Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas

By: Connie S. Andes

Type: General Entry

Published: March 1, 1995

Prompted by increasing disparity in tuition between public and private institutions of higher education and recognizing the need for involvement in public policy issues, McGruder E. Sadler, chancellor of Texas Christian University, invited several presidents of private colleges and universities to a meeting in Fort Worth on December 30, 1964. The group formed an association and elected Sadler president, John D. Moseley, president of Austin College, secretary, and Abner V. McCall, president of Baylor University, vice president for legislation. These officers incorporated the organization as a trade association under Texas law on April 16, 1965. Although the founders sought to promote the welfare of independent institutions, the first stated purpose was to further interests of the total system of Texas higher education, both public and private. Officials of Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, Incorporated, invited nonprofit, private, accredited institutions of higher education to membership. By the first annual meeting, held in Houston in 1965, twenty-six colleges and universities were paying dues. Since 1969 all eligible institutions-about forty-have joined ICUT. In 1984 the members clarified requirements, stipulating that only multipurpose independent institutions where a majority of students pursue associate or baccalaureate degrees are eligible for membership. Outstanding leaders in the early years were John D. Moseley, Abner Y. McCall, and James Moudy, chancellor of Texas Christian University. Norman Hackerman, president of Rice University and former president of the University of Texas at Austin, served as president or board chairman from 1974 until 1985. Following his resignation, leadership involved some of the smaller institutions. The board chairman in 1991 was George Rupp, president of Rice University.

Until 1982, when ICUT hired a full-time executive, the organization was heavily dependent upon volunteer leadership. Beginning in 1967, officers served as an advisory committee to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. They contributed to the first master plan for Texas higher education a comprehensive study on the private colleges and universities, Pluralism and Partnership: The Case for the Dual System of Higher Education (1968). The study predicted a doubtful future for the private sector unless the state assisted. In 1969 ICUT contracted for a year of administrative services with J. Stewart Allen, who had directed the study and was also executive director of the Association of Texas Colleges and Universities. To implement a legislative program, in 1970 ICUT hired Robert D. Hunter, a vice president of Abilene Christian College. A result of that program was the enactment in 1971 of the Tuition Equalization Grant, which provided funds to students with need who met residency requirements and wanted to attend a Texas private institution of higher education. Hunter, who retained his position at Abilene Christian College, was executive vice president part-time for ICUT from 1971 to 1981. Assisted by presidents of member institutions who headed commissions in a number of areas related to ICUT's interests, Hunter established headquarters in Abilene except during legislative sessions, when activities centered in Austin. The ICUT Research Foundation, formed in 1976, assisted in public policy research. One study, Advancing Partnership: A Study of Governmental Policy for Student Financial Aid in Independent Higher Education in Texas, contributed to 1979 modifications of the Tuition Equalization Grant. In 1982, because of increasing demands upon the organization and resignations of key leaders, ICUT hired a full-time executive, Carol L. McDonald. Members also disbanded the commission system and decreased the board of directors. McDonald centralized staff functions in Austin and in May 1982 established offices in the Westgate Building on Colorado Street. During the 1970s, seeking appropriations for the Tuition Equalization Grant was ICUT's specific focus; advocating increased student financial aid for all Texas students was a comprehensive thrust that has continued. After McDonald became president, the organization addressed a wider range of issues to protect the autonomy of independent institutions and to promote equity with public institutions.

In addition to public policy concerns, ICUT provided services to members. Throughout the 1970s the organization sponsored summer workshops that were professional growth opportunities for staff members. The ICUT Report, a quarterly newsletter, began in 1973, and an annual booklet describing member institutions, Your Guide to Independent Higher Education in Texas, first appeared in 1975. The 1980s brought increased services, including an insurance program, purchasing agreements, a minority-recruitment program, and the appearance of two in-house newsletters in 1983 and 1988-ICUT Legislative Week and ICUT Legislative Report. Other organizations with which ICUT maintains cooperative relations are the Association of Texas Colleges and Universities, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas legislature, the Texas Independent College Fund, and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

Stephen P. Anderson, A Political Analysis of the Texas Tuition Equalization Grant Program (M.A. thesis, Southwest Texas State University, 1989). Connie Sue Andes, Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, Inc., 1965–1990 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, 1991).
  • Education
  • Organizations
  • Associations
  • Societies

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

Connie S. Andes, “Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 17, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 1995