Lamar Institute of Technology traces its roots back to March 8, 1923, when the South Park School District in Beaumont authorized its superintendent to proceed with plans to open a “junior college of the first class.” On September 17, 1923, South Park Junior College opened with 125 students and a faculty of 14.
Located on the third floor of the South Park High School building, the college shared the library and athletic facilities with the high school. In 1932, separate facilities were provided. The name of the institution changed to Lamar College, honoring Mirabeau B. Lamar, second president of the Republic of Texas and the “Father of Education” in Texas.
As a result of a public campaign, a new campus was purchased and on June 8, 1942, classes met for the first time on the present-day campus in Beaumont. After World War II, the college grew to 1,079 and a bill to make Lamar a state-supported senior college was introduced in the House of Representatives.
The legislature approved the Lamar bill (House Bill 52) on June 4, 1949, creating Lamar State College of Technology effective September 1, 1951. Lamar was the first junior college in Texas to become a four-year, state-supported college. Uniquely, Lamar retained much of its traditional community college mission, particularly in vocational programs. It continued to grow, with strong programs in engineering, sciences, business and education.
In 1962 a graduate school was established, offering master’s degrees in several fields. The Doctorate in Engineering was established in 1971. That same year House Bill 590 became law, changing the institution’s status to university. Lamar State College of Technology, with an enrollment of 10,874, officially became Lamar University on August 23, 1971.
Vocational subjects were among the first courses offered and played an important role in the development of Lamar. A Division of Vocations was established in 1946 and became the Lamar School of Vocations in 1955. In 1970, the name was changed to the School of Technical Arts, and in 1972 it became the College of Technical Arts. During 1971, the college began awarding Associate of Applied Science degrees in some two-year programs.
In 1969 an extension center was opened in Orange, and in 1975 the longtime private, two-year Port Arthur College became Lamar University at Port Arthur. The Lamar University System was established by the 68th Session of the Texas Legislature with the passage of SB 620, which took effect in August 1983. On September 1, 1995 the Lamar University System was abolished, and the components became members of The Texas State University System.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board recommended in 1990 that all two-year programs at Lamar University-Beaumont be combined into Lamar University Institute of Technology. The programs in the former College of Technical Arts, Allied Health, Office Technology and Restaurant/Institutional Food Management were placed in the new institute.
On September 1, 1995, the Institute of Technology became an educational center of Lamar University and a member of The Texas State University System. The Texas Legislature changed the name of the institution to Lamar Institute of Technology in 1999.
Lamar Institute of Technology, a member of The Texas State University System and a state-supported institution, is located in Beaumont, one of the world’s largest petrochemical centers. Beaumont is a progressive city in the Sunbelt offering private and public schools, churches, museums, shopping districts and a wide range of leisure-time activities to serve the metropolis of 114,000.
A Jefferson County entertainment complex, a civic center, convention center, a performing arts theater, a downtown dining and entertainment district and coliseum draw professional entertainers and a wide variety of business and social and professional groups to the city. Beaumont is convenient to major recreation facilities of Southeast Texas, including the Gulf of Mexico, large lakes and the Big Thicket National Preserve.
A board of nine regents, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate for terms of six years, governs The Texas State University System. The Board of Regents delegates the direction of affairs to the president, campus administrative officers and faculty.
Lamar Institute of Technology is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award degrees at the associate level. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097 or call (404) 679- 4500, at http://www.sacs.org for questions about the accreditation of Lamar Institute of Technology.
The Lamar Institute of Technology Dental Hygiene program is accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation. The Respiratory Therapy Program and the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program are accredited by The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. The Medical Radiologic Technology Program is accredited by The Joint Review Committee for Education in Radiologic Technology. The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management accredits the Health Information Technology program.
On December 4, 2000, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools granted separate accreditation to Lamar Institute of Technology.