Skip to main content

AddRan College of Liberal Arts

Main Content

History & Vision

From humble beginnings, we evolved into a place for innovative thinking.

A statue of TCU founders Addison and Randolph Clark

Two brothers. One grand vision. 

TCU’s mission is to educate individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community. This ideal is the continuation of a quest that began in 1869, when brothers Addison and Randolph Clark dreamed of creating a college where men and women could acquire a classical education and develop character. 

The Clarks were both Fort Worth-based minister-teachers. To distance their endeavor from the distractions of “Hell’s Half Acre”—where the cattle industry and the pending new railroad had stirred a boisterous culture—the brothers headed for the open prairie of nearby Thorp Spring. With just 13 students, they opened the doors of AddRan Male and Female College, one of the first co-ed institutions west of the Mississippi.

Within five years, enrollment swelled to 450 students and the Clarks and their spouses sold everything they owned to invest in a larger building. But for the college to continue, an endowment would be needed.

The Clarks forged an affiliation with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to “adopt” their school, giving it a new name and ensuring its future. The 1873 charter stated that AddRan Christian University would fulfill its mission to “promote literary and scientific education.” The relationship with the Disciples would continue to be one of heritage and values.