Notable people of Walker County: Arleigh B. Templeton

Arleigh B. Templeton

There have been 14 presidents of what is now Sam Houston State University.

The 8th president, Arleigh B. Templeton, was born here in New Waverly on April 18, 1916. He received an undergraduate degree from Sam Houston Teachers College in 1936 and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Houston.

Templeton became a principal and English, Spanish and algebra teacher at Willow Hole High School in Texas at the age of 19. From 1937 to 1940, he was principal and taught biology, physics and math at League City High School.

After World War II, Templeton became assistant superintendent and then superintendent for several Houston Area School districts. Templeton started as president of Alvin Junior College in 1954.

After ten years, he became president of Sam Houston State Teachers College in 1964. While president, Templeton stressed the importance of student and faculty research and worked on increasing the percentage of doctorally-prepared professors.

The school’s name changed twice during Templeton’s tenure, first to Sam Houston State College, and then to Sam Houston State University in 1969. Also during his time, criminal justice programs were created. These programs offered the school’s first doctoral degree.

In 1970, Templeton became the first president of the University of Texas at San Antonio. After serving just two years, he then became president of the University of Texas at El Paso. Templeton retired from the University of Texas at El Paso in 1980.

He and his wife moved to San Antonio, where he ran a job training center until his final retirement in 1999.

Arleigh Templeton passed away on October 28, 2006 in San Antonio at the age of 90.

Templeton is one of many noteworthy people featured in the new exhibit, “Notable People of Walker County,” now on display at the Gibbs-Powell House and County Museum. The museum is open from noon to 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday’s. 

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