|| Founded 1889 as the Mayo School, in Cooper (16 mi. NE). Reopened with about 35 students in a brick store on the public square here in Commerce in 1894, still under private ownership of William Leonidas Mayo (1861-1917), a gifted teacher from Kentucky. School was underwritten by public-spirited local citizens.
Its most illustrious student, Sam Rayburn (1882-1961), gained international fame as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
The Mayo School passed into state ownership in 1917 as East Texas State Normal College, Randolph B. Binnion, president. After name was changed (1923) to East Texas State Teachers College, presidents were Sam H. Whitley (1924-1946), Arthur C. Ferguson (1946-1947) and James G. Gee (1947-1966). The word "teachers" was dropped from the title in 1957; in 1965, it became East Texas State University. In 1966, D. Whitney Halladay succeeded to the presidency.
East Texas State University has more than 26,000 graduates. It offers bachelor's and master's degrees in arts and science; also the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Its 1200-acre campus has 150 buildings. It is one of 23 state-supported colleges and universities in Texas enrolling over 150,000 students annually.