Louis R. Pietzsch founded a public junior college in Beaumont's South Park. He had become intensely interested in the junior college movement while enrolled in summer school at the University of Chicago in 1918, and by 1921, was convinced that South Park should have a junior college.
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. Pietzsch acted as the first president of the college. 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 1932, the college administration, recognizing that the junior college was serving the region rather than just the community, renamed it as Lamar College. It was named for Mirabeau B. Lamar, the second president of the Republic of Texas. Because he arranged to set aside land in counties for public schools, he is regarded as the "Father of Texas Education." A statue of him was installed in the quadrangle of the campus near the Setzer Student Center. The inscription is: "The cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy and, while guided and controlled by virtue, the noblest attribute of man. It is the only dictator that freemen acknowledge and the only security that freemen desire."
In 1933, the college was moving toward independence from South Park High School when construction began on 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. 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 in the Texas House of Representatives by Jack Brooks and in the Texas Senate by W. R. Cousins, Jr., failed, but the following year the two sponsors again advanced the bill through both houses. On June 14, 1949, Governor Beauford Jester signed the bill creating Lamar State College of Technology; it was to focus on engineering and science, an emphasis that continues today.
Enrollment continued to grow throughout the 1950s and 1960s, reaching 10,000 students. Graduate work was authorized in 1960, when master's degrees were offered in several fields. The enrollment plateaued in the 1970s as the baby boomers generation reached adulthood.
In 1969, Lamar State College opened its first branch at a center in Orange, Texas. In 1970, Lamar State College began offering its first doctoral program, the Doctor of Engineering. In 1971 the college's name was officially changed to Lamar University.
African American veterans of World War II who returned to Southeast Texas found they had no opportunities for postsecondary education or vocational training and chafed over Lamar becoming state supported while it still barred their admission solely on the grounds of race. A group of black leaders calling themselves the Negro Goodwill Council protested to Governor Beauford Jester about the dismal educational inequality in the city and the exclusion of blacks from Lamar State College. They attempted to block passage of the bill to change Lamar into a state-supported senior college, which resulted in John Gray, Lamar’s president, creating a black branch of Lamar called Jefferson Junior College. It opened with evening classes at Charlton-Pollard High School. In 1952, James Briscoe, a native Beaumonter and graduate of Charlton-Pollard High School, applied to Lamar. Briscoe’s parents were laborers and members of the Beaumont chapter of the NAACP. They courageously supported their son’s effort to prove that qualified blacks desired more than junior college offerings and wanted to study in Lamar’s new four-year degree programs and avoid the inconvenience of going long distances away from home for a BA degree. Briscoe, a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta since 1950, at the urging of his parents and the Beaumont NAACP, applied to Lamar and was accepted. The admissions office notified him that on the basis of his transcript, he was qualified to enroll for the spring term of 1951. On January 29, when Briscoe went to Lamar with his acceptance letter in hand to register for classes, Lamar’s acting president G. A. Wimberly met with Briscoe and explained that a mistake had been made and suggested he apply to TSUN, now named Texas Southern University. State law, he said, created Lamar for whites only. In the summer of 1955, Versie Jackson and Henry Cooper, Jr., became the lead plaintiffs of a class action lawsuit, Jackson v. McDonald, which sought to end Lamar’s policy of racial segregation. Lamar Cecil, the federal judge the case came before, ruled on July 30, 1956, that Lamar’s “white youth” only admissions policy was unconstitutional and that September, a total of twenty-six blacks were admitted to the college amid violent protests at the campus gates and throughout the region for a number of weeks until Texas Rangers arrived and the rule of law restored.
In 1975, the university merged with Port Arthur College in Port Arthur, Texas, creating Lamar University-Port Arthur. In 1983, state Senator Carl A. Parker sponsored a bill creating the Lamar University System. 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 in Beaumont 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. In the fall of 1998 the Lamar University faculty numbered 423 and student enrollment was 8,241. Since the reorganization, Lamar University's enrollment has continually increased.
Total enrollment reached 15,000 students in Fall 2012. Recently numerous construction projects have revitalized or replaced old buildings. In addition football was revived as a varsity sport.
The campus was moved to the current site in 1942 because the school had outgrown its former location and taken on a more regional role. In the late 1990s, Lamar began undertaking campus improvement projects. Most buildings on the campus dated to the late 1960s and 70s. 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." 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 & IV 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.
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. 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 University completed construction of Cardinal Village Phase V in August 2010 bringing on-campus housing capacity to 2,500 students.
The University, in anticipation of the return of football program in 2010, renovated and upgraded Provost Umphrey Stadium (formerly Cardinal Stadium) and a new state-of-the-art Dauphin Athletic Complex. In October 2014, Lamar broke ground for a new administration building to be named the Wayne A. Reaud Building for a prominent local attorney and long time benefactor for the university. The building will also house the newly established Reaud Honors College, renaming the 50-year-old honors program. Other campus construction includes the Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship (CICE). The facility is a conduit for industry and university interaction, including projects, on-going research, student experiential learning, special events and training. It will also house the Small Business Development Center. A new science-technology building was approved in the 84th legislative session.
Lamar offers 96 undergraduate, 50 master's and eight doctoral degree programs in seven academic colleges. The academic colleges are the College of Engineering, College of Education and Human Development, College of Business, College of Fine Arts and Communication, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Graduate Studies, and the Reaud Honors College. Lamar is classified as a Doctoral Research University by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education and is one of only two universities classified as such within the Texas State University System. Lamar and Kunming University of Science and Technology in southwest China have an exchange program that allows Chinese students to attend Lamar for one year while pursuing their bachelor's degree.
The university also has many academic units that fall outside of the five main colleges. The College of Graduate Studies handles graduate students. The Center for Teaching and Learning Enhancement offers training and support to faculty and runs the university's Active and Collaborative Engagement for Students (ACES) Program. The ACES program is designed to provide support to high risk students and integrate active learning methods into all core courses at LU. The university also provides secondary education through the Texas Academy for Leadership in the Humanities, stateu.com and the Texas Governor's School.
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, stateu.com. The partnership between the two universities operates at the website stateu.com. Online dual credit courses are available for free to high school students through state funding via House Bill 3646.
The BAAS online degree completion program, an expansion of a degree the University has offered for almost 20 years, is offered online through Lamar University Academic Partnerships. The online degree completion program is priced affordably at one of the lowest tuition rates in the country.
The Texas Academy of Leadership in the Humanities (better known as TALH), is a dual-credit high school program created for gifted and talented high school students in their junior and senior years. Students live on campus in the Cardinal Village residence halls. The program enjoys great success with most students receiving major scholarships upon completion such as Lamar's prestigious Mirabeau Scholarship. The participants are known to Lamar students as the "Academy Kids", citing their young age.
In August 2010, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) released a study on core curriculum standards for 715 four-year institutions. The study compared colleges on their commitment to core subjects deemed essential to a well-rounded, competitive education. Lamar was one of only 16 institutions to receive an A rating. The study was featured in the Washington Post with a tag line "Forget Harvard and think Lamar." In October 2010, the University announced they would raise admission standards for the second time in two years because of the increased enrollment. The enrollment standards increase took effect in the fall of 2011.
Lamar is considered a National University by the U.S. News & World Report's 2015 ranking. According to the site, 76.6% of students who applied to Lamar in 2013 were admitted. Lamar is ranked in several 2015 U.S. News & World Report categories.Best Nursing Schools – 181 (tied)
Best Speech-Language Pathology – 220
Best Online Bachelors Programs – 47 (tied)
Best Online Graduate Justice Programs – 31 (tied)
Best Online Graduate Education Programs – 35 (tied)
Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs – 74 (tied)
Lamar is ranked #602 in Forbes' 2014 America's Top Colleges report.
Lamar' Engineering college had an overall ranking of #185 in the nation, #55 in the South, and #11 in Texas in the current best-engineering-colleges.com ranking of engineering colleges. In the same report, Lamar's General Engineering School ranking was #18 in the nation, #6 in the South, and #2 in Texas.
The College of Engineering is arguably the school's most respected program. Lamar's birth was in large part due to the demand for technically trained individuals in the area, after the 1901 Spindletop oil discovery, making Beaumont, Texas one of the most heavily industrialized areas of the United States. The school was founded in 1923 as a junior college. On September 1, 1951, the Texas Legislature promoted the school to a four-year institution and renamed the school Lamar State College of Technology. The legislature specifically noted the school would emphasize engineering, technology, and science to serve the regions large industrial base. The school immediately began granting engineering degrees in 1951. In 1970, Lamar's history as a science and technology school was again a driving force in a name change. The state authorized Lamar to offer its first doctoral degree program, the doctor of engineering. A dream shared by many became a reality on May 3, 1971, when Governor Preston Smith signed a bill changing the name of Lamar State College of Technology to Lamar University. In 2005, Lamar's First Ph.D program was established in the College of Engineering: the Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering.
The College of Engineering has 10 research centers under its authority. These are coordinated under the Texas Centers for Technology Incubation (TCTI). The college also participates in the Texas Space Grant Consortium, which sponsors research on space based technologies.
The Dan F. Smith Department of Chemical Engineering was established with a $5 million donation from Dan F. Smith in 2009. 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. The building housing the Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering program was dedicated the Charles and Eleanor Garrett Engineering Center in Fall 2012.
Headed by Dr. Robert Yuan, the Civil Engineering department is one of the broadest departments in the college offering eight degree programs.
The Philip M. Drayer Department of Electrical Engineering was endowed with a $5 million gift from Philip M. Drayer in 2007. The department has been chaired by Harley Myler, Ph.D., since 2001. Dr. Myler is the inaugural holder of the Mitchell 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.
The Industrial Engineering department is currently headed by Dr. Brian Craig. It offers two undergraduate degrees: B.S. Industrial Engineering, and B.S. in Industrial Technology; and four graduate degrees: Master of Engineering Industrial Engineering, Master of Science Industrial Engineering, Doctor of Engineering in Industrial Engineering, and Master of Engineering Management.
The Mechanical Engineering department is currently headed by Dr. Hsing-wei Chu. It offers both undergraduate degree (B.S) as well as graduate degrees, consisting of degrees programs in Master of Engineering ( M.E.), Master of Engineering Science (M.E.S) and Doctor of Engineering (D.E.). The department is affiliated with ASME and ASTM in order to prepare undergraduate and graduate students in getting updated on the latest challenges faced by the industry and prepare them for intercollegiate competitions as well as industry level symposiums, resulting in rewarding careers in mechanical engineering professions. The department is equipped with the latest simulation software and systems that enable students to develop their skills and apply the knowledge and principles of product design and development in mechanical engineering applications.
The University established the College of Business in 1972. Prior to this time, degrees in business and economics were granted by the Division of Business, whichwas established in 1951, and the School of Business, established in 1954. All undergraduate and graduate degree programs of the College of Business are accredited byAACSB International.
Four departments – Accounting and Business Law; Economics and Finance; Information Systems and Analysis; and Management and Marketing – make up the College of Business. The Bachelor of Business Administration degree is granted in all areas. A Bachelor of Science degree is granted in Economics. In Fall 2008, the College of Business acquired a new program, the Reese Construction Management program, with a $1.25 million donation from Jerry and Sheila Reese. The program is headed by Steve McCrary Ph.D.
The Aspen Institute Center for Business Education's 2011–2012 edition of Beyond Grey Pinstripes ranked Lamar's MBA program in the top 100 in the world for the third consecutive year. In November 2010, Janie Nelson Steinhagen and Mark Steinhagen created the Janie Nelson Steinhagen and Mark Steinhagen Global Fellows Endowment in the College of Business. The endowment will provide graduate students and faculty with opportunities to gain first-hand knowledge of the global marketplace. Students taking advantage of the Steinhagen Global Fellows Endowment will travel abroad accompanied by a College of Business faculty Steinhagen Global Fellow. They will participate in classes and seminars with other students, visit businesses and experience the culture of the country – all at an advanced level.
Through the Entrepreneurship Lecture Series, endowed by a business alumnus, students and faculty have the opportunity to be inspired by the world's leading entrepreneurs. The series brings high profile and dynamic speakers to the campus yearly.
The College of Education and Human Development comprises five departments: Educational Leadership, Family & Consumer Sciences, Health & Kinesiology, Counseling and Special Populations and Professional Pedagogy.
The teacher preparation and education graduate programs of the College of Education and Human Development are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) at both the initial teacher preparation and advanced preparation levels. Lamar is among the largest educators of teachers in the nation due to its large Masters in Education program.
Family and Consumer Science graduates with post-baccalaureate work routinely experience a 90–100 percent pass rate on the American Dietetic Association (ADA) Registration Examination.
The Educator Preparation Program (EPP) is accredited by the State Board of Educator Certification and routinely has an average 96% summary pass rate for all certification tests.
The College hosts the Governor's School of Texas, a three-week summer program for gifted high school students.
The College of Arts and Sciences houses a wide variety of Lamar's academic programs. Fields of study include but are not limited to: Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Biology, Chemistry, Nursing, Music, English, Earth Science, Foreign Language, History, Political Science and Psychology. The College is home to the JoAnne Gay Dishman Department of Nursing. The nursing department consists of BSN and ADN degrees. They have recorded a nearly 100% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam, a national exam required to receive a license to practice. The master of nursing online program in the Lamar University JoAnne Gay Dishman Department of Nursing has been ranked second in the nation for excellence in faculty credentials and training by U.S. News & World Report in Fall 2012.
The College of Fine Arts and Communication offers degree programs in communication fields such as Journalism and Broadcasting, Speech and Hearing sciences, Sign Language, and Deaf Education. Lamar University is one of five universities in Texas which offer a clinical doctorate in audiology program. Fine arts degree programs such as Art, Theater, Music and Dance department programs are housed in the Music, Theater, and Art buildings. The college is home to the Mary Morgan Moore Department of Music. The department of communications operates LUTV, a local educational access television station, and KVLU (FM 91.3) a National Public Radio station. The Department of Art's faculty includes internationally acclaimed artists Keith Carter and Prince Varughese Thomas.
The Reaud Honors College, established in 2015, became the ninth honors college in the state of Texas. The honors program has been part of the university's academic offering since 1963. The 45,000 sq ft Wayne A. Reaud Building, which will house the honors college as well as university administration offices, broke ground on October 7, 2014. The honors college is a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council and the Great Plains Honor Council.
The Lamar University campus is located off of Martin Luther King Boulevard, near U.S. Highway 69, in the southeast part of Beaumont, Texas. The campus is 7 miles (11 km) from the Jack Brooks Regional Airport, 2 miles (3.2 km) from the Neches River and 5 miles (8.0 km) from Downtown Beaumont. The Big Thicket National Preserve, Village Creek State Park, and the Gulf of Mexico are all located within 30 minutes of the school. Facilities include the 10,080 seat Montagne Center, the eight-story Mary and John Gray Library and the 16,000 seat Provost Umphrey Stadium.
Cardinal Village is the university's community of apartment-style dormitories, part of Lamar University's investment in student life on campus. As of 2010, there were five "Phases" of Cardinal Village with the capacity to house 2500 students. Each room includes a private bedroom, furnished with the necessities of college life such as a mini-refrigerator, microwave, computer desk, telephone outlets, cable TV access, and easy connectivity to the University’s network. Cardinal Village housing also offers community centers, study areas, meeting rooms, fitness centers, a swimming pool, on-site laundry facilities, basketball and volleyball courts, social lounges, and parking. During the summer of 2011 all five phases of Cardinal village were renamed for previously-demolished residence halls on campus: Phase I – Gentry Hall, Phase II – Morris Hall, Phase III – Combs Hall, Phase IV – Campbell Hall and Phase V – Monroe Hall.
As the tallest structure on campus at eight stories, the Mary and John Gray Library serves as a landmark for the university. The library was completed on April 26, 1976, having taken two and a half years to complete. It was named for Mary and John Gray, who are considered the "First Family" of the University. Its collection exceeds 1.3 million volumes with interlibrary accessibility providing access to millions more. An online catalog is available to locate titles and allow students to search selected databases at no cost. A service-oriented library staff provides assistance in the use of reference materials, documents, special collections and instructional media.
The Sheila Umphrey Recreational Sports Center was completed in 2007 at a cost of $19 million. The construction included renovation of the McDonald Gym, which had previously served as the university's sports center and home of the volleyball program. The naming of the center was made possible by a $5 million donation by local attorney Walter Umphrey in 2005. The 129,550-square-foot (12,036 m2) center includes a 13,000 sq ft (1,200 m2) cardiovascular room, a one-tenth-mile walking/jogging track, a 43-foot (13 m) climbing wall, basketball, indoor floor hockey/soccer arena, volleyball, badminton courts, and racquetball courts. The center also sports a wellness and fitness center, health food café and juice bar. The lounge areas include pool tables, putting green, air hockey, foosball, video games and large screen TV. The center is home to the Recreational Sports Office, which organizes and hosts intramural sports leagues and sport clubs teams such as volleyball, basketball, flag football, cricket, badminton, indoor soccer, pool, ultimate frisbee, and tennis. The tennis club made back-to-back appearances at the national tournament as they won 'Club of the Year' for 2015 and 2016.
The University's Brooks-Shivers Dining Hall provides a bistro ambience. It was completed in 2006 for $6.2 million and is named for Southeast Texas congressman Jack Brooks and former Texas governor Allan Shivers. The new facility provides a state-of-the-art dining experience. The 25,000-square-foot (2,300 m2) hall is set on a food court-style floor plan that offers a variety of seating areas from barstools to booths. Dining options range from a salad bar, grill and central bakery to pizza, stir fry, Mexican food, pasta, deli and soup stations. The state-of-the-art facility has striking interiors that include artwork created by Lamar University art students and faculty and the latest in high-tech equipment and taste-satisfying food. On-campus food services are provided by external company Chartwells, which, in addition to the dining hall, provides options including franchised fast food chains and coffee shops.
The Setzer Student Center (or the "Set," as it is known by students) hosts social and cultural activities throughout the year and is the hub for campus student organizations. The lounge areas, Mirabeau's Café and the Cardinal's Nest eatery provide students with a place to socialize and relax. The Setzer Center also houses the bookstore, which stocks textbooks, school supplies, and Lamar University/Lamar Cardinals merchandise. Administrative divisions located in the Set include the Center for Teaching and Learning Enhancement and the Office of Planning and Assessment.
During the Spring 2012 semester, the Student Government Association, led by then-president Andrew Greenberg, passed a student-wide referendum to finance renovation and remodeling the Setzer Student Center. The vote was passed with 81% approval. Ongoing remodeling and renovation projects continue to improve the center.
The Dishman Art Museum serves as a teaching facility and art museum for Lamar. It was established in 1983. The museum offers students an opportunity to experience diverse styles that reflect international trends, as well as a chance to exhibit their own work. Admission is free. The museum's permanent collection includes 19th- and 20th-century paintings from American and European artists, as well as tribal art from Africa, New Guinea, and Pre-Columbian Mexico.
The Spindletop-Gladys City Museum is an open-air museum. The museum commemorates the 1901 discovery of oil by the Lucas Gusher in Beaumont. The oil discovery was located on Spindletop salt dome in South Beaumont. The boomtown that sprung up around the well was known as Gladys City. 100,000 barrels of oil were soon produced per day, making it the most productive in the world at that time. This productivity sparked an oil boom in Texas that continues to this day.
The "Lamar Cardinals" (or "Cards") refers to the collegiate athletic teams of Lamar University. The inception of the nickname "Cardinals" dates back to the school's name change to Lamar in 1932. The teams compete in NCAA Division I athletics for all of its varsity sports. Lamar has participated in practically every level of collegiate athletics from its inception as a junior college in 1923 to its gaining university status in 1971. Lamar fields teams in each of the seventeen sports the Southland Conference sponsors. Lamar sponsors fifteen teams (seven men's and eight women's) that compete in the NCAA's Southland Conference for those seventeen sports. The newest teams are the reinstated football team beginning in 2010, and women's softball which began play in the 2013 season. With the addition of softball, Lamar is the only Southland Conference program to sponsor all men's and women's sports.
The Cardinals participate in men's and women's basketball, golf, indoor and outdoor track and field, cross country, tennis, women's soccer, softball and volleyball, and men's baseball and football.
Under former head coach Larry Kennan, Cardinal fans responded when he delivered a 6-3-2 club in 1979, his first season with the team. Lamar set all-time attendance records under Kennan by averaging 16,380 in 1980. Games against Louisiana Tech (17,600) and West Texas State (17,250) rank second and third, respectively, behind the standing-room-only 18,500 Baylor drew for the 1980 opener. The football program's signature win came on September 5, 1981 in Waco; the Cardinals triumphed with an 18–17 win over the UPI #20 ranked Baylor Bears. In 1987 Lamar football went independent to join the American South Conference, and the program was dropped altogether in 1989.
On January 30, 2008, 78% of Lamar students voted to approve the athletics fee required for football's resurrection. This vote set in motion the football team's return for the 2010 season. Regents of The Texas State University System approved the athletics fee to reinstate football at its regular meeting February 20, 2008. On May 19, 2008, Ray Woodard was chosen as head coach for the football program. Thanks to a major gift from an anonymous donor, the football field now bears the name W.S. “Bud” Leonard Field, named for a former player and longtime Lamar advocate and regent.
The Lamar University Cardinals football team returned to the gridiron after a 21-year hiatus, on September 4, 2010. The first-year squad compiled a respectable 5–6 record. The Cardinals opened Southland Conference play in 2011. The return of football to Lamar University is in part due to a generous donation from Beaumont-based law firm Provost Umphrey. To help renovate the stadium, Walter Umphrey and his wife Sheila also made a personal donation. The stadium is now named Provost Umphrey Stadium.
Founded in 1924, the men's and women's basketball teams at Lamar have both advanced deep into the NCAA tournament. The men's team has four NIT appearances, six NCAA tournament appearances, four second round appearances, and one sweet 16 appearance. The women's team has two WNIT appearance, two NCAA tournament appearances, and one Elite Eight appearance.
The men's program has been coached by fourteen head coaches including Billy Tubbs, Pat Foster, Pat Knight and Tic Price, the current head coach. The women's team has been coached by thirteen head coaches including current head coach, Robin Harmony.
Over the years, both the men's and women's programs have had the highest average attendance in the Southland Conference. Both play in the 10,080-seat Montagne Center.
The Lamar Cardinals baseball team represents Lamar University and competes in the Southland Conference of the NCAA's Division I. Except for five seasons (1987–1991), the Cardinals have been coached by Jim Gilligan since 1973. With over 1000 career wins as a head coach, he is one of the most winning coaches in NCAA history. The Cardinals baseball team leads the Southland Conference with 10 regular season titles and has participated in the NCAA Division I Regional Baseball Tournament thirteen times.
For Fall 2016, the university enrolled 15,022 students. For Fall 2015, the student body was 5,939 male and 9,026 female. In 2012–2013 the five most popular fields of study were business, engineering, general studies, interdisciplinary studies and nursing. The student-to-faculty ratio was 19:1, among the lowest in the state of Texas.
The University Press, also known as the UP, is the student-operated newspaper of Lamar. The paper was previously known as the S'Park Plug and the Red Bird before becoming the University Press in recognition of Lamar gaining university status in 1971. The UP has grown into one of Lamar’s showpieces. It is the largest student-run business on campus, and has become one of the most respected student newspapers in the country. Since 1977, the University Press and its magazines have garnered more than 800 awards, including first place for Best Non-Daily Student Newspaper in 1994 and 2005 from The Associated Press Managing Editors of Texas, and second place from the same group in 1988, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2011 and 2012. The UP has averaged more than 26 annual awards in its 35 years.
KVLU, 91.3FM, is Lamar's public radio station. The station is member-supported but also receives funding from the university. The station operates on campus. Students in the Communications Department can gain real-world experience on the staff of KVLU, or by hosting their own programs.
LUTV is Lamar's student-operated television station. The programs of LUTV are broadcast on local cable TV. Programming includes newscasts, talk shows, and soap operas. All programming is student-created and student inspired. LU students produce a weekly 30-minute newscast, a light-news package bundled with a talk show, and four unique student and faculty talk shows, all aired on local educational-access television.
LUTV also supports C-SPAN and the SETCAST program, covering 222 governmental meetings for the Southeast Texas Regional Council of Governments. These public meetings are aired on local cable systems in Orange, Port Arthur and Beaumont. The program provides 10 full-time scholarships for Lamar television students.
The program emphasizes industry-standard equipment with a mix of linear and nonlinear editing equipment, including a Leightronix Ultranexus broadcast computer, a MAC Pro Quad Core desktop workstation with Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Production Premium CS6. LUTV broadcast students work with Panasonic AG-HMC150 AVCCAM camcorders and a Newtek Tri-Caster system to support LUTV programming.
LUTV provides students with the opportunity to envision, write, create, direct, report, anchor and star in their own productions.
Lamar boasts 20 national fraternities and sororities. College Panhellenic Council (CPC) is the governing body for the three National Pan-Hellenic Council chapters at LU. National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) governs the nine historically African American fraternities and sororities. The Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) governs men's fraternities. The Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) governs three multicultural Greek-letter organizations, two sororities and one fraternity.Lamar University Greek organizations
The student body of Lamar has developed many traditions over the years. Homecoming events like the Greek vs. Faculty basketball game, block party and Cardinal Mania Bonfire occur annually on Homecoming week. Food Fest is an event on campus where every organization is given a booth in the Setzer Student Center from which they can sell food. There are normally over 100 groups that participate in Food Fest. Greek organizations also annually hold Greek Olympics among all the different fraternities and sororities. It is a tradition among Cardinal athletes not to step on the Cardinal head in the athletic complex weight room. The L' Raisers, a student spirit organization, is responsible for fostering traditions at athletic events. In 2011 the "Endzone Angels" were formed; they help the football program with fundraising, recruiting and spirit. The Angels are a group of approximately 30 female students who wear red dresses and cowboy boots to each home football game.
The 'L' Yell occurs during football kickoffs. To accomplish the 'L' Yell, fans form an L with their right hand raised in the air. At ten seconds prior to kickoff, fans yell "L" until the kicker hits the ball, then the entire stadium yells the letter "U" and rocks the L in their right hand to the right, which forms a U shape. This signifies "LU" which is a popular moniker for the university. This tradition carries over into many other sports such as free throws in basketball games and serves during volleyball.
Traditions of Lamar University also extend to singing the school's fight song, "Go Big Red," and the "Alma Mater."
The Alumni of Lamar University have gone on to distinguish themselves in every aspect of society. The school has a significant alumni base numbering over 75,000.
The average starting salary for a Lamar graduate is among the highest in Texas. The median starting salary for a Lamar graduate is $42,000 and the median mid-career salary is $77,400. Lamar has the highest median starting and mid-career salary in the Texas State University System.
Several Cardinals have gone on to distinguish themselves nationally and internationally in sports, such as PGA Tour golfer Chris Stroud, MLB player Kevin Millar, and college coaches such as Billy Tubbs and Jim Gilligan.
In business many Cardinals have gone on to found companies and lead Fortune 500 companies. Dan F. Smith, an engineering alumnus, was CEO of Lyondell. Tom Giannopolous heads MICROS. Charles Garrett, another engineering alumnus, founded, invented, and is CEO of Garrett Metal Detectors, one of the world's largest suppliers of security metal detectors.
Jack Brooks, Nick Lampson and Elvin Santos have gone on to be national politicians.Steve Molyneux – UK educational leader and Microsoft Professor of Global Educational Leadership
Al Vincent – Major League baseball coach