John W. Gates of New York City, one of the founders of Texaco, established Port Arthur Business College in 1909, to train people for the petrochemical industry, then in its infancy. The college became Port Arthur Collegiate Institute in 1911, when the school was presented to the Board of Education of the Methodist Episcopal Church North, a forerunner of the present United Methodist Temple. The church operated the growing campus until 1918, when it was turned over to a non-profit Texas corporation. This corporation had no capital stock and was overseen by a self-perpetuating board of trustees. The name of the school was changed back to Port Arthur Business College and finally, in 1932, to Port Arthur College.
On July 31, 1974, another milestone in the school's history was reached. W. Sam Monroe, then President of Port Arthur College and a Lamar University regent, presented his fellow members of the Lamar board a resolution seeking merger of Port Arthur College into Lamar University. The 21 trustees of the school agreed that the merger would be in the best interests of both institutions and their constituencies.
The 64th Legislature of the State of Texas authorized the merger and appropriated
$600,000 for creation of the Lamar University Center at Port Arthur. On Aug. 21, 1975, the
trustees presented the deed for Port Arthur College to the Lamar University Board of
Regents. Classes began on the Port Arthur campus on Aug. 28, 1975.
Since the merger in 1975, enrollment increased from 151 students to a peak of more than
3,000 and the curriculum has been expanded to more than 50 areas of study.
In 1977, the 65th Legislature approved House Bill 1134 renaming the campus as Lamar
University-Port Arthur; the "Extension Center" designation was dropped.
In 1983, the 68th Legislature passed three bills which directly affected the college:
In 1985, two bills affected the school:
House Bill 1297 was signed into law in June 1999, changing the name of the institution to Lamar State College-Port Arthur.
Lamar State College - Port Arthur is a member of The Texas State University System and an equal opportunity/affirmative action educational institution