Between the years 1840 and 1920, the Methodist Church founded nearly eighty colleges in Texas. Four colleges in the Northwest Texas Conference had closed for various reasons by 1920, when the Rev. James Winford Hunt was appointed commissioner of a new college to be built in Abilene.Texas Sesquicentennial 1836-1986
James Winford Hunt (1875-1934) published newspapers in Lubbock and Plainview before becoming a Methodist circuit rider minister in 1903. He was called to St. Paul's Church in Abilene in 1914, where he served for two years before becoming president of Stamford College. Returning to St. Paul's when Stamford closed in 1918, he resigned in 1920 to promote the establishment of a new college.
Garnering overwhelming community support, a fund drive was launched in March 1921, to coincide with a visit from the conference presiding bishop, William Fletcher McMurry. In April the church Board of Education elected trustees, appointed Hunt president, and named McMurry College in honor of the bishop. A charter was filed with the state on November 26, 1921, and construction began in 1922. The faculty was chosen the following spring and the school officially opened on September 19, 1923.