Main page content
William Lambdin Prather, president and former regent of The University of Texas at Austin, died on July 24, 1905. He was 57.
President Prather was born on May 1, 1848, in Chestnut Grove near Paris, Tennessee. He grew up on a plantation outside Waco, Texas. He earned an LLB degree in law from Washington and Lee University in 1871.
President Prather was admitted to the bar and practiced law in Waco for 28 years. He served as Waco city attorney from 1875 to 1878. From 1895 to 1896 he was president of the state bar association.
In 1887 he was appointed to the UT Board of Regents. He served as vice chairman of the board in 1895 and as chairman in 1899. He was named acting president of the University in 1899 and president in 1900.
Under his administration enrollment increased and the institution won favor with the legislature. President Prather also provided the University with the words "The Eyes of Texas are upon you," which later became the title of the institution's official song. As a student, he reportedly heard Washington and Lee University President Robert E. Lee tell students, "Young men, the eyes of the South are upon you." President Prather changed the words slightly and used them as opening and parting comments he made to students. "The Eyes of Texas are upon you" was placed under trademark registration in 1936.
The 1906 Cactus was dedicated to President Prather.