History Timeline

Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas 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.

Mirabeau B. Lamar


In 1951, the school became Lamar State College of Technology, a state-supported four-year institution, 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 1970s, the university began operating branch campuses in Port Arthur and Orange, which later became separate institutions. During the 1980s, the university was part of the Lamar University System.

Lamar University joined The Texas State University System in 1995. Under the leadership of President Emeritus James M. Simmons, who served from 1999 to 2013, the university experienced another period of significant growth adding a host of facilities to improve campus life, attracting generous donations from alumni and friends and prestigious research grants to improve scholarship and teaching, while setting repeated enrollment records. LU is a recognized leader in online education and has been designated as a Doctoral Research University by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

The University welcomed its 15th president, Kenneth R. Evans, to the top post July 1, 2013.

LU Timeline

LU Timeline - Making History since 1923

1923

LU was initially founded as South Park Junior College, named Lamar College in 1932 and then Lamar State College of Technology in 1949 before becoming Lamar University in 1971.

1932

When South Park Junior College became Lamar College, the cardinal mascot was born and called Big Red.

1942

Originally LU was housed in a building three blocks to our west in the South Park Neighborhood but with land purchased from Texaco Co. for $18,000, a new campus developed and currently stands at 292 acres

1954

“You’ll always be our glorious Lamar” is the ending line in the Lamar University Alma Mater, written by Professor Gilbert Rhodes Smartt.

1952

The first fraternity was the Kappa Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega with the initial sororities, Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Delta Pi, Delta Zeta and Kappa Delta, welcoming their inaugural members in 1956.

1958

Billy Tubbs graduated with his degree in physical education and served as a head basketball coach at the college level for more than four decades, including 16 years as the coach of the Cardinals.

1960

To coordinate with the cardinal mascot, LU adopted red and white as the official school color scheme.

1970

Recipient of the 2009 Texas Medal of Arts and called a “Poet of the Ordinary” by the Los Angeles Times, Keith Carter went on to become a world-renowned photographer and currently holds the Endowed Walles Chair of Performing Arts at Lamar University.

1976

Joe Tortorice, who earned his MBA in 1971 at LU, founded Deli Management, the parent company of Jason’s Deli, which today has more than 275 locations in 28 states.

1984

The $13 million, 10,080-seat center, named for the late regent A.H. Montagne is the largest single-construction building in LU’s history.

1989

Lamar University became an inaugural member of the Texas Space Grant Consortium as part of the National Space Grant Consortia funded by NASA.

2003

Don Rollins, the singer and songwriter who graduated from LU in 1983, has his hit “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” sung by Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett.

2010

After a 21-year hiatus, Lamar University relaunched its football program at the 16,000-seat Provost Umphrey Stadium

2019

Cardinal Nation is represented by more than 90,000 Lamar University alumni worldwide with the number growing by a few thousand every year.