Honorary Doctorates, New Degree Programs Top Board of Regents Meeting

Authorization to award honorary doctorates of humane letters to longtime supporters Dr. Lamar and Marilynn T. Johanson and to seek approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for six new academic degree programs, including a PhD in counseling, top Tarleton’s list of action items at today’s Board of Regents meeting.

The programs:

  • Bachelor of Science in biotechnology
  • Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity
  • Bachelor of Science in horticulture and plant sciences
  • Master of Arts in teacher education
  • Master of Science in agricultural economics

Each degree brings us closer to being the best comprehensive regional university in the country. Each strengthens our commitment to preparing students for 22nd-century careers and meeting the professional workforce needs of North Central Texas.

Only seven other Texas universities offer a PhD in counseling. Part of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services, the new doctorate will prepare graduates as advanced practitioners, educators and researchers, trained to overcome rural challenges in mental health, substance abuse and addiction.

Few people are as deserving of honorary doctorates as the Johansons. They have put their heart and soul into public education for more than six decades. Dr. Johanson’s 40 years at Tarleton started in 1961 as an instructor in the Department of Biological Sciences, the same year Marilynn was hired to teach vocational home economics at Hico High School.

In addition to their distinguished leadership and service, the two bleed purple and white, continuing to attend and volunteer at Tarleton athletic and academic events. Everyone — include me in this — loves and appreciates Lamar and Marilynn.

They will be honored at the 3 p.m. commencement ceremony on December 10.

In other business, the board authorized buying three tracts of land, with improvements, on FM 3025 — the new home for Tarleton’s acclaimed rodeo program — and property at 1930 W. Sloan St. critical to the construction of a hotel and convocation center that will include D-I basketball facilities and provide space for indoor commencement ceremonies.

Purchasing a best-in-class covered rodeo arena and 20-stall horse barn (part of the former Downunder Horsemanship Ranch) is a much wiser investment than covering and updating our existing facility.

The regents also approved the sale of 1,166 acres of Hunewell Ranch southwest of Stephenville. Dennis Hunewell, director of the university’s esteemed Military Band from the early 1920s to 1942, gifted the ranch to Tarleton to provide scholarships, instruments and uniforms for band students.

Over the last decade, yearly revenue from leasing the property has dipped below $25,000. We will turn proceeds from the sale into an endowment that should generate about $300,000 annually to benefit our nationally recognized band program.

We will keep the portion of Hunewell Ranch that is home to our observatory.

I wish you the best as we near the holiday season. Enjoy your time with family and friends, and let’s all return in 2022 with renewed joy and hope.

Bleed purple and roll, Texans!

Dr. James Hurley
Tarleton State University
Box T-0001
Stephenville, Texas 76402