For most of a century Tarleton State University’s Trogdon House has been a hub of activity and tradition in Stephenville.
The two-story building, a stately 4,500 square feet, sits at the heart of the campus, between the O.A Grant Building, the E.J. Howell Education Building and the Dick Smith Library.
Built in 1923, it has housed university presidents starting with its builder and architect, Dean J. Thomas Davis, who shared the dwelling with his family until he turned over the reins of power in 1948.
Construction was overseen by Davis and involved primarily student labor, which kept costs low — about $8,000. Students and local workers were paid from 25 to 62 1/2 cents per hour.
A local newspaper announcing the project described the structure.
“Besides the student labor, whereby many boys have earned enough to place them in school for the coming term, many local men have been used. The material for the dean’s home has, to a large extent been native stone. This, of course will be stuccoed and plastered, but will in the end be a very substantial building and help materially the appearance of the campus.”
The house features two full stories and an attic with 18-inch exterior walls built up with several layers of concrete plaster.
Dean E.J. Howell and his family moved into the house in 1948 and over the years added a garage, a breezeway, a screened porch and central heating and air. The home’s namesake, Dr. W.O. Trogdon, came to Tarleton in 1966 for a 16-year stay.
Soon after the Trogdons left, a university master plan stipulated the historic structure be torn down, or at least relocated.
Tarleton’s student government, university alumni and the Erath County Historical Society intervened and gained Historical Landmark status for the aging building, giving it new life.
Saved from demolition, the structure was renovated in 1995, and in 1999 The Texas A&M University System approved the name Trogdon House in recognition of the last family to occupy it.
Once named the Hall of Presidents, the Trogdon House has been home to various administrative offices, including Student Services, University News Service, the Alumni Association, the Office of Development and the Tarleton Foundation, Inc.
In 2009 more than $760,000 in upgrades made the house ready to again serve its original purpose, and Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio and his family returned the president’s residence to campus.
A driving force behind the restoration was legendary alumnus Col. Will Tate, Class of 1935.
“The Trogdon House is somewhat of a spiritual place,” he said during the 2009 remodeling. “It links the past of Tarleton with its future, and I was honored to play a role in the preservation of this wonderful place.”
Now home to the family of President James Hurley, Trogdon House hosts campus and community functions.
Tarleton State University’s 16th First Lady, Kindall Hurley, takes an active role in supporting her husband’s vision to see the school become the premier comprehensive regional institution in the nation. She is an enthusiastic Tarleton ambassador, whether hosting activities at the Hurley home — the Trogdon House in the heart of the Stephenville campus — attending community and university events, or raising funds for the Tarleton Forever Capital Campaign.
A champion for education, Mrs. Hurley is passionate about students and their success and well-being. She earned her MBA at the University of Tennessee, and she completed a master’s in educational leadership and a specialist degree in educational administration at Lincoln Memorial University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from East Tennessee State University.
Her professional career involved elementary education and pediatric healthcare. She has served on numerous boards for educational, community health, health advocacy and nonprofit organizations.
Today Mrs. Hurley devotes her time to caring for her family — her husband, Tarleton President James Hurley, and children Drew, Carter, Blayklee and Brooklyn — and diligently serving as Tarleton’s First Lady. Faith is important to her, and she enjoys spending time with Tarleton's students, faculty, staff, alumni and the Texan community.
Dr. James Hurley was unanimously appointed the 16th President of Tarleton State University in August 2019 by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. Since his arrival, Tarleton has become one of the country’s fastest growing comprehensive public universities.
Under Dr. Hurley’s leadership, the university created and implemented Tarleton Forward 2030: Our Future-Focused Strategic Plan, a blueprint for becoming the premier comprehensive public university in the nation. During his time, Tarleton has elevated its academics, research, enrollment, retention rates, graduation rates, diversity, fundraising, athletics, and regional engagement.
His signature initiatives include robust enrollment growth, innovative student funding models, accelerated degree completion, improved operational efficiency and collaborations with business and community stakeholders. Additionally, Dr. Hurley launched the largest-ever comprehensive capital campaign in Tarleton’s history. Forward-Together has shattered fundraising records and already eclipsed $100 million in philanthropic support, trending two years ahead of schedule toward a $125 million 2024 target.
Dr. Hurley’s efforts to advance research and innovation endeavors have earned Tarleton the elevated designation of Doctoral Universities: High Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. This puts Tarleton among only 132, or 4%, of universities across the country designated as high research institutions. He established and secured funding to launch three major research initiatives: the President’s Excellence in Research Scholars (PERS), the Center for Research, Innovation and Economic Development, and the Texas Rural Research and Innovation Alliance.
An invitation in 2022 to join the impactful Association of Public & Land-grant Universities reflects Dr. Hurley’s commitment to groundbreaking discovery, increasing educational access for historically underserved students and enhancing equitable student success. APLU membership underscores Tarleton’s place among the top schools in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
President Hurley’s cultivation of broad and deep connections has resulted in a student body with the third highest number of Texas counties represented. Collaborations with regional Distinguished High School Partners and two-year Distinguished College Partners strengthen the university's commitment to educational attainment and affordability, offering guaranteed scholarships for qualified students.
Additionally, his Tarleton Promise provides tuition, fees, books, room and board to students who exhaust federal and state financial aid. He spearheads efforts to address the state’s growing educational and workforce needs by serving on several governing boards pertaining to higher education affordability, economic development and public policy.
The North Texas Commission honored Dr. Hurley with its prestigious 2022 Education Leadership Award, recognizing his lasting impact on the region, and he currently serves on the Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellor’s Executive Committee.
In 2019 he advanced Tarleton to NCAA Division I status in the Western Athletic Conference. He was instrumental in the league’s expansion and in re-establishing championship football in the WAC. He is one of three presidents who serve on the WAC Board of Directors Executive Committee.
A nationally recognized innovator and academic leader, Dr. Hurley has a lifetime of service as Instructor, Professor, Dean and Vice President. Prior to Tarleton, he served as President of Tusculum University. Under his leadership, TU added its University Health Center, College of Health Sciences and Niswonger College of Optometry.
Dr. Hurley is a first-generation college graduate, the grandson of coal miners and a son to parents who taught him that education holds the key to a brighter future. This is the very motivation behind his lifelong advocacy in promoting higher education opportunity, enhancing diversity and supporting access for all students.
He holds a Doctorate in Education from Morehead State University, a Master's Degree from Indiana University and a Bachelor's degree from the University of Pikeville. He completed the Institute for Presidential Leadership at Harvard University and received a certificate of higher education management from Vanderbilt University.
President Hurley and his wife, Kindall, are the proud parents of sons Drew and Carter and daughters Blayklee and Brooklyn.