The History of Texas Southmost College

Historical PhotoTexas Southmost College was initially created in 1926 as The Junior College of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.  

Originally created as an extension of the local independent school district in Brownsville, Texas, its first classes were held in the fall of 1926 in the local high school building. In 1927, the school district issued bonds for the construction of a new building to house the high school and the junior college. In 1931, the college name was changed to the Brownsville Junior College. In 1948, the U.S. Government conveyed Fort Brown, the first military post established by the U.S. Government in Texas, to the College, where the main campus is today. 

Voters approved the creation of the Southmost Union Junior College District (empowered to levy ad valorem taxes), as well as a Board of Trustees, at an election held on November 15, 1949, to operate a junior college to be known as Texas Southmost College. The Southmost Union Junior College District Board of Trustees changed the name of the District to Texas Southmost College in 2004. During the 82nd Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, SB 1909, included language changing the college district's name from the Southmost Union College District to Texas Southmost College District.  

While originally established as an academic program institution, after World War II and throughout the 1950s, the college began to add and expand vocational and occupational program offerings. In 1973, Texas Southmost College offered space on its campus so that a local four-year extension program through Pan American University could be established. The new entity, which was named Pan American University–Brownsville, began classes in fall 1973. In the late 1980s, Pan American University joined The University of Texas System and its institution in Brownsville became known as The University of Texas Pan American-Brownsville. 

In 1986, the voters of the Texas Southmost College taxing district approved a $13 million bond issue to construct a classroom building, a library, and other campus improvements. 

In May 1991, the Texas Legislature created The University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB) as an upper-division university, to replace The University of Texas Pan American-Brownsville, and authorized it to enter into an agreement with Texas Southmost College to teach courses not offered at the university. This resulted in the creation of a new umbrella entity for the two institutions officially formulated as "The University of Texas at Brownsville-Texas Southmost College Agreement." Under the agreement, the Texas Southmost College Board of Trustees contracted with The University of Texas System to deliver all academic programs and services, previously offered by TSC, utilizing TSC's existing campus and facilities. In turn, TSC would pay the UTB for delivery of such programs and services by transferring all TSC-related tuition, fees, program income, and state appropriations funding to the UTB. The UTB was defined as the operating entity and several agreements were established, including those relating to the leasing of TSC buildings to the UTB, personnel, programs, and services. Hence, students of both higher education institutions were brought under a single entity: "The UTB-TSC Agreement." 

In December 1995, The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) approved the consolidation of UTB and TSC to form the new entity, the University of Texas at Brownsville Texas Southmost College Agreement. In December 2008, UTB-TSC was granted reaffirmation by SACSCOC.  

The UTB-TSC Agreement has been governed by the nine-member Board of Regents of the UT System since 1991. The Texas Southmost College Board of Trustees, however, remained intact and continued as a seven-member board elected at large from the ad valorem taxing district of the College. The TSC Board of Trustees retained its authority to levy and collect taxes, manage the assets of the College and monitor performance under the UTB-TSC Agreement. A separate administrative office to support the Board of Trustees was maintained by TSC throughout the term of the UTB-TSC Agreement. 

The University of Texas at Brownsville was defined as the operating entity of the UTB-TSC Agreement. Its president served as the president of UTB-TSC, with reporting responsibilities to The University of Texas System Board of Regents and the TSC Board of Trustees. Additionally, when the agreement was consummated, TSC employees ended employment with TSC and became UTB employees. Thus, the UTB employed all faculty and staff throughout the term of the UTB-TSC Agreement. The UTB also became the reservoir of data. 

On November 2, 2004, voters in the Texas Southmost College taxing district approved a $68 million dollar bond package for TSC building projects, including the Arts Center, under the oversight of the UTB-TSC Agreement. 

On November 10, 2010, the Board of Regents of the University of Texas System voted to terminate the UTB-TSC Agreement. On February 17, 2011, the Texas Southmost College Board of Trustees voted to develop a model and create legislation whereby TSC would partner with the UT System for use of campus resources and facilities while having two (2) autonomous institutions: Texas Southmost College and the University of Texas at Brownsville. Efforts to develop a model favoring independent operation and governance resulted in the creation of enabling legislation approved by the 83rd Texas Legislature, which provided for the termination of the existing UTB-TSC Agreement on or before August 31, 2015, dependent upon the accreditation of Texas Southmost College. 

In October 2011, the Texas Southmost College Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Lily F. Tercero to serve as TSC's next president. Dr. Tercero managed the activities related to the termination of the UTB-TSC Agreement and re-launched Texas Southmost College as an autonomous degree granting public community college.

Texas Southmost College became independently operational in fall 2013 and began to serve the communities of Cameron and Willacy counties.

In August 2015, the SACSCOC On-Site Visiting Committee visited Texas Southmost College to complete its review of the institution’s compliance with all accreditation requirements.

In fall 2015, Texas Southmost College was selected as a Bright Spot by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

On December 8, 2015, the SACSCOC announced the decision to award separate accreditation to Texas Southmost College at the 2015 SACSCOC Annual Meeting in Houston.

In August 2016, Mike Shannon was appointed Interim President of Texas Southmost College by the TSC Board of Trustees. During this time, TSC returned to its legacy colors of Orange and Navy Blue, that included a redesign of the college’s logo, and began a rebranding campaign.

On April 3, 2017, Texas Southmost College, in collaboration with consultant Dr. Byron McClenney, launched a national search for a new president. After the national search and a series of open forums were conducted, the TSC Board of Trustees announced on July 20, 2017, that Dr. Jesus Roberto Rodriguez was selected as the new TSC President.

In fall 2017, Texas Southmost College began the strategic planning process to set the future direction for the college to ensure the long-term viability of TSC, the students, and the community.

In August 2018, Texas Southmost College implemented the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan that identified five goals that will provide the college its strategic direction for the next five years.

Under the leadership of the Texas Southmost College Board of Trustees and Dr. Rodriguez, TSC continues to experience growth and to establish relationships with the communities that it serves, to create new partnerships with local, regional and state educational institutions, business and industry, and to be an engine of economic development and workforce training in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.