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Years of Transformation

Growth in sports, the arts, technology and degree programs possible because of A&M merger 

By Chip Chandler
Senior Communication Specialist

 

Thirty years ago, West Texas A&M University’s graduating seniors accepted their diplomas on a stage more than 20 miles away from campus. Football players battled on a gridiron about two miles from campus. 

Of all of the changes WT has undergone since merging with The Texas A&M University System in 1990, the addition of an on-campus football field and a major event center are among the most significant.

So, too, is the multimillion-dollar new Agricultural Sciences Complex, which houses the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences along with the new Center for Advancing Food Animal Production in the Panhandle, the Happy State Bank Academic and Research Building and the Charles W. Graham Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab and the Veterinary Education, Research and Outreach complexes.

These changes are some of the most visible ways the WT campus has transformed in the past 30 years.

“As a freshman, I recruited students to our campus by giving tours of WT through the Admissions Office,” recalled Ronnie Hall, a 1995 graduate who now works as WT’s alumni director. “While giving tours, I would always point out how beautiful our campus was — the large trees and the amazing views of Old Main. 

“Through the years, there have been many days that the dirt blew everywhere from the construction sites, but everyone would agree that the results have been worth it,” Hall said. “With the addition of more trees and beautiful landscaping, and the addition of more structures, our beautiful campus has become even more stunning.”

Buffalo Stadium, the first on-campus football stadium since 1958, is a state-of-the-art facility that features concourse-level seats, elevated club seating areas and an estimated total capacity of 12,000, including overflow and standing-room-only areas.

The First United Bank Center has seating for 5,000 and a large video screen, making it the perfect location for commencement exercises and a host of other public events — both for WT and for outside users.

Other major additions to campus include new residence halls Buff Hall, Centennial Hall and Jarrett Hall; the Charles K. and Barbara Kerr Vaughn Pedestrian Mall and Hayward Spirit Tower; and the Sybil B. Harrington Fine Arts Complex, which features state-of-the-art radio and television studios, a 304-seat Branding Iron Theatre, the Happy State Bank Studio black box theatre, an acting studio, recital hall, music studios and choir rehearsal rooms. 

WT’s footprint in neighboring Amarillo has grown, too, with the opening of the Harrington Academic Hall WTAMU Amarillo Center in downtown Amarillo. It offers select upper-level and graduate classes in a location favorable to the communities and employers of Amarillo.

The University also has established, in the past three decades, the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, the School of Music, the College of Engineering, and the Center for Learning Disabilities, as well as new programs in agricultural media and in civil and environmental engineering, master’s degree programs in education and social work, and doctoral degree programs in agriculture and educational leadership.