Banners recognize LU's 90th Anniversary
One hundred big, bright and bold banners began going up today across campus at Lamar University as the school enters its 90th year. The new banners were made possible with the support of the university’s neighbor ExxonMobil.
“In 1923, South Park Junior College came into being thanks to the vision of leaders in Southeast Texas who saw the importance of higher education,” said Camille Mouton, vice president for advancement. “In the decades that followed, men and women of vision have seen the importance, too, and have ensured Lamar’s growth.”
“Dr. Simmons has been Lamar’s president for almost the entire time since the university celebrated its 75th anniversary,” Mouton said. “So many great things have happened thanks to his leadership. The university is stronger than ever. He has written a great chapter in Lamar’s history.”
“This will be a very significant year for Lamar as we celebrate the accomplishments of Jimmy and Susan Simmons and, in a few months, welcome our next president,” Mouton said.
Lamar University was founded in 1923 a few blocks from the current location as South Park Junior College and enrolled 125 students in its first fall semester. The name changed to Lamar College in 1932 in honor of Mirabeau B. Lamar, second president of the Republic of Texas and the “Father of Education” in Texas. In the early 1940s, Lamar separated from the South Park school district, which had created the college, and moved to its current location.
In 1951, the school became Lamar State College of Technology, a state-supported four-year institution, and the first junior college in Texas to make such a transition. Lamar experienced tremendous growth during the 1950s and 1960s in both the number of students and the number of buildings on campus. Lamar’s stature as a research institution continued to grow with the introduction in 1970 of its first doctoral program. In 1971, the name changed to Lamar University. During the 1980s, the university was part of the Lamar University System but joined The Texas State University System in 1995. Under the leadership of President Simmons, who took office in 1999, the university has experienced another period of significant growth.
Since 1999, LU has added a host of facilities to improve campus life, attracted generous donations from alumni and friends, brought in prestigious research grants to improve scholarship and teaching, and set and broken enrollment records repeatedly.
Today, 14,388 students are taking courses from Lamar and more than 75,000 alumni hold a Lamar degree. The university is now classified as a doctoral research university by the Carnegie Foundation, one of 29 public universities with this designation in the nation. Lamar’s tremendous growth has been balanced across disciplines on campus and online, and research funding has continued to grow as well, reaching $13 million annually.
Lamar University will host “Standing Ovation” – a celebration honoring LU President Jimmy Simmons and first lady Susan Simmons – on Saturday, March 2, in the Montagne Center. Simmons is stepping down after more than 14 years of service as president and 43 years with the university.
Activities will begin with the Lady Cardinals’ basketball game at 4 p.m. and continue with the Cardinals’ men’s game at 6 p.m. and a celebration on the arena floor afterwards. Both teams will take on the Golden Eagles of Oral Roberts University. “Standing Ovation” highlights also will include special recognitions during halftime of the men’s game.
The celebration will recognize the couple for the parts they have played in the growth and success of the university during their tenures.
Guests are being asked to wear rubber-soled shoes to the post-game reception. Admission will be by season tickets or single-game tickets for March 2 only, available for $1 online at LamarCardinals.com, from the Montagne Center Box Office at (409) 880-1715, or any area Rao’s Bakery.