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UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS. The University of St. Thomas, a coeducational Catholic university in the Montrose area of Houston, was founded in 1947 by the Basilian Fathers, a congregation of priests devoted to teaching. The university was established at the request of the bishop of Galveston-Houston, Christopher E. Byrne, and opened on September 22, 1947, with a freshman class of forty students and a faculty of eight. It offers a principally undergraduate liberal arts curriculum with an emphasis on Judaeo-Christian values and a course of study in which theology and philosophy are of prime importance. More than half the student body is Catholic, but the university is open to all religious faiths. The university added a School of Theology in 1968, with a program leading to the master of divinity degree for students at St. Mary's Seminary. A master of religious education degree was added in 1969, followed by a master of arts in theology in 1982. In 1972 the School of Nursing was established with the cooperation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. In 1978 the School of Education, with a program leading to the M.Ed. degree, was added, and in 1979 the Cameron School of Business, offering an M.B.A. degree, was established. A center for Thomistic Studies, with M.A. and Ph.D. programs in philosophy, was founded in 1979, and a Center for International Studies was begun in 1981. The physical plant has grown from the original building, the T. P. Lee mansion at 3812 Montrose Boulevard, to a fifteen-acre campus with thirty-six buildings. The plan of the university and several of the buildings was designed by architect Philip Johnson after the plan of the University of Virginia. Buildings besides classroom structures include a library, a chapel, a residence hall, a student center, a theater, a concert hall, and an athletic center. About 50 percent of the university's income is provided by tuition and fees; government grants supply 14 percent, and the remainder comes from endowment, private grants, and gifts. Accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools came in 1954, and the university was later approved by the Texas Education Agency for certification of elementary and secondary schoolteachers. In 1974 the nursing school was accredited by the National League for Nursing. By the 1980s the University of St. Thomas had an enrollment of over 2,000, including an undergraduate body of 1,500, and a full-time faculty of 115, with seventy part-time instructors. Enrollment in 1999–2000 school year was 2,774; the faculty numbered 235.

The university is divided into four schools: the School of Education, the Cameron School of Business, the School of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Theology. It also operates centers for business ethics, international studies, faith and culture, and Thomistic studies. The university also supports a community learning center at Helms Elementary School through a partnership with the Houston Independent School District and the Shell Oil Company, and offers a summer academy in conjunction with Reagan High School. The university opened the School for Young Children, a laboratory school, in 1975; it became a program for children with language and learning disabilities in 1983. The university sponsors several programs of study abroad, including summer programs in England, France, Ireland, and Mexico; semester exchange programs in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Ireland, Mexico, and Spain; and a program with Edgehill University College and the Council on International Exchange Education. Doherty Library on the St. Thomas campus maintains a collection of 200,000 volumes, including the special collections of the Hugh Roy Marshall Graduate Philosophy Library, which are devoted to the study of the teachings and philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. The Cardinal Beran Library on the St. Mary's Seminary campus provides a 50,000-volume collection for graduate students in theology. The development office of the university publishes the University of St. Thomas Magazine, a semiannual journal of university and alumni affairs. The music, drama, and fine arts departments offer public concerts, plays, and exhibits throughout the year. Various other programs such as the B. K. Smith Lectures in History, the Lee Lectures in English, and the Aquinas Lectures in Philosophy are also open to the public. The university is governed by a fifteen-member board of directors, at least three of whom must be Basilian priests, and an advisory board of twenty-five trustees. Rev. J. Michael Miller became president in 1997.


Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Virginia Bernhard


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Virginia Bernhard, "UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 01, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.