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West Texas A&M University (2009)

Brief Description:

The passage of a bill in early 1909 by the Thirty-first Texas Legislature authorizing the establishment of a State normal school for the education of  teachers located somewhere "west of the ninety-eighth meridian" set off a spirited bidding war as some 25 west Texas cities and towns competed to secure the educational institution. On Sept. 9, 1909, the location committee, consisting of the speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, the lieutenant governor and the superintendent of public instruction, announced its decision. The location for the school, already named West Texas State Normal College, would be Canyon, a young community of 1,400 located near the center of the rapidly developing Texas Panhandle. Many factors were involved in the location decision, but a pledge of 40 acres of land and $100,100 in cash made Canyon's bid particularly attractive. Although not mentioned in the official report, the city's lack of saloons also strengthened its case.

President's Quote:

"In 2009, we began a celebration worthy of 100 years of educational excellence with the kick off of WTAMU’s Centennial. The reflection of an entire century has reminded us all the more of our roots and purpose. As our journey continues into the next 100 years, we will be ready to give everything of ourselves that is necessary to ensure the prevailing legacy of WTAMU.

Our Centennial year is off to a roaring start, and 2010 promises to be a year of joyful celebration. Much is planned to recognize the astonishingly hard work that it has taken to bring us into our outstanding second century.

From the day classes began through today, WT’s responsibility to provide student centered educational opportunities which lead to the economic, cultural and social development of the Texas Panhandle and the entire West Texas Region has not diminished, and the University’s commitment to meeting this responsibility has not wavered." -- President J. Patrick O’Brien 


Fun Facts:

  • The University has experienced five name changes:  West Texas State Normal College, 1910-1923; West Texas State Teachers College, 1923-1949; West Texas State College, 1949-1963; West Texas State University 1963-1990; and West Texas A&M University 1990-present.
  • West Texas A&M University became a member of The Texas A&M University System Sept. 1, 1990.

  • Georgia O’Keeffe, one of America’s greatest artists, was on the WT faculty from 1916-1918. Although she wasn’t at WT long, the sunsets, prairies and canyons had a profound impact on her art and her life.

  • Students selected the buffalo as the school’s mascot and purchased two calves from legendary cattleman Charles Goodnight in 1922.

  • >WT’s first president was Robert Barlow Cousins, 1910-1918. He was followed by Joseph A. Hill, 1918-1948; James P. Cornette, 1948-1972; Lloyd I. Watkins, 1972-1977; Max Sherman 1977-1982; Gail Shannon, 1982-1984; Ed. D. Roach, 1984-1989; Barry B. Thompson, 1990-1994; Russell C. Long, 1995-2005; J. Patrick O’Brien, 2005-present.

  • Fifty percent of all college graduates living in the Texas Panhandle received their degrees from West Texas A&M University.

  • History Professor Dr. Marty Kuhlman has written a book about the WT’s first century in honor of the upcoming Centennial.

  • The Pedestrian Mall features a larger than life size marble sculpture of a buffalo and calf titled “The Original Texans” by Taos N.M., artist Doug Scott.

  • West Texas A&M University’s Alternative Energy Institute, founded in 1977, is the state’s main information resource on wind energy.

  • WT was home to “The World’s Tallest Basketball Team” for several years in the 1940’s.


Notable Alumni:

  • Stan Hansen, professional wrestler
  • Tully Blanchard, professional wrestler
  • Ulane Bonnel, naval historian
  • Ted DiBiase, professional wrestler
  • Candace Camp, author
  • Maurice Cheeks, NBA basketball player and coach
  • Larry Combest, politician
  • Jesse Cross, US Army general
  • Dory Funk Jr., professional wrestler
  • Terry Funk, professional wrestler
  • J. Evetts Haley, historian and political activist
  • Alondra Johnson, Canadian Football League football player
  • Steve Kragthorpe, college football head coach
  • Buddy Knox, recording artist
  • Reggie McElroy, NFL American football player
  • Jerry Logan, NFL American football player
  • Mercury Morris, NFL American football player
  • Georgia O'Keeffe, artist (faculty member)
  • Kareem Larrimore, NFL American football player
  • Anita Thigpen Perry, First Lady of Texas
  • Donald Powell, former Chairman of the FDIC and Current Federal Coordinator of Gulf Coast Rebuilding
  • Dusty Rhodes, professional wrestler
  • Bruce Robison, hit country songwriter ("Travelin' Soldier", Angry All The Time, Desperately) and singer
  • Marsha Sharp, women's basketball coach
  • Stanley T. Sigman, AT&T Mobility CEO
  • John T. Smithee, Texas state representative since 1985
  • Tito Santana (Merced Solis), professional wrestler
  • Red Steagall, country singer and Western poet
  • French Stewart, actor
  • Duane Thomas, NFL American football player
  • Chaun Thompson, NFL American football player
  • John Ayers, NFL American football player



“As a scholarship recipient, I was able to connect with the people that provided me with my education. I think something like that is a really unique experience that I don’t think you get at most universities.” — Stephanie Fowler, Dec. ‘09 

“Attending WT was one of the most important experiences of my life. I made lifelong friends, discovered what my true interests were, and learned the right way to transition from a student to the professional world.” — Darcy Lively, May ‘99 

“As a WTAMU College of Business graduate, I was given the tools to know how to own my own business, and now the MBA Online Program has made obtaining my masters degree while I run my business a possibility.”— Angela Corpening, Dec. ‘06 


  • Kellee Edmonds
    Vice President of Communications and Public Relations
    (202) 478-4662