30th anniversary of WTAMU becoming part of the TAMU system

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  • This article was found in the Sept. 12, 1990 issue of the Prairie written by Staff Writer Danette Baker, not long after the fall semester had started at WTSU.

  • Staff Writer Danette Baker wrote about how the merger benefitted the agriculture department and enrollment rates in the Sept. 19, 1990 issue of the Prairie.

  • Staff Writer Richard Thompson wrote this opinion piece in the Sept. 26, 2020 issue of the Prairie about the merger between West Texas State University and Texas A&M University and offered an idea on what they though the university should be renamed.

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Sept. 1, 2020 serves as the 30th anniversary of West Texas A&M University joining the Texas A&M System. A virtual celebration is taking place on the WTAMU website and features messages from Chancellor John Sharp and President Walter Wendler with videos from legislators congratulating the university on this anniversary. Historical documents and photos can also be viewed on the website with a new WT Traditions clothing line available on the University Bookstore website.

According to the University website, West Texas State University regents had to decide between joining University of Texas or Texas A&M University in light of changes made to Texas higher education in the late 1980s. Not long after the decision was made to join TAMU in Jan. 1990, Barry B. Thompson of Tarleton State University was named president of WTSU and stayed until August 1994. The name of the university was officially changed during the Thompson presidency from West Texas State University to West Texas A&M University on June 1, 1993.

Here is all that’s happened since the WTAMU joined TAMU:

  • Barry B. Thompson was named president of the university in 1990.
  • The football program was cancelled for a year and then brought back on a non-scholarship basis.
  • General Education Requirement hours were raised from 40 hours to 50 hours.
  • WTSU became West Texas A&M University on June 1, 1993.
  • Thompson left office to become chancellor of TAMU and was succeeded by Russell C. Long in 1994.
  • The first doctoral program was established in 2003, a Ph.D. in agriculture.
  • The construction of the Hastings Electronic Learning Center that made WTAMU a leader in distance education in Texas.
  • The Bivins Nursing Learning Center was constructed.
  • The First United Bank Center was built, costing $13.9 million.
  • The Sybil B. Harrington Fine Arts Complex was added to campus for $30 million.
  • Dr. J. Patrick O’Brien became president of the university in 2006 after Long stepped down the previous December.
  • Record breaking enrollment rates, 28%, between 2006-2015.
  • The College of Nursing and Health Sciences was established in 2006.
  • The Amarillo Center was established in 2008.
  • Buff Promise was introduced in 2008.
  • In 2013, the WTAMU Schools of Music and the WTAMU School of Engineering and Computer Science were established along with the Center for Learning Disabilities.
  • The Teaching Excellence Center was established in 2013.
  • The Equestrian Team won their second Western National Championship in 2013.
  • Lady Buff softball won the national championship in 2014.
  • Women’s basketball was NCAA runner up for 2013-2014.
  • The Share Your Pride campaign raised $50.3 million in 2014.
  • In 2015, College of Agriculture, Science and Engineering divided into the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences and the School of Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics.
  • Buff, Centennial and Founders Halls were added to campus between 2006 and 2015, the first since 1971.
  • Buffalo Sports park was added, totalling $22 million.
  • Other new construction includes the Stanley Schaeffer Agriculture Learning Laboratory, the Bain Athletic Center, Charles K. and Barbara Kerr Vaughan Pedestrian Mall, Victory Circle, the UL Advanced Wind Turbine Research Facility and the Hayward Spirit Clock Tower.
  • In 2016, Dr. Walter Wendler became president of the university.
  • WT 125 was established.
  • The Agricultural Sciences Complex was built in 2019. 
  • Buffalo Stadium was built in 2019.
  • Construction for the VERO building is underway.