Campus Hacks: Huston-Tillotson

Learn to navigate this historic Eastside university with these hacks

Located at 900 Chicon, Huston-Tillotson (abbreviated as HT) is a private historically black university. Established in 1875, Huston-Tillotson is the first and oldest institution of higher learning in Austin.

This university is more than a sign you drive by consistently on I-35: It’s a place of blossoming brilliance that’s been an essential part of East Austin culture for a century and a half.

Huston-Tillotson University students pose before getting ready to volunteer for EarthDay ATX 2017, held on the HT campus. The event brought more than 6,000 people to the campus, which was brought to life with interactive exhibits, screenings, vendors, activities and more. (photo by Julianne Hanckel)

Campus Overview

The minute you set foot on campus, you have the inclination to do extraordinary things. Everyone is so inviting, and that welcoming spirit makes everybody feel like somebody. Your teachers know you by first and last name. The environment of HT is family-oriented, and that is the best feeling – particularly if you’re far from home.

University president Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette is the first female president of Huston-Tillotson University, and she has done tremendous work all over the Austin community while embracing the culture of East Austin. Being able to walk up to your university president and just say hello feels incredible especially when she knows everyone's name.

With the hard work of our student body and faculty, HT has been identified as the official campus of the Diversity Hackathon, which is the only youth- and diversity-focused annual hackathon, 100% organized and 100% operated by students of color here in the United States (#IAMTHEPIPELINE).

When your weeks begin to get hectic, remember every Wednesday is Hump Day, which kicks off with the Greek stroll. The Greek stroll commences with both fraternities and sororities all commingled as one big group strolling in unison to today’s hottest tracks. As the stroll hypes up and the atmosphere intensifies, the group breaks off into their respective spots on the yard and the party really starts. It’s lit! Hump Day is a prime opportunity to mingle with upperclassmen to get a feel for the college and what the Greek lifestyle has to offer, along with lots of great food and tons of exciting activities throughout the night.

Seyi Gabriel Adediwura performs a set on the saxophone for the Homecoming 2017 audience. (photo by Julianne Hanckel)

What’s Happening Around Campus?

Greek life

Strong bonds are forged within the various fraternities and sororities on campus. While members are quite discreet about the process of getting into one of these organizations, if you are lucky enjoy to join the Greek life, you’ll be a part of a legacy of greatness.


A homecoming at an HBCU (Historically Black College/University) resembles no other. This special event brings together alumni and pre-alumni to celebrate the university and cheer on the Rams during the homecoming basketball game.

How about that football team?

Since we don’t actually have a football team, basketball is our “trademark” sport. Both women’s and men’s games, held at the Mary Branch Gymnasium, are always packed to the rim, no pun intended. They’re standing room only, so if you want a seat, get there at least an hour early.

Food on campus

If you’re looking for fast food, you won’t find it here. We actually have a cafeteria – better known as “The Caf” – that prepares fresh cooked, homemade meals daily. If you ever hear someone on campus mention “Catfish Friday,” believe me, you certainly want to grab a plate and dive in. The Caf is the place to be on Catfish Friday!

W.E.B DuBois Honors Program

The W.E.B. DuBois Honors Program offers exceptional academic and extracurricular opportunities to students (of all majors) who are intellectually curious, capable, and interested in making the most of their time at Huston-Tillotson University. The staff members of the DuBois Honors Program are dedicated to assisting students in achieving their academic and personal goals. Incoming freshmen are welcome to apply.

More Tips

Bennu (photo by Devaki Knowles)

Bennu on Martin Luther King Blvd. has the most chill atmosphere with affordable coffee for a college kid’s budget. The best part? It’s open 24 hours – definitely a lifesaver during finals time. Not to mention Bennu possibly has the best frosted espresso in town.

• In need of campus gear? HT’s school store is located in the Davage-Durden Student Union, which is also best known as the campus hangout spot. It’s the best place for students needing to breathe easy between classes or looking for the latest school gear to spark their collegiate wardrobe. The store has an abundant assortment to fit any taste, and they even offer snacks.

• Walking distance from HT is a food truck park – yes, an actual park of just food trucks. It’s definitely something that should be on your Austin bucket list. My personal favorite is Wild Magnolias, a Cajun food truck serving seafood.

• About a 12-minute drive from HT is the Drag, a long strip of stores and restaurants across the street from the University of Texas. There’s just a never-ending feast for your taste buds, including personal favorites Teji’s Indian Restaurant, Longhorn Chicken, and Thai, How Are You?

Austin Mic Exchange at Spider House Ballroom (photo by John Anderson)

• To wrap things up, Spider House on Fruth Street has been an extraordinary place to check out local rap/hip hop music. Spider House has hosted weekly the Austin Mic Exchange, where a neighborhood artist gets to experiment with their music and vibe with different artists. After five years, the show is retiring – Sept. 20 marks the last Austin Mic Exchange. Spider House is also just a great place to get coffee, study, and people-watch. This place is dope.

Want more tips about life on and off the quad? Visit The Austin Chronicle’s Guide to Campus Life.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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Back to School, Back to School 2017, Huston-Tillotson, Diversity Hackathon, HBCU, Colette Pierce Burnette, W.E.B. DuBois Honors Program, Bennu, Spider House, Teji's, Longhorn Chicken, Thai, How Are You?

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