Time Capsule: SHSTC President Harmon Lowman Dies
Fifty years ago today – Sunday, January 26, 1964 – marked a black day in the history of Sam Houston State Teachers College, notes the 1964 Alcalde. SHSU President Harmon Lowman died of cancer at 8 PM in Houston’s M.D. Anderson Hospital.
A native of Staples, Texas, Lowman attended Washington and Lee University in Virginia and later enlisted in the army during WWI. Afterwards he taught and finished his education with a bachelor's degree at Southwest Texas State Teachers College, and a master's degree from the University of Texas. He continued on with his education receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, making Lowman the first SHSU president to have an earned doctorate.
When he became president in 1941 the campus had 21 buildings valued at $1.1 Million; at his death there were 78 buildings worth $21 Million. At the start of his tenure the enrollment was 1,200; in 1963 enrollment was over 5,200. In 1941 the college offered 464 courses with a budget of just over $488,000; in 1963 these numbers increased to 1,008 courses and an operating budget of more than $6.3 Million. Lowman is also remembered for his acquisition of Country Campus east of Huntsville for only one dollar ($1) from the federal government, and for equipping SHSTC as the country's first completely air-conditioned college.
The Alcalde notes Dr. Lowman was truly a student’s president:
His door was always open to all, for, as he often said, “The college exists for the student and not the student for the college.” Students loved him...and never failed to give him a standing ovation at college assemblies. Returning the students’ affection, he said, “I had rather be President of Sam Houston State than President of the United States.”The final tribute paid to Dr. Lowman was in the fall of 1963 when the Board of Regents renamed the $1,800,000 student union building the Lowman Student Center:
This was the last building he secured for Sam Houston and many believe it thrilled his heart to know this long-nurtured dream of his had become a reality. ... Although the condition of his health never permitted his entry into the building, his love filled every inch of the interior and exterior.Lowman was buried in Huntsville’s Oakwood Cemetery.