Alvin I. Thomas
Dr. Alvin I. Thomas, elected as the third president of Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical College in November 1966, introduced the residential college concept. As Prairie View A&M’s centennial approached, the Board of Regents of the newly-titled Texas A&M University System, at the request of President Thomas, appointed 79 persons to a Centennial Planning Council and charged them with formulating a new master plan for Prairie View A&M for the 1970’s. After 16 months of serious study, the council’s recommendations were published in a document entitled “A Developmental Plan, 1970-80, Prairie View A&M College of Texas.” As an outgrowth of this plan and recommendations to the state legislature, the name of the institution was again changed to Prairie View A&M University, and its status as an independent unit of the Texas A&M University System was reconfirmed. The System Board of Regents, in the fall of 1970, sold in excess of $13 million in bonds for the construction of two new residence halls and a dining facility. The residence halls, accommodating 1,500 students, were opened for occupancy in August of 1972.
The dining facility, now known as Alumni Hall, was opened in the second semester of the 1972-73 academic year. Other major construction completed during the following decade included the fire and security building, Farrell Hall Laundry, Burleson-Ware ROTC Building, Hobart Taylor Hall, the engineering building, and the Owens-Franklin Health Center. In 1980-81, the state of Texas purchased and renovated a building in the Texas Medical Center complex to be used as clinical nursing center for the College of Nursing. In 1981-82, broadcasting began from newly constructed facilities of FCC-approved KPVU-FM at Prairie View, an instructional laboratory of the Department of Communications. In 1981, the Texas legislature officially recognized Prairie View as not only a general purpose university but also as “special purpose institution” providing services to students of “diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.” The physical plant, valued at approximately $12 million in 1966, was valued at more than $50 million at this time. Curricula offerings, research, and Cooperative Extension activities had been greatly enhanced.