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DISCOVER UH's HERITAGE & HISTORY

1927 - 1933 1933 - 1963 1963 - Present Official UH Seal
UH System University Colors Cougar Sign Fight Song
History of Homecoming UH Homecoming    

In the Beginning (1927 - 1933)
The University of Houston began life as Houston Junior College. On March 7, 1927, trustees of the Houston Board of Education passed a resolution granting Dr. Edison Ellsworth Oberholtzer permission for founding, establishing, and operating a junior college. The two-year college was operated and controlled under the guidance of the Houston Independent School District. HJC was located in the San Jacinto High School building on Holman Street and was only able to offer night courses. Its first session began June 5, 1927, with an enrollment of 232 students and 12 faculty, four of them on loan from Sam Houston State University and The University of Texas. This first session accepted no freshmen, and its purpose was mainly to educate the future teachers of the junior college. A much more accurate date for the opening of HJC is Sept. 19, 1927, when enrollment was opened to high school graduates. Oberholtzer, then superintendent of Houston schools, was the first president of HJC and was the dominant force in establishing the junior college.
Creation & Growth of UH (1933 - 1963)
In October 1933, HJC became eligible to change to a four-year institution when Gov. Miriam A. Ferguson signed House Bill 194 into law. On April 30, 1934, the Houston Board of Education extended the services of HJC to add two more years of study to its curriculum, making it eligible to become a university, which it did under the name of The University of Houston. The first session for UH as a four-year institution began June 4, 1934, with an enrollment of 682. Classes continued to meet at San Jacinto High School, but the university’s new status required day classes, which could not meet at the high school. In 1934, the first “campus” of the University of Houston was established in the Second Baptist Church at the corner of Milam and McGowen. The following year UH moved to South Main Baptist Church on Main near Richmond. It remained there for the next five years until the congregation found too many decks of playing cards in a temporary student lounge. It was not until 1936 that the present grounds were acquired through a generous donation of land by Ben Taub and Julius J. Settegast and vast monetary support from the Cullen family.

June 4, 1939, the Roy Gustav Cullen Memorial Building, which housed UH’s administrative offices, classes and library, was dedicated. Classes were held on the new campus the very next day. The first full up-and-running semester officially began on Sept. 20, 1939; by which point the Science Building across from the Roy Cullen Memorial had opened its doors. The next step in UH’s development, separation from HISD and the creation of the University of Houston as its own institution, came at the same time as World War II. On July 26, 1943, the Board of Education adopted a resolution that established an Advisory Board of the University consisting of 15 members, and on March 12, 1945, the school’s battle was finally won when Senate Bill 207, removing the control of UH from HISD and placing it in the hands of the 15 University board members, became law.

As the war ended, UH’s enrollment skyrocketed from around 1,100 to over 13,000 students. Trailers and shacks occupied by veterans and their families on the Calhoun side of the campus, known as the “University Village,” remained as visible reminders of the campus facility shortage from 1945 to 1956, and some temporary classroom buildings were constructed in the mid-1940s to handle the increase in enrollment. After the trailers had been cleared, however, some of the barracks-like buildings remained to be used as classrooms in the area of Agnes Arnold Hall and the UC Satellite until they were torn down and new buildings were put in their place.

An ambitious campus expansion project was completed in 1950 with the dedication of several new buildings: the Ezekiel W. Cullen Building, the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library and the five residence halls that make up the Quadrangle. By 1953, the University was able to boast the largest enrollment in the Southwest and one of the most modern campuses in the nation. The last obstacle facing UH was acceptance into the Texas State System of Higher Education. After a long and difficult battle between supporters of UH and forces from state colleges geared toward blocking the change, the passing of Senate Bill 2 on May 23, 1961 enabled the University to officially enter the state system on Sept. 1, 1963.
1963 - Present (UH Today)
The University of Houston is located on 548 acres, three miles from the heart of downtown Houston and operates on a budget of over $200 million a year. The University consists of 13 colleges employing some 1,900-faculty members:

The University Colleges are as follows:

The Gerald Hines College of Architecture
The College of Business Administration
The College of Education
The Graduate School of Social Work
The Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management
The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
The Law Center
The College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
The College of Optometry
The College of Pharmacy
The Cullen College of Engineering
The College of Technology
The Honors College


These Colleges, educating nearly 33,000 students, offer bachelor’s degrees in 129 areas, 31 masters’ degrees in 115 fields, 4 doctoral degrees in 44 areas, and three special professional degrees. The University has approximately 100 classrooms and office buildings, research laboratories, residence halls, and cultural and athletic facilities.

Over the past few years, the University has added several new buildings. In May 1995, the Athletics/Alumni Center (a $29.1 million project) opened, one of the finest of its kind in the United States. In addition, the $24-million Moores School of Music Building, had its grand opening in the fall, 1997. This state-of-the-art facility features recital halls, an 800-seat theater and two original murals by internationally known artist Frank Stella. Other new buildings include the University Police Station, Communications Building, and Cullen Oaks and Bayou Oaks (residential facilities), the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center and the Center for Student with DisAbilities.

The University libraries hold a total collection of about 2 million volumes, 3.7 million microfilm units and more than 15,000 journal subscriptions, all supported by 120 networked computer workstations with a computerized catalog, CD-ROM storage and search capabilities and an international periodical service. Through 4,000 computer terminals across campus, students and faculty link to universities, corporations and institutions worldwide.

The University counts about 180,000 alumni, roughly 80 percent of who live in the Houston area. On campus, students can choose from among some 300 registered student organizations, cultural groups, and athletic and volunteer programs.

Off-campus institutes include the West Houston Institute at Cinco Ranch, the North Houston Institute, and the Fort Bend Institute. These satellites bring educational opportunities to students in outlying parts of the Houston area.

The UH System
The University of Houston is part of the UH System, which includes UH-Downtown, UH-Clear Lake, and UH-Victoria. While we are all a part of the same system of public education in the state of Texas, we are separate institutions and operate independently, though all four-system universities are governed by the Board of Regents and Chancellor, (who also serves as president of UH-Central). The University of Houston is the largest component of the UH System and is the third largest university in the state.
Official Seal
The seal of the University of Houston, officially adopted in 1938, is the coat-of-arms of General Sam Houston, who claimed descent from a Norman knight, Sir Hugh.

The legend is that Sir Hugh fought well at Hastings and was given lands by King William on the Scottish border for his services. He built a stronghold there called Hughstown, and eventually, "Houstoun." Sir Hugh supposedly became a vassal of Malcolm III, King of Scotland and son of Duncan I, who was murdered by Macbeth. Malcolm III returned from exile to kill Macbeth in battle and gained the Scottish throne in 1057. On a raid across the border into England, Malcolm III became hard pressed by opposing forces and Sir Hugh came just in time to save him.

In return, King Malcolm gave Sir Hugh a Scottish knighthood and better lands in Renwickshire. More importantly, the king gave permission for his rescuer to embellish and change his coat-of-arms. The simple escutcheon awarded by William the Conqueror, consisting of checkered chevrons (denoting nobility) and three ravens (strength and long life) were changed considerably. A winged hourglass was added above the shield and surmounting this, the motto, "In Tempore" (In Time). Greyhounds were placed at the sides to indicate the speed with which Sir Hugh came to the king's aid. Martlets, gentle Lowland birds symbolizing peace and deliverance, supplanted the ravens.

The seal was adopted by UH in 1938 in conjunction with the construction of the campus. The first official version was placed on the floor of the Roy Cullen Building.
University Colors
The official colors of the University of Houston are Scarlet Red and Albino White. These were the colors of Sam Houston's ancestor, Sir Hugh, and were adopted by UH at the same time as the seal. Scarlet Red represents "the blood of royalty that was spared due to the timely arrival of Sir Hugh and the blood that is the life source of the soul." Albino White denotes "the purity and perfections of the heart, mind and soul engaged in the effort to serve faithfully that which is by right and reason, justly served." In layman's terms, the red stands for courage or inner strength to face the unknown, and the white stands for the good of helping one's fellow man.
Cougar Sign
The cougar sign, made by folding in the ring finger of the hand towards the palm, and has several stories explaining its meaning. The true story of its origination dates back to 1953, the first time UH played The University of Texas in football. Since this was their first meeting, members of Alpha Phi Omega, the service fraternity in charge of taking care of Shasta I, the university's mascot, brought her to the game. During this trip, Shasta's front paw was caught in the car door and one toe was cut off. At the game, members of the opposing team discovered what had happened and began taunting UH players by holding up their hands with the ring finger bent, saying UH's mascot was an invalid and so were our players. Texas went on to win this game 28-7. UH students were very upset by this and began using the sign as notice that they would never let UT forget the incident. Fifteen years later, at their second meeting, the UH Cougars, proudly holding up the now adopted symbol of UH pride, fought Texas to a 20-20 tie. UH did not play Texas again for eight years, our first year as members of the Southwest Conference. The Cougars were on a mission, and in front of 77,809 spectators (at that time the largest crowd ever in attendance at Memorial Stadium) slammed the lid on the disgrace Texas had attempted to put upon UH 23 years earlier. The final score was the University of Houston Cougars, 30; the Texas Longhorns, 0.
Cougar Fight Song

Cougars fight for dear old U of H
for our Alma Mater cheer.

Fight for Houston University
for victory is near.

When the going gets so rough and tough
we never worry cause we got the stuff.

So fight, fight, fight for red and white
and we will go to victory.


Lyrics: Forest Fountain
Music: Marion Ford

The History of Homecoming
It is believed that the University of Missouri started the tradition of Homecoming in 1911.   MU Football Coach and Director of Athletics Chester Brewer is credited for inviting alumni to "come home" to Columbia, Mo. for the annual football game between MU and the University of Kansas.

As part of this "coming home" celebration, there was a parade and a spirit rally that coincided with the game. MU reports that more than 9,000 fans packed into a stadium for this special event. Thus, MU is credited for the creation of the Homecoming tradition on the collegiate level.   This time-honored event has served has a model for various Homecoming celebrations that take place at universities across the nation.
University of Houston Homecoming
The official Homecoming celebration started in 1946. According to Our Time, a book celebrating the first 75 years of the University of Houston, the tradition was started when the Cougar Football program began in earnest after the World War II era.

The first Homecoming was just one day before the game. It included a day full of vents, which started with breakfast, afternoon activities, and in the evening, a football banquet, followed by a ball. In 1947, Shasta I, the school's first mascot, was acquired. The cougar was named Shasta following a student-naming contest.

Currently, Homecoming events extend over ten days. It includes many alumni, student, faculty, and staff activities. The Houston Alumni Organization holds several time-honored traditions. They include a reception for Golden Cougars as well as a recognition ceremony for supporters, consistent groups, scholarship recipients, and faculty and staff awards. The alumni organization also has the distinction of hosting the longest running annual golf tournament at UH called the HAO Homecoming Golf Tournament.   Homecoming festivities also include pep rallies, dances, concerts, a parade, a spirit week and tailgates, culminating with the Homecoming football game.
Homecoming Spirit Sponsors
HR&P Solutions
Homecoming Pride Sponsors
Cremation Society of Texas
Liberty Mutual
The Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics
Homecoming Red & White Sponsors
Tommy & Elaine Ebner
Bank of Houston / Clay Hoster
Beck Bros., Inc.
Pleas & Joan Doyle
Larry Parker
Stanford Company Group
Bud Light / Silver Eagle Distributors, L.P.
Bert & Deborah Winston
Homecoming Red & White Sponsors
CenterPoint Energy
Gerardo & Olga Balboa
Rick & Jeanette Bowen
JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.
Mike Hemmi
Patrick & Pam Newman
Western Lithograph