Methodist Education

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: June 4, 2020

Methodist higher education in Texas began with the establishment of Rutersville College, the first Protestant college in Texas, in 1840. The college was named for Martin Ruter and authorized by the Republic of Texas. In 1875 it merged with three other colleges to form Southwestern University, an institution supported by the Methodist Church, in Georgetown. After 1840 the number of Methodist colleges increased rapidly. Two other early ones were Alexander Institute, later Lon Morris College, and Blinn Memorial College, which became county-supported in 1934. Westmoorland College, the original Methodist-owned San Antonio Female College in 1860, became the University of San Antonio in 1937; it later became a part of the Presbyterian-supported Trinity University. The number of Methodist colleges declined during the twentieth century. Many were absorbed into larger institutions, some were merged, and a number were closed. Consolidation increased during the Great Depression and World War II, and by 1969 only nine Methodist-supported educational institutions remained. Their total enrollment for the 1968–69 term was 15,747 students. Only four institutions have enrollments of more than 1,000 students. Texas Wesleyan College in Fort Worth was founded in 1891 as Polytechnic College, and in the 1992 fall term its enrollment was 2,340. Southern Methodist University, established in 1911, was the result of attempts to found a Methodist educational institution in a metropolitan area. The university is the largest Methodist educational institution in Texas; in the 1992 fall term it enrolled 8,978 students. As of 1992, McMurry University, founded in 1923 in Abilene, was the youngest of the senior colleges supported by the Methodist Church in Texas. With 1,522 students in the fall of 1992, it ranked as the third-largest Methodist college in the state. Southwestern University had an enrollment of 1,239 in the 1992 fall term. In addition to colleges, the Methodist Church established many small secondary schools in the past century in small communities. As public secondary education developed in Texas, many church schools changed into special-purpose schools, such as college preparatory, or else they ceased to function. See also HIGHER EDUCATION.

Olin W. Nail, ed., History of Texas Methodism, 1900–1960 (Austin, 1961).

  • Religion
  • Methodist
  • Education

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

Anonymous, “Methodist Education,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 05, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 4, 2020