While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


David R. Gifford

PRESBYTERIAN PAN AMERICAN SCHOOL. The Presbyterian Pan American School, in Kingsville, became the successor of the Texas Mexican Industrial Institute and the Presbyterian School for Mexican Girls following a decision to merge the two schools. At its 100th meeting in Waco in 1955, the Synod of Texas took action to establish and operate a Presbyterian Pan American School to meet the highest educational standards and be thoroughly Christian, international, and coeducational. In September 1957 the Taft campus of the Presbyterian School for Mexican Girls closed, and a coeducational program began at Kingsville. During the early years of the new school the synod owned, controlled, and provided the operating budget for the mission school. High school and limited college programs were offered for students fourteen and older who applied through their local Presbyterian churches. Admission to the college department was by faculty nomination only. In addition to a college-preparatory high school department, an intensive English department operated primarily in the summer sessions to enable foreign students to take regular courses. The school sought to prepare students to finish college and enter teaching, ministerial, missionary, medical, and legal professions. All students lived on the Kingsville campus in dormitories, which accommodated sixty boys and fifty-four girls. Other facilities on the 670-acre campus included a chapel, a classroom building, an office building, a library, a swimming pool, and athletic fields. Total enrollment during 1965–66 was 114 students. In 1972 the faculty numbered thirteen and the enrollment was 110.

Sherwood H. Reisner served as school president from 1956 until 1980. Toward the end of his administration the school added a new science building, a gymnasium, and tennis courts to the campus facilities. In 1979 ownership of the school was transferred from the Synod of Red River to the board of trustees. David R. Gifford succeeded S. H. Reisner as president in 1980. During Gifford's tenure the school established an office of development with Sherwood Reisner as the first director. Increased funding was needed to repair damages to the campus caused by Hurricane Allen in 1980 and to respond to the increased need for scholarships caused by rapid devaluation of the Mexican peso in 1982. The school introduced a day department for students from the Kingsville area in the fall of 1983. In 1987 it was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. As of 1994 Abraham Torres was president. The school is governed by a board of trustees whose members are elected by the Synod of the Sun (Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.), by the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico, and by the board itself. It has a five-year covenant relationship with the Synod of the Sun, PCUSA. The Synod contributed approximately 7 percent of operating income to the school in 1987–88. Expected enrollment during the 1994–95 school year was 120, including mostly boarding students and some day students. The student body represented seven different nations, although most were from Mexico.

Corpus Christi Caller-Times, August 22, 1956. Dallas Morning News, June 9, 1964. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, David R. Gifford, "PRESBYTERIAN PAN AMERICAN SCHOOL," accessed May 24, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/kbp13.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...