. The school's student newspaper, the Austin College Observer, is a bi-weekly publication.
There are over 50 subject areas made available to students at Austin College when deciding on a major and minor. Students are permitted to create a specialized major to match their academic interests. Austin College also offers pre-professional programs for law, medicine, dentistry, allied health, ministry, and engineering, in addition to offering a four and a half year Masters of Arts in Teaching program.
Communication/Inquiry (C/I) is a seminar course taken by freshmen during the fall of their entry year. The professor becomes a mentor for the students in the class over the next four years. C/I serves as the initial course in the undergraduate core curriculum, meant to emphasize the enhancement of core academic skills. Course topics are generally aligned with specialty of the instructors. C/I professors and topics rotate every year.
January Term is a three-week course taught every January. Students are required to take three Jan-terms during their time at Austin, and many use the semester to either take a class in an area different to their regular studies, intensify their study in their designated field, or travel abroad on one of the many travel Jan-terms. Off-campus Jan-terms are an opportunity for those who cannot study abroad during the normal school year to do so. International destinations rotate from year to year. There are also a number of domestic travel locations, such as Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, Washington D.C., Las Vegas and New York City. Classes taught on campus during January Term mirror the philosophy of intensive, experiential learning; such courses may be taught by traditional full-time faculty or visiting guests. One might even find yoga, bridge, comic book illustrating, molecular gastronomy, wine tasting or myth busters courses taught during this time.
Austin College has a strong emphasis on international learning opportunity. Every year, students have the opportunity to travel abroad through several different avenues including semesters spent abroad, January Terms, May Terms, or Global Outreach Fellowships. A 2009 report by Open Doors Online showed that Austin College sent more than 80% of its students abroad at some point during their undergraduate education.
Completed in 1998, the Jordan Family Language House is both a residential immersion facility for students pursuing German, Spanish, French, Mandarin and Japanese language and culture. The hall is divided into four sections, one for each language with Japanese and Mandarin sharing a single wing. While each house functions independently some common areas are shared among the group and potluck meals are frequently enjoyed by all the houses in the common kitchen. Students are required to speak in their language of study when in the house.
A native speaker, always coming from abroad, resides in each house to assist students in their study of the language. The native speaker also teaches intermediate and advanced conversation classes for the students, both those living in the house and not. The Jordan House contains a multimedia language laboratory, a kitchen for all residents, large interior courtyard and four common rooms decorated with cultural touches of the primary language.
Students who live in the house are enrolled in a half-credit course, in addition to another course in the language or literature. Course requirements include meeting several times a week for language table, weekly house meetings with skits, games, and other presentations in the target language, and a variety of other culturally appropriate activities.
Austin College has participated in Model United Nations around the world since 1983. Model UN conferences simulate the workings of the United Nations, with delegates assuming the current positions of the countries they represent.
The purpose of the program is to gain skills in leadership, verbal and written communication, teamwork, decision-making and research. At the National Model U.N. Conference in New York City, the Austin College program has earned more than 20 top rankings for Outstanding Delegation. Austin College has also attended conferences in Chicago, Czech Republic, Washington, DC, Hawaii, Russia and China.
Out of the Austin College first-year graduates, 44% have full-time employment, 36% attend graduate or professional schools, 11% are participating in post-graduate experiences such as internships or part-time employment, 5% are involved in prestigious fellowships or service, and 4% are seeking full-time employment.
Austin College participates in NCAA Division III athletics. Previously, Austin College competed in NAIA Division II athletics. Austin College athletes do not receive athletic scholarships. The football team became known as the "Kangaroos" sometime during the 1914 to 1915 seasons. According to campus legend, the mascot name was derived from a kangaroo court of organized students that would paddle violators of college rules. Currently students refer to their sports teams as the 'fighting roos.'
Kangaroo varsity teams include American football, men and women's soccer, men's and women's cross country, volleyball, men and women's basketball, swimming and diving, tennis, baseball and softball, which was added for the 2006-2007 season. More than 225 student athletics participate in varsity intercollegiate athletics each year. In 2004-2005, 28 students were recognized with all-conference athletic honors and 61 students received all-conference academic honors.
Austin College joined the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) on July 1, 2006, replacing Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Austin College was previously a member of the American Southwest Conference (ASC), Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association, and Texas Conference. Beginning in 2017, the Austin College football team will join the Southern Athletic Association in football, while remaining a member of the SCAC across all other sports.
In 2007, the first year of participating in the SCAC, the Austin College baseball team won the conference tournament, beating Millsaps College 9-7 in the finals.The Roos finished the season with a win-loss record of 22-25. The tournament win was the first ever conference championship for the Roos and the first time the program had ever been in the Regional tournament. Carl Iwasaki was the head coach for the Roos from 2005 until 2010. He won two coach of the year awards, the first in 2006 while the Roos were still in the ASC and the second, coming in 2007 after the Roos had joined the SCAC. Coach Iwasaki was replaced by James Rise for the 2011 season who coached for four seasons. Under Rise, the Roos went 11-24 in 2011, 8-29 in 2012, 12-29 in 2013, and 6-33 in 2014. In the fall of 2014, the Roos hired Mike Ramsey, a former TCU baseball player, who in his first year went 8-21.
Austin College began its first football season in 1896, making Austin College one of the first teams in the south. Austin College has had 119 straight seasons with a football team. Since its beginning Austin college has won eight conference championships, and one national championship. It has also hosted over 130 all Americans. Currently the football team is coached by Loren Dawson and is currently a member of NCAA Division III Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC). As noted above, the football team will move to the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) in 2017.Ryan Allen, opera singerhttp:
Marshall Applewhite, leader of the Heaven's Gate religious cult.
Gene Babb, President, National Football Scouting Inc.; former player for the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Oilers and San Francisco 49ers
Thomas Henry Ball, Texas politician and member of the United States House of Representatives
Smith Ballew, actor and singer
Billy Bookout, American football player
Hannibal Boone, 16th Attorney General of Texas
Byron Boston, a football official in the National Football League
George C. Butte, American jurist and Texas politician
Joe Coomer, American football player
Deborah Crombie, New York Times bestselling author.
Philip Diehl, Director of the United States Mint.
Nancy Duff, Stephen Colwell Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at Princeton Theological Seminary
Scott Eder, sports executive, marathoner and triathlete
Larry Fedora, head football coach at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Maurice Harper, American football player
David Lee "Tex" Hill, World War II triple ace, member of the Flying Tigers. John Wayne based his character on Hill in the movie Flying Tigers
John Hitt, president of the University of Central Florida
Ron Kirk, former Mayor of Dallas and former United States Trade Representative
Candace Kita, actress
Haskell Monroe, notable educator and university administrator
Ray Morehart, baseball player, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, played with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig
John Moseley, educator and college president
David Peeples, Texas state court judge since 1981, based in San Antonio
Carroll Pickett, Presbyterian minister, author and advocate for abolishing the death penalty
Homer Rainey, college president and professor
Charlie Robertson, American Major League Baseball pitcher
Walter Rogers, United States Representative
Dan Stoenescu, Romanian diplomat and former Minister for Romanians Abroad
Vern Sutton, operatic tenor
Larry Tidwell, head women's basketball coach at NCAA Division I programs Lamar University and University of Texas–Pan American.
Hunter Smith, former collegiate lacrosse and football player who currently resides in Grapevine, TX.
Light Townsend Cummins, (State Historian of Texas, Texas history author)
George Diggs, (biologist, Texas flora)
Jerry B. Lincecum, (English, Texas folklore author)
Shelton Williams, (political science/international studies, government consultant)
Joseph Havel, (Artist, Current Director, Glassell School of Art)