Dr. W. Sam Monroe, who has been a part of Lamar State College-Port Arthur for 49 years including serving as president for the past 39, has announced he will retire effective Aug. 31, 2014.
Dr. Monroe succeeded his father, Madison Monroe, as president of Port Arthur College in 1974 and has served in that capacity for nearly four decades.
Texas State University System Chancellor Brian McCall said, “Sam Monroe is often acknowledged for being the longest-serving college president in Texas. More significant, however, is the positive impact he has made during his tenure on the institution, the Port Arthur community and so many lives.”
Dr. Monroe has been directly affiliated with Port Arthur College, the forerunner of LSC-PA, since 1965, when he joined the college owned radio station KPAC AM/FM as a staff announcer. In 1973 he was named executive vice president of the college, and a year later he succeeded his father, who had been president since 1958.
Over the next four decades, Monroe led the evolution of Port Arthur College to Lamar University-Port Arthur and, eventually, Lamar State College-Port Arthur, bringing accreditation to the institution, which then allowed for student financial aid from state and federal sources.
Today, the college is accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges as well as 10 other accrediting bodies.
As the college’s ability to serve the community with financial aid and degree programs grew, so did its physical appearance along the Procter Street corridor in downtown Port Arthur.
The college initially consisted of four buildings on three acres but has grown to 29 buildings on 50 acres. The campus value in 1975 was $3 million. Today it stands at $110 million.
College endowment funds have grown to more than $8 million, helping to fund the aspirations of generations of students at the college. Enrollment in spring 1975 was 151. For fall 2013, 3,124 students were enrolled in pursuit of degrees or certificates in more than 50 programs of study. To serve that ever-growing population of students, the faculty and staff at the college has grown from 12 in the mid-1970s to 250 today.
In 2004, the college ventured into the world of collegiate athletics, adding basketball and softball as additional scholarship opportunities for incoming students. In 2014, volleyball will be added to the roster of sports on campus.
Although retirement is on his horizon, Dr. Monroe will continue to live in Port Arthur and participate in various civic organizations in addition to his work with the Historical Society and Higher Education Foundation.