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Dr. James Hurley, the 16th President of Tarleton State University, is leading the institution to unprecedented heights.
He oversaw the creation and launch of Tarleton Forward 2030: Our Future-Focused Strategic Plan, a blueprint for becoming the premier comprehensive regional university in the nation, with a keen focus on student success, teaching and research.
His signature initiatives include strategic enrollment growth, innovative student funding models, degree completion, vigorous partnerships with high schools and community colleges, enhancing research and innovation, improving operational efficiency, strengthening partnerships with businesses and community stakeholders, and uniting the campus on a bold trajectory featuring the university’s largest-ever capital campaign.
Tarleton State is one of the fastest growing public universities in the nation. President Hurley’s cultivation of broad and deep connections across Texas has resulted in a student body with the third highest number of Texas counties represented, only behind the two Lone Star flagship institutions. He spearheads efforts to address the rapid growth in the state’s workforce needs and serves on several governing boards pertaining to economic development and public policy.
The university is celebrating all-time-high enrollment, both undergraduate and graduate students, and the Class of 2024 is its largest, most diverse group of incoming first-time students. To undergird the academic quality of these students, Dr. Hurley created the Distinguished High School Partners Program and Distinguished College Partnership Program, significantly increased funding for the President’s Guaranteed Award and started the President’s List to honor 4.0 GPA scholars.
In 2019 he advanced Tarleton State to NCAA Division I status as a member of the Western Athletic Conference. He was instrumental in the league’s expansion and in re-establishing championship subdivision (FCS) football in the WAC.
President Hurley challenges the university to innovate, discover and deliver exceptional experiences leading to student success. During his tenure, Tarleton has increased research and scholarship opportunities for faculty and students. He established and secured funding to launch the Center for Research, Innovation and Economic Development and the Texas Rural Research and Innovation Alliance.
A lifetime educator, Dr. Hurley has served as instructor, professor, dean, vice president and president, with extensive experience at comprehensive higher education institutions. Prior to joining Tarleton, he was President at Tusculum University in Greeneville, Tenn. Under his leadership, Tusculum added its University Health Center; College of Health Sciences; College of Science, Technology and Math; and Niswonger College of Optometry.
He holds a doctorate in education from Morehead State University, a master’s degree from Indiana University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pikeville in Pikeville, Ky. He completed the Institute for Presidential Leadership at Harvard University and received a certificate of higher education management from Vanderbilt University.
He and his wife, Kindall, are the proud parents of sons Drew and Carter and daughters Blayklee and Brooklyn.
Tarleton State University’s 16th First Lady, Kindall Hurley, takes an active role in supporting her husband’s vision to see the school become the premier comprehensive regional institution in the nation. She is an enthusiastic Tarleton ambassador, whether hosting activities at the Hurley home — the Trogdon House in the heart of the Stephenville campus — attending community and university events, or raising funds for the Tarleton Forever Capital Campaign.
A champion for education, Mrs. Hurley is passionate about students and their success and well-being. She earned her MBA at the University of Tennessee, and she completed a master’s in educational leadership and a specialist degree in educational administration at Lincoln Memorial University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from East Tennessee State University.
Her professional career involved elementary education and pediatric healthcare. She has served on numerous boards for educational, community health, health advocacy and nonprofit organizations.
Today Mrs. Hurley devotes her time to caring for her family — her husband, Tarleton President James Hurley, and children Drew, Carter, Blayklee and Brooklyn — and diligently serving as Tarleton’s First Lady. Faith is important to her, and she enjoys spending time with Tarleton's students, faculty, staff, alumni and the Texan community.
For most of a century Tarleton State University’s Trogdon House has been a hub of activity and tradition in Stephenville.
The two-story building, a stately 4,500 square feet, sits at the heart of the campus, between the O.A Grant Building, the E.J. Howell Education Building and the Dick Smith Library.
Built in 1923, it has housed university presidents starting with its builder and architect, Dean J. Thomas Davis, who shared the dwelling with his family until he turned over the reins of power in 1948.
Construction was overseen by Davis and involved primarily student labor, which kept costs low — about $8,000. Students and local workers were paid from 25 to 62 1/2 cents per hour.
A local newspaper announcing the project described the structure.
“Besides the student labor, whereby many boys have earned enough to place them in school for the coming term, many local men have been used. The material for the dean’s home has, to a large extent been native stone. This, of course will be stuccoed and plastered, but will in the end be a very substantial building and help materially the appearance of the campus.”
The house features two full stories and an attic with 18-inch exterior walls built up with several layers of concrete plaster.
Dean E.J. Howell and his family moved into the house in 1948 and over the years added a garage, a breezeway, a screened porch and central heating and air. The home’s namesake, Dr. W.O. Trogdon, came to Tarleton in 1966 for a 16-year stay.
Soon after the Trogdons left, a university master plan stipulated the historic structure be torn down, or at least relocated.
Tarleton’s student government, university alumni and the Erath County Historical Society intervened and gained Historical Landmark status for the aging building, giving it new life.
Saved from demolition, the structure was renovated in 1995, and in 1999 The Texas A&M University System approved the name Trogdon House in recognition of the last family to occupy it.
Once named the Hall of Presidents, the Trogdon House has been home to various administrative offices, including Student Services, University News Service, the Alumni Association, the Office of Development and the Tarleton Foundation, Inc.
In 2009 more than $760,000 in upgrades made the house ready to again serve its original purpose, and Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio and his family returned the president’s residence to campus.
A driving force behind the restoration was legendary alumnus Col. Will Tate, Class of 1935.
“The Trogdon House is somewhat of a spiritual place,” he said during the 2009 remodeling. “It links the past of Tarleton with its future, and I was honored to play a role in the preservation of this wonderful place.”
Now home to the family of President James Hurley, Trogdon House hosts campus and community functions.