Leroy T. Patton and the Geology Field Trips

(originally posted June 3, 2011)

The inspiration for this week’s “Notes from the University Archives” came about while rooting through early papers from the President’s records from the 1920s-1940s. A bit of correspondence between President Bradford Knapp and Leroy T. Patton discussing the basis for a student’s grade caught my eye. Patton suggested the following scale, stating that it was as close as he could recall from previous experience:

An A Student is one who has mastered the subject and has made it a part of his mental equipment to such as extent that he can use it independently.

An B Student is one who knows the subject, can answer most of the question upon it, but has not made it so thoroughly a part of his mental equipment that he can use it independently to any large extent.

An C Student has mastered a fair amount of the subject, but cannot make independent use of it.

An D Student has obtained some value from the subject, but comparatively little.

An F Student is one who has obtained practically nothing from the study of the subject.

Who was this man behind this definition of a student grade scale?

Leroy T. Patton

Leroy Thompson Patton began as a professor of geology at Texas Technological College in 1925, the first year Texas Technological College opened. Before that, he had served as professor and department head of chemistry and geology at Musingum College and associate geologist with the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas, as well as having served as a high school principal and superintendent of schools in Ohio. Patton was also a member of Sigma Xi, a graduate science research society.

Patton, learning of the new college that was opening up in West Texas, contacted the new president, Dr. Paul Whitfield Horn in the hopes of obtaining a new position. “At the time I applied for a job Dr. Horn hadn’t planned to have a geology department. I had to sell him on a geology department and on myself,” he reflected in 1950 as he prepared to retire the following year. As there were not enough students to fill a geology position full-time, Patton agreed to also teach chemistry. “Incidentally, I never have taught chemistry,” he proudly boasted.

The very limited number of buildings on the new campus proved to be a challenge for many who started teaching at Texas Tech. Patton’s office was shared with biology professor Dr. Richard Studhalter, his classroom space was in the Administration Building, his labs in the Home Economics and Textile Engineering Buildings, and additionally he also coached boxing in the mule barn.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Patton worked hard to publish in his field and a Geological Society of Texas Technological College was established which later petitioned Sigma Gamma Epsilon to become a chapter in 1931. Geology courses were popular, having 281 students enrolled by fall of 1931 and 296 in the fall of 1932.

Patton also began to conduct a field course in geology for his students starting in 1927. The goal was to give his students field experience before they graduated. A wonderful little scrapbook resides in the Archives from the first field trip to New Mexico from June 7-July 14, 1927. Among the places they visited were the Guadalupe Mountains, the New Mexico Military Institute at Roswell, Ruidoso, Lincoln National Forest, San Andres Canyon, and White Sands.

Image #3 "In the Guadalupe Mountains"

Image #3 “In the Guadalupe Mountains”

Image #35 "Above the timber line - noon lunch in a beautiful mountain meadow 10,000 ft. elevation."

Image #35 “Above the timber line – noon lunch in a beautiful mountain meadow 10,000 ft. elevation.”

Caption 63: "Collecting fossils in San Andres Canyon."

Caption 63: “Collecting fossils in San Andres Canyon.”

Caption 93: "One of our many outdoor lecture rooms."

Caption 93: “One of our many outdoor lecture rooms.”

To view this collection, please visit the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library on the Texas Tech University campus. Richard Studhalter later formed a similar student group, called the Biology Club, in 1937 which also went on field trips and his collection can also be found in the University Archives.

Written by: Lynn Whitfield


This is Texas Tech

Originally posted May 31, 2011

One of the best aspects of the Internet is the ability to provide access to unique or rare material to a larger audience. One such item we ran across was a 1947 Tech promo video which had been placed on YouTube. The five minute film was narrated by Clint Formby, a noted Tech alum who graduated with a journalism degree in 1949. Clint went on to do a daily radio program on KPAN called the “Day-by-Day Philosopher” which ran for nearly 55 years before his passing in 2010. While Clint narrates an overview of the Raider life in 1947, the film shows footage of the Administration Building and its towers and bells, students crossing Memorial Circle to go to class, Red Raiders marching in the homecoming parade, a touchdown by the football team, and the Texas Tech “Matador Band” performing a Double T formation.

The same person has also posted footage of the 1960 Jones Stadium expansion.

The University Archives houses thousands of feet of school footage, including footage from the University News and Publications Office, now called Marketing and Communications. We have found another “This is Texas Tech” type film which we have been able to digitize. The recording is undated but the clothes and hairstyles are distinctly from the ’80s. However, the recording does not have sound yet as currently we do not have the equipment that can transfer that part. Hopefully we will be able to do that in the near future. There’s no telling what other blast from the past footage resides hidden among our holdings. Numerous recordings and reels are unlabelled and will have to be viewed to determine their content.

Do you have any such hidden treasures among your holdings? If so and you are interested in sharing it with other Tech alumns, please contact the University Archives. We would all be interested in seeing more “This is Texas Tech” gems such as the ones described above.

Out with the old, in with the new!

(repost from September 19, 2008)

On Saturday, September 20, 2008, Gaston and Thompson Halls will be demolished to make room for the new Jerry S. Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University. If you were a student at here, chances are you visited one or both of these buildings at some point. You may have stayed in Gaston Hall when it served as graduate housing or paid a late night visit Thompson Hall to see a doctor in the Student Health Clinic. In rememberance of these structures, here’s some interesting facts from Texas Tech history:

Located on the northwest side of the Tech campus, the Thompson-Gaston-Wells-Carpenter Halls complex was comprised of two-hall complexes. The Thompson-Gaston dormitory cost an estimated $2,705,120 to build in 1958.

Thompson Hall was named after Dr. Charles Collins Thompson, a lawyer who served on the Texas Technological College Board of Directors starting from 1937-1957. He was born on July 3, 1898, in Erath County, Texas. After attending Simmon College for a year, he received a teacher’s certificate and later attended UT Law School. Thompson was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1923, served as a County Judge of Mitchell County from 1925-1931, was President of City National Bank in Colorado City, Texas in 1937, and received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Tech in 1958. He was active in numerous civic organizations and had the nickname “Mr. Farm Credit” due to his involvement in farm credit lending practices. In 1972, he was named “Man of the Year in Texas Agriculture” by The Progressive Farmer magazine. Thompson passed away in 1983. Aside from having the dormitory named after him, a Charles C. Thompson Professorship in Agricultural Finance was established in his name in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

William Thomas Gaston, for whom Gaston Hall was named after, was born in Henderson, Texas on May 10, 1879. He attended Polytechnic College for one year before going on to accept numerous business manager positions. He accepted the position of Business Manager at Texas Tech in 1929 and remained in this position until his retirement in 1954. He is noted for laying the ground work for the dormitory system at Texas Tech. Gaston is also credited with being the first member of The Heritage Club, an archiving project started in 1965 to preserve the photographic history of the university.