Huston-Tillotson University History
The roots of Tillotson College date back to 1875 and build upon work of the Freedmen’s Aid Society of the American Missionary Association of the Congregational churches (now United Church of Christ). Chartered in 1877 as Tillotson Collegiate and Normal Institute, the school began classes on January 17, 1881. Many of Tillotson’s first students had no prior formal education. However, the eager students, who numbered 100 by the end of the first year, understood that their admission to Tillotson made them among the elect of their race and placed upon them the responsibility to enrich others through the skills they would derive from their education.
On June 2, 1909, a new charter was issued and the school was renamed Tillotson College, a “normal school” for the training of teachers for the black community. The school was reorganized in 1925 as a junior college; in 1926 as a women’s college; and again in 1931 as a senior, co-educational institution. Renowned for its departments of education and music, the college received class A accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1943.
Samuel Huston College
In 1876, the Reverend George Warren Richardson, a Methodist minister from Minnesota, leased St. Paul Methodist Episcopal Church of Dallas, Texas, as the site for a school for the African American youth of the city. In 1878, the school was moved to Austin, Texas, and housed in what is now Wesley United Methodist Church.
As was the case with Tillotson College, Samuel Huston underwent various configurations throughout its developmental years. Before the end of its first year, the fledgling school had been adopted by the West Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and renamed Andrews Normal College in honor of a church leader. In December of 1887, however, Samuel Huston, a farmer from Marengo, Iowa, donated property estimated to be worth $10,000, with the understanding that the school would bear his name. Samuel Huston College was chartered in 1910 as a private educational corporation under the laws of Texas. In 1926, it was approved as a senior college by the State of Texas Department of Education and in 1934 was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Throughout the history of Samuel Huston College and Tillotson College, moral and religious instruction undergirded the curriculum at both institutions. The schools also contributed significantly to the social and civic life of Austin’s black citizens. Located less than one mile apart in East Austin, the institutions enjoyed healthy competition and rivalry in athletic programs, cooperation in student activities, and collegial relationships among the faculty, staff, and students. These features became distinguishing traits of the two campuses, while the corresponding commitment to community service affirmed the institutions’ concept of the responsibilities that befell educated persons.
However, despite periods of relative prosperity, neither college enjoyed a wealth of material or financial resources. Consequently, and because of their mutual interests, values, and constituencies, the trustees of Samuel Huston College and Tillotson College met jointly on January 26, 1952, and agreed to detailed plans for merging the two institutions on the site (then known as “Bluebonnet Hill”) of Tillotson College. The merger was consummated, and the new Charter of Incorporation for Huston-Tillotson College was signed on October 24, 1952. The merged institutions adopted “In union, strength” as their motto.
Following the merger, Huston-Tillotson College became the sole provider of higher education for African-Americans in Central Texas until the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which launched the period of desegregation. Today the College continues to both honor and foster its relationship with its founding denominations as well as its ethnic heritage.
On February 28, 2005, the institution advanced its mission further by changing the name to Huston-Tillotson University.