Here, you'll be able to trace the impact of this young University and learn about the students, faculty, staff, alumni and community that have made the University's mission real. It's a story 50 years in the making that continues today. Visit regularly as new additions to our story are incorporated.
A Laredo delegation led by physician brothers Leonides and Joaquin Cigarroa, asks the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to amend their 10-year plan to include an upper-level senior institution in Laredo as a branch of Texas A&I University, Kingsville.
Texas’ 61st Legislature passes HB 607 by Rep. Honore Ligarde and Senator Wayne Connally, creating an upper-level center with limited enrollment to junior and senior students to be named Texas A&I University at Laredo.
Dr. Billy F. Cowart, begins a 15-year history of educational impact here. He establishes the University’s branch campus, working from a study carrel in the Harold R. Yeary Library at Laredo Junior College. He is often assisted by a young student, María Teresa Vela (now Treviño), who after graduation becomes Director of Admissions and Advisement…and begins a 40+ year career with the University.
Then Texas A&I University at Laredo opens its doors as the State’s first upper-level institution. Founding faculty include Drs. F. Allen Briggs, Drew Tinsley, Harold M. Kanter, Frank Dietz, Rex Ball, Stanley Green, Rafael Lecuona, Alfredo Supervielle, Donald R. Critchlow, Leon R. De King, Joe Fisher Freeman, Henry B. Darling, librarian Clifford G. Dawdy, registrar Alfredo García, and student services administrator David VerMilyea.
For the first time, degrees for graduates are conferred in Laredo. Some 75 graduates receive the University’s first degrees in business administration, elementary and secondary education and arts and sciences.
A second wave of new faculty is recruited by University president Dr. Billy F. Cowart. Among them are longtime University faculty and leaders Drs. Manuel Pacheco, Lem Londos Railsback, and Eduardo Hinojosa.
LSU solicits community insight about program development from a broad spectrum of business and civic leaders. A shared suggestion focuses on the University providing education programs in international trade. LSU responds by establishing the Institute for International trade. It is partially self-supporting through fees charged for conferences and publications in combination with State funds and private donations. It soon becomes a signature feature of the young University.
Despite impressive enrollment growth, a series of State budget cuts threatens to thwart the University’s independence and plans to implement new programs. Community members, including Laredo mayor J. C. Martin, Jr., then chair of the Texas A&I University System Board, rallies to forestall the cuts and the reductions of staff and service they promise.
The University’s enrollment grows to 852 and reflects additional master’s degrees in education, business administration and international trade.
The House Committee on Higher Education, with Representative Billy Hall of Laredo as a member, averts the budget cuts with a funding compromise by the Texas A&I University System. Laredo’s International Trade Institute, part of that funding, is recognized for emphasizing diplomacy as well as trade with México.
Driven by enrollment growth, the Laredo Junior College Board of Trustees unanimously agrees to provide LSU with several acres of land to support the addition of an 18,000 square-foot classroom building, University Hall. Groundbreaking for LSU’s first building follows in May.
A study is undertaken to consider changing the name of the University. The notion of having “our own name and identity” is attractive to President Billy F. Cowart. University students concur, and 69 percent favor a new name. 107 names are considered and narrowed to five. Faculty member Dr. Donald Baerresen’s suggestion, Laredo State University, wins.
The 65th Legislature approves HB 944 (Hale/Truan), changing the University’s name to Laredo State University and establishing the University System of South Texas. Governor Dolph Briscoe signs the name change bill into law. The University becomes Laredo State University effective September 1, 1977.