San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas



by REEVE HAMILTON

Texas State University-San Marcos will get a new name — again — as a result of a bill passed by state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, during the regular session.

The passage of Senate Bill 974 will provide the institution its seventh name since it was originally founded in 1903.

Initially called Southwest Texas State Normal School, the final word in the name was changed to “College” in 1918. Then, “Normal” became “Teachers” in 1923. The name was shortened to Southwest Texas State College in 1959, and then “College” became “University” in 1969. In 2003, the “Southwest” was dropped and “-San Marcos” was tacked onto the end.

Now, starting Sept. 1, the new official name for Texas State University-San Marcos will be — drumroll, please — Texas State University!

It’s not the biggest change. Most people already drop the “-San Marcos” when referring to the university. But proponents of the change are hoping it will clear up current confusion about the university’s multiple locations and the potential for name changes at the system’s other universities.

Texas State President Denise Trauth said the change was needed for two reasons. First, since 2003, the school has acquired a branch campus north of Austin, which currently goes by the official name of Texas State University-San Marcos Round Rock Campus.

“That is very confusing,” Trauth observed.

In 2003, some members of the Texas State University System board of regents assumed that other universities in the system would alter their names to fit the school’s name template; for example, Sam Houston State University would become Texas State University-Huntsville. But in the intervening years, it became clear that there was little to no appetite for that. Lawmakers even passed a bill to prohibit Sam Houston State University from changing its name.

“All of the other schools in our system are named for Texas heroes,” Trauth said.

In addition to Sam Houston, the system has four institutions named for former Republic of Texas President Mirabeau Lamar — Lamar University, Lamar Institute of Technology, Lamar State College-Orange and Lamar State College-Port Arthur — and two campuses — Sul Ross State University and Sul Ross State University Rio Grande College — named for former Texas Gov. Sul Ross, who was also a general in the Confederate army.

Dropping the final two words of their current name will not cause the university to incur any significant financial costs, Trauth said. Existing business cards and stationary will be used up, and campus signage can be altered without being completely replaced.

The change isn’t expected to cost the school any good will, either. Trauth said that unlike previous changes, she had not heard any complaints about the latest one.

“It wasn’t like when we dropped ‘Southwest.’ That was a big deal, no question about it,” she said. “Now, I think everybody is happy, but at the time, there was considerable discussion among our alum. But I’m not picking up any of that this time.”

The noncontroversial nature of the change was also helpful to Campbell. The name-changing bill was the first one she passed as a member of the Texas Senate.

Traditionally, freshman lawmakers are hazed by their colleagues when attempting to pass their first piece of legislation, but Campbell was hopeful she could avoid it.

“I thought it would be a no-hazing kind of deal,” she said. “I thought, what can they do to me on this?”

She found out when the bill went through committee. Campbell was asked to sing the university’s fight song — and she didn’t know it.

By the time bill reached the Senate floor, she had learned the song and was prepared. The expected hazing occurred, and she described it as “quite spirited and quite fun.” But she never actually had to sing.

“With the decorum of the Senate, we felt like it would be better if I didn’t challenge anybody with that,” she said. “Though I did put earplugs in everybody’s desk just in case.”

Just as she hopes to never go through the hazing process again, Campbell said she is confident that the university will not require another name-changing process in the future.

“I don’t really see a need to ever change it again,” Campbell said.

Trauth seemed to agree.

“I think there’s a sense that maybe this is what should have happened in the first place,” she said. “It took two steps and an extra 10 years, but we got to where we needed to get to.”

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REEVE HAMILTON reports for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is made available here through a news partnership between the Texas Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.

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18 thoughts on “Texas State officially drops ‘San Marcos’ from name

  1. That’s so dumb, how in the world would it bring less confusion, now ppl will say Texas state university where’s that at? And so if they are dropping the San Marcos what are they doing with the Round Rock branch? Will that be just Texas State University as well?? That’s confusing as hell, and to say it won’t really cost anything that’s a line of BS… So only spending about $100,000 vs $500,000 is what they consider not costing anything…. Wow and to think we trust that the school will provide a good education to others when the ones in charge are just plain stupid to put it nicely!!!

  2. campbell- she is for sale. in fact all the little wannabees in san marcos and from the area envision themselves as somebodys. well you aren’t just second rate politicians . campbell is promotoing a big ranch development in Wimberley- where are they gonna get the water ? no one knows but so what if they ruin one of the prettiest areas in Texas ?

    as for the school- I always thought Balcones University was a neat name..evoking a picture of a small neat university on the edge of a beautiful artesian spring..laid back. respectful of the environment. a hill country Rice University. Instead they opted for Tex St Univ -TSU- oh wait we don’t want that do we ???

    but dr traughth ( was she named by a sylvester cat lisper?) wants big- importing lots of mixed breeds in, crime is going up in san marcos- and again, where is the water for all the minnows coming from ?

  3. Well, now no one can say Donna Campbell is just taking up space in the Senate. This will probably go down as her major piece of legislation before she’s voted out of office.

  4. Geez, the Campbell bashing really know no bounds, does it? Even when she makes a great move as her first official act in office, the trolls are on her butt.

    This move was a slam dunk for the University and I’m surprised it didn’t happen a long time ago. The presence of the “-San Marcos” on the end of the school’s name made it sound like an extension campus instead of a major university’s main campus. Not that anyone ever actually used the “-San Marcos” anyway….

    As to Joey’s musings about the lack of a city in the school’s name – where are “Ohio State University”, “Florida State University”, or “Penn State University”? None of those schools have cities in their name, and they seem to be doing just fine – a lot better than TSU is. Yeah, we should *want* to be TSU as well. Sorry Tarleton & Texas Southern.

  5. Is there some other process the school could have gone through, for the name change? If it is stupid to have elected officials working on this stuff, then the system is to blame.

    Personally, I am going to miss “- San Marcos.” I think this is another symbolic step away from the city, when I wish the two would grow closer.

    That being said, if they want a name change, and this is the process, then I can’t fault the people involved in the process for doing their jobs.

  6. ^^^ In print, I agree with you Ted. However, TxSt doesn’t “flow” off the tongue nearly as well as TSU. I also think that the merchandising potential of TSU is far greater than TxSt. The graphic potential of TSU just seems far greater.

    That was my angle on it, anyway.

  7. yeah when it was called Southwest or Swt I got lost several times trying to find it. I was using a compass instead of a map though.

  8. If SB 974 was Campbell’s “first official act in office,” then she was pretty late out of the chute. The bills are numbered sequentially….

  9. Donna Campbell represents the decline of the Republican party. Thoughtless and rigid adherance to every plank of the platform, especially those that appease the religious right.

  10. Absolutely. The religious right was positively beside themselves clamoring for the University to change its name.

    And FWIW, I see a lot more variation from the “party platform” on the Republican side than I do on the Democrat side these days….if you’re a Dem, you either fly the Obama flag or you’re out on your butt….

  11. I should have also said that I have no problem with the name change – as far as I’m allowed to have an opinion, not being a grad. It seems perfectly logical and the appendage always felt kind of awkward.

    Instead I jumped right to the opportunity to express my disappointment with the election of Donna Campbell and the loss of Jeff Wentworth who I considered part of the dying breed of thoughtful Republicans.

    Back to the name change… I like TxState or TXST vs TSU because of the branding opportunity. Anytime you can get “Texas” or even “TX” in there, that’s a bonus in my book.

  12. And who in the world ever thought Sam Houston State University would become Texas State University-Huntsville? That may be the dumbest thing I’ve heard all day.

  13. Seems that way, Ted.

    But then again, last I heard there was still a push being made to rename Tarleton State to “Texas A&M-Stephenville” too…..so who knows.

    The only logic I can find would be that it’s a move to more clearly distinguish the three main University Systems in Texas (UT, Texas State, Texas A&M).

    The casual onlooker wouldn’t realize that Tarleton was in the A&M system, or that SHSU was in the Texas State University system.

    It works for the UT system – the “flagship” is in Austin, then you have UTSA, UTEP, UTPA, UTPB, UT-Tyler, and so on.

  14. SWT alumni were jumping out of windows over the removal of “Southwest.” I can’t even imagine what alumni would say, if someone wanted to take Sam Houston’s name off their school.

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