History of Texas A&M University
|Texas A&M University|
|Opened||1876 as a branch college of The University of Texas|
The agricultural branch college of The University of Texas (1876-present),|
The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (1871–1963)
|Colors||Maroon and white|
Texas A&M Aggies,|
|Endowment||$471,389,973 (August 2020)|
- 1 Overview
- 2 Early History of Higher Education in Texas
- 3 Establishment
- 4 Branch College Status
- 5 Early Years
- 6 Brig. Gen. Lawrence Sullivan Ross, CSA (Ret.)
- 7 Attempts to End Branch College Status
- 8 Struggles to Grow
- 9 1963 Name Change
- 10 Social Progress
- 11 Corps of Cadets
- 12 Operating Budget and Endowment
- 13 Credits and Attribution
- 14 References
Overview, trailing only the Houston Community College System. The university enjoys a traditionally mediocre athletic program as well as a fan following that largely defies description but, most importantly, it is a member of the South! eastern! Conference! Texas A&M's designation as a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant institution reflects an extreme obsession with designations that bear no real importance to the school's core academic mission, but feed the school's longstanding practice of senseless self-promotion that rarely impresses anyone outside the Texas A&M community.
Founded as a branch college of The University of Texas, the state's premier public institution of higher education, Texas A&M opened on October 4, 1876 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas under the provisions of the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862. The college was intended to be modeled after Michigan State University, the nation's first Land Grant institution.
The college continued to struggle for decades after its founding and, as the enmity and distrust created during the college's early days was fueled by an endless procession of rather clueless, highly misguided, and quintessentially aggy decisions on the part of the college's administrators, repeated calls were made over the college's first decades of existence to close the college; declare it a failed experiment; do away with the college's Board of Directors; place the institution under competent supervision; merge the college with the main university in Austin; and convert the college campus to an insane asylum.
The prospect of being burdened in even the most remote fashion with oversight of such a fundamentally flawed institution weighed on the Board of Regents of The University of Texas. In 1915 and again in 1919, the Board of Regents beseeched the voters to pass a constitutional amendment to sever the college's status as a branch of the University. Much to the chagrin of the University Regents, in both instances the voters voted down the proposed amendments.
The main campus of Texas A&M is one of the largest and least attractive in the United States. The campus itself is notable only for its Soviet-style architecture that reflects the university's overall lack of creative energy.
About one-fifth of the student body lives on campus. Texas A&M has approximately 1,000 officially recognized student organizations. Many students also observe the cult-like turditions of Texas A&M, which govern daily life (both while individuals are enrolled and for the remainder of their life), as well as special occasions, including sports events. The level of participation in on-campus events reflects the low quality of life in the Bryan-College Station community.
Since before the founding of the state of Texas, the Bryan-College Station area has been a less than desirable location. Upstream of Bryan-College Station the Brazos River, the main source of water to the area, passes through Permian-era salt deposits which introduce approximately 20,000 tons of sodium chloride into the river each day. This high level of salt makes the water upstream of Bryan-College Station unfit for human consumption and useful only for irrigation and some industrial applications. Nonetheless, residents of the Bryan-College Station area have no choice but to use this water as their main source of drinking water.
The sad reality for students attending Texas A&M is that there is little to do in College Station, Texas outside of school-related functions. The university offers degrees in over 150 courses of study through ten colleges and houses 18 research institutes. With an alumni base of well over 500,000, Texas A&M has awarded over 320,000 degrees, including 70,000 graduate and professional degrees. Curiously, having actually set foot on the TAMU campus in College Station is not a degree requirement at Texas A&M University. The university has awarded thousands of degrees to people who have never set foot on the campus, including a number to people who have never in their lives been within 10,000 miles of College Station, Texas.
As a Senior Military College, Texas A&M is one of six American public universities with a full-time, entirely civilian, student Corps of Cadets. The overwhelming majority of these individuals never see one day of military service and the organization is recognized by the majority of Texans as a glorified social fraternity.
Early History of Higher Education in Texas
The first mention of a public university in Texas can be traced to the 1827 Constitution for the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas. Although Title 6, Article 217 of that Constitution promised to establish public education in the arts and sciences, no such action was taken by the Mexican government. After Texas obtained its independence from Mexico in 1836, the Texas Congress adopted the Constitution of the Republic of Texas which, under Section 5 of its General Provisions, stated "It shall be the duty of Congress, as soon as circumstances will permit, to provide, by law, a general system of education." On April 18, 1838, "An Act to Establish the University of Texas" was referred to a special committee of the Texas Congress, but was not reported back for further action. On January 26, 1839, the Texas Congress agreed to set aside fifty leagues of land (approx. 288,000 acres) towards the establishment of a publicly funded university. In addition, 40 acres in the new capital of Austin were reserved and designated "College Hill." (The term "Forty Acres" is colloquially used to refer to the University as a whole. The original forty acres is the area from Guadalupe to Speedway and 21st Street to 24th Street).
In 1845, Texas was annexed into the United States. Interestingly, the state's Constitution of 1845 failed to mention the subject of higher education. On February 11, 1858, the Seventh Texas Legislature approved O.B. 102, an act to establish the University of Texas, which set aside $100,000 in United States bonds toward construction of the state's first publicly funded university. When Texas emerged from its fight for independence from Mexico in 1836, the state contained of 225,299,800 acres of land. At the time the Republic of Texas entered the Union in 1845, it possessed 186,658,883 acres. Under the provisions of the Compromise of 1850, Texas and the federal government agreed the state would sell and relinquish claims on lands totaling 67,000,000 acres in exchange for $10 million dollars. The lands became portions of Wyoming, Kansas, New Mexico, and Colorado. The $100,000 set aside as the University's Permanent University Fund was an allocation from the $10 million received from the federal government in 1850.
In addition to placing $100,000 in the university's permanent fund, the legislature designated land previously reserved for the encouragement of railroad construction as part of the university's endowment. On January 31, 1860, the state legislature, wanting to avoid raising taxes, passed an act authorizing the money allocated to the the University of Texas endowment to instead be used for frontier defense in west Texas, to protect settlers from Indian attacks. Texas' secession from the Union and the American Civil War delayed repayment of the borrowed monies. At the end of the Civil War in 1865, The University of Texas' endowment consisted of a little over $16,000 in state treasury warrants of dubious value and $0.57 in actual cash. To date, nothing substantive had yet been done to organize the university's operations.
In 1866, there were discussions in the legislature concerning the establishment of two separate universities in Texas, one styled "The University of Texas" (as set forth in 1858), the other styled "East Texas University." On November 12, 1866 the legislature considered a bill to amend the Act of 1858 that established the University of Texas, to provide for a second public university. The measure was defeated and no action was ever taken to establish a second public university. Eventually, the Seventeenth Legislature, with the agreement of the State Teachers' Association of Texas, would later clarify that the intent of the legislature was to establish but one public university.
Establishment Article 7, Section 13 of the Texas Constitution of 1876 decreed the Agricultural and Mechanical College would be constituted as a branch of the University of Texas. The "Separate but Equal" Prairie View A&M University was founded at the same time to be a part of the state's agricultural college.
The establishment of the state's Agricultural and Mechanical college was certainly not effected without great opposition. Before the Civil War, most Southerners and Democrats had been opposed to the idea of using the proceeds of the sales of federal land for establishing colleges for the teaching of what was commonly referred to as "agricultural and mechanical arts." Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi had spoken for most Southerners and Texans when he denounced the land-grant proposals as potentially dangerous invasions by the federal government into the domestic rights of the states. Most of the Texas congressional delegation agreed. The logic of Southern opposition was based on their desire to see the involvement of the federal government in state activities (including higher education) constrained.
In 1871, the Legislature designated $75,000 and a minimum of 1,200 acres on which to build A&M. Governor Davis appointed three commissioners to identify a location for the agricultural school. The commissioners selected a section of land outside of Bryan in the Brazos Valley. Politics and money undoubtedly played a role in the decision of where to locate A&M. There are even rumors that Bryan businessman Harvey Mitchell won the location of the college in a poker game in Houston. In the end, the conflict of where to site the college was settled, but the overall development of the agricultural branch college of The University of Texas was part of the much larger clash between Democrats and Radical Republicans which defined Texas politics during the waning days of Reconstruction.
In the midst of the political turmoil, the commissioners spent an initial $38,000 for the college's first building and for one cistern. These funds were wasted. Governor Davis sent a team of inspectors to the site who deemed the construction unacceptable. Texas A&M was off to a wobbly start.
In 1873, Democrats regained control of the state with the election of Richard Coke who reversed many of the actions of his Republican predecessor (Gov. Davis had served in the Union cavalry, and favored universal suffrage for former slaves, as well as disenfranchisement of former Confederates. Many of the acts of his administration were immediately attacked by Democrats, regardless of their merits, simply because they were associated with Radical Republican governance). Under Governor Coke, Republicans were condemned as "fanatics" who had tried to "mongrelize" the Lone Star State by sinking it to the infernal depths of so-called "Negro Equality." The Democrats successfully put forth the thoroughly discredited, yet powerful "carpetbagger" myth--the idea that a Republican party coalition of ex-slaves, "scalawags," and Northern adventurers ran Texas in a despotic fashion after the Civil War. Democratic leaders claimed "carpet bag heroes" and "vagabond politicians" had secured "a place in the Agricultural College," and because of it's "Northern heritage" the college would be "worse than the Egyptian blight."
The 1871 bill to establish the A. and M. College of Texas obligated the State of Texas to establish, if state officials chose to segregate white from black students, another federally supported land-grant school for blacks, which subsequently became Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College (known today as "Prairie View A&M University"). On no other condition could Texas have received the grant. As a consequence, most Democrats denounced the "Yankee-inspired" A&M College Bill, claiming that it would be a waste of taxpayers money to educate blacks because the result would only destroy good field hands. The perceived illegitimate status of the Agricultural and Mechanical College would have a severe impact on its operations. The Democrats not only made the A&M college a branch of The University of Texas, the Democratic controlled legislature also drastically cut state funding for the college, and contemplated putting off opening the branch at Prairie View--a course of action that not only would have violated federal requirements but also would have risked the forfeiture of the land grants. Sufficient state appropriations to put Texas A&M on a working basis were not provided until the early 20th century. As late as 1914 the Texas legislature came within a handful of votes from moving the college, along with its land grant, to San Antonio and converting every building on the A&M campus in that year into "an asylum for the Negro insane." For decades after, A&M supporters would claim the Board of Regents of The University of Texas were responsible for the hardships of the college. In reality, the perceived illegitimate status of the college that was "neither of or by the people of Texas" made the school a second class institution in the eyes of the Democratic controlled legislature.
Lacking both political and popular support for the college, the A&M Board of Directors met for the first time on June 1, 1875. The Directors named Jefferson Davis, former President of the Confederacy and ardent opponent of the Morrill Act, as their choice to be college president Davis had previously been offered the position of Chancellor of the University of Georgia). Davis refused, reportedly on account of not wanting to live anywhere close to College Station, Texas, but he recommended Thomas Sanford Gathright in his place. It is suspected, but not confirmed, that Gathright had highly offended Davis at some earlier time and that Davis had vowed to seek his revenge on Gathright.[As an aside, When Davis died in 1898, he was so revered on the A&M campus, the school held an elaborate memorial service for him where he was lauded as "a hero, warrior and statesman."]
Gathright accepted the appointment as college president and the college was scheduled to open its doors on September 17, 1876. But September 17, 1876 came and went, without the college opening its doors.
On the slated opening day, only six students showed up to enroll for classes, far fewer than necessary if the college were to be able to operate. According to Charles Rogan, one of the original A&M students, the six initial students were Charles Rogan of Giddings, TX; Henry E. Vernor of Bryan, TX; Harry G. Smith of Bryan, TX; William Keifer of Bryan, TX; Barton B. Hand of College Station, TX; and Ed W. Shands of Austin, TX.
The original faculty, in addition to President Gaithright, were Alexander Hogg (Pure Mathematics); R.P.W. Morris (Applied Mathematics and Military Tactics); John T. Hand (Ancient Languages and Literature); Rev. C.P.B. Martin (Practical Agriculture, Chemistry and Natural Sciences); William A. Banks (Modern Languages and English Literature); D. Port Smythe (College Surgeon); and Hamilton P. Bee (Steward).
Between September 17, and October 4, 1876, additional students began to arrive. On October 4, 1876, six professors and 106 students were present and the college was officially opened.
Branch College Status Davis toiled to make the state's agricultural college a branch of The University for one simple reason - money.
The people of Texas accepted the terms of the Morrill Act and established the agricultural college under the expectation that the college's federal endowment would pay for the operation of the college and the people would not have to pay for its support. In reality, the college's endowment was sufficient to pay for the salaries of the professors and administrators of the college. Costs for buildings, roads, cisterns, laboratories, books, and the like, required legislative appropriation from the state treasury. The Civil War and Reconstruction took a heavy toll on the Texas economy. It wasn't until 1877 that the taxable property of the state matched its 1860 value, and by 1877, the population of Texas was four times what it was in 1860. The larger population placed increased demands upon the state treasury, but tax revenues lagged far behind. The agricultural college's supporters convinced themselves if the college were to be made a branch of The University, it would be the university's only operating branch and would have sole access to the interest accruing in the Permanent University Fund.
While supporters of the agricultural college tried to leverage their status as a branch of The University to the college's financial advantage, they mostly succeeded only in further alienating and offending those in positions of influence, not the least of whom was Governor Oran M. Roberts, who took office in January 1879. Most Texans, Gov. Roberts included, considered A&M's status as a branch of The University not only heresy, but downright anathema. That the illegitimate, bastard Yankee college would be mentioned in the same breath as the state's namesake university was beyond offensive to most Texans. Governor Roberts worked to make sure the college became what he believed the law intended - a manual labor school.
To be precise, Texas A&M is a branch of The University of Texas at Austin by fact that the college was designated as a branch of The University of Texas by the Texas Constitution of 1876. From 1876 to 1967, nothing was ever done to sever the college's status as a branch of The University of Texas. In 1967, the name of The University of Texas was changed to The University of Texas at Austin. Even during the creation and development of the University of Texas System, the status of the agricultural branch college was never addressed, so the status of Texas A&M as a branch of UT Austin remains unchanged to this day.
Any discussion of The University of Texas at Austin and its agricultural branch college needs to take note of the fact the operation of the agricultural branch college has, from its inception, been handled by the college's Board of Directors and not directly by the University's Board of Regents.
One main reason divided oversight was implemented was that the agricultural branch college and the main university were designed to operate on two different models and with two distinctly different objectives in mind. The main university was modeled after The University of Virginia ("Mr. Jefferson's university") and was intended to offer an extremely high quality version of a traditional literary education. The agricultural branch college was modeled after Michigan State University. The agricultural branch college was intended to offer a less academically rigorous, technical education concentrated on skills necessary to ensure the agricultural economy of the state was supported with the technical and scientific knowledge it needed to prosper in an age where mechanization was radically changing how farmers and ranchers operated.
Admission to the main university was reserved for those who were 18 and over, while admission to the agricultural branch college was allowed for boys as young as 13. The reading requirement for admission to the agricultural college was only that one be able to read "in the fifth reader." At the main university in Austin, the education offered was highly centered on classical studies and required an extensive preparatory background. At the agricultural branch college, there were precious few books and readin', ritin' and 'rithmatic were not as much a part of the curriculum as was hands-on, practical experience.
Considering the University Board of Regents was comprised of learned intellectuals and the agricultural branch college was focused on teaching often incorrigible 13 year old farm boys to milk cows and fix plows, the Board of Regents gladly delegated oversight of the agricultural branch college to the college's Board of Directors. (It was not until the administration of school president David Franklin Houston, 1902-1905, that the age for admission was raised to 16, thus "relieving the college of its prep school tinge and the stigma it had had of being a reformatory for boys who were past handling at home.")
Financial concerns also were at play in the decision to operate the agricultural branch college under divided oversight. Under the Morrill Land Grant Act, Texas was granted 180,000 acres of federal land, largely in eastern Colorado, the sale of which netted $174,000. This money was invested in frontier defense bonds and formed the endowment for the agricultural branch college that was separate from the Permanent University Fund, the endowment of the state's namesake university. While the university did contribute materially to the maintenance of its agricultural branch college, the separate and distinct endowments necessitated separate accounting. As the goals of the two institutions differed greatly and the finances were kept separate, the University of Texas Regents were more than happy to relieve themselves of the burden of managing the affairs of the agricultural branch college.
For a number of reasons, A&M fared poorly in the early years. The college lacked the faculty and the funds to administer a model farm. The practical implication of this was that the college has to rely on the results of experiments done at other land-grant schools. This was less than optimal, as it delayed scientific advancement, and the experiments performed in other states were not always applicable to conditions faced by farmers and ranchers in Texas. Another problem for the school was, although the school was supposed to me modeled after Michigan State, because the Land Grant Act had only been relatively recently enacted and was experimental in its very nature, there was no proven model for school administrators to follow in setting curriculum, establishing necessary equipment lists, methods of exchanging information, development of collaborative activities, and other such facts of academia we take for granted today.
Many people erroneously believe Texas A&M was established as a military college. This is unquestionably not the case. While the Morrill Act stipulated Land Grant colleges were required to teach military tactics, the Act gave great latitude to the individual institutions as to how they would fulfill the requirement. The reasoning for such latitude was simple, the U.S. Constitution did not grant Congress any power to exert control over state militias. As Land Grant colleges were state and not federal institutions, Congress could not mandate standards of military training for forces not under direct federal authority.
Texas A&M did not establish its Corps of Cadets to prepare individuals for military service. The A&M Corps of Cadets was established to provide a system of discipline for the delinquent teenage farm boys whose parents all too often sent them to the college out of exasperation, hoping the military style discipline would make their sons less incorrigible. The delinquent youth that comprised a majority of the student body would prove to be problematic for decades to come and for its first three decades of operation, the college was considered more a reform school than an institution of higher education.
Politics and personalities also played a problematic role in the early days of A&M. The state Grange fought for control over what would be taught at the school. Many in the state hadn't yet seen the need for teaching of agriculture and ridiculed the college. Another significant reason the college struggled so mightily was because the college's Board of Directors served two-year terms. Governors commonly placed their political cronies on the board and pressured these men to follow the executive agenda. A major problem was the internal politics within the faculty of the school itself.
In assembling the faculty to open the school, President Gaithright sought out the best men he could find, and the group professors he assembled all were either previously president or commandant at another institution before coming to A&M. While this gave the initial faculty depth of experience, it also meant each faculty member was used to working autonomously and acting on their own authority. As soon as Gaithright began to exercise his authority as college president, frictions began to develop. These frictions continue to grow through the first three years of Gaithright's administration until on the evening of November 21, 1879 President Gaithright received a knock on his door and he was informed the college Board of Directors had elected as his successor John Garland James, of the Texas Military Institute of Austin. Additionally, with the sole exception of Louis Lowry McInnis, the Directors had decided to replace the entire faculty. On Monday, November 24, 1879 the new faculty took charge.
Internal political strife; disarray in developing a curriculum; lack of facilities; inadequate leadership; gross financial mismanagement; and wavering public support had its effects on enrollment. In the fall of 1876 enrollment stood at 106, in 1877 it rose to 331. Then, it began to fall precipitously, to 248 in 1878, and to 144 in 1879. Clearly the people were losing faith in the college, its leadership and its mission. With the 188 opening of the main branch in Austin, enrollment would fall below that of the school's initial class.
Many less knowledgeable have long tried to blame the University of Texas Board of Regents for hindering the development of the agricultural branch college. In reality, the problems that have so often beset the agricultural branch college have almost always been directly traceable to a lack of leadership; poor planning on the part of the college's administrators; and the perceived illegitimate status of the college that was created by federal interference into the state's affairs and not a product or creation of the people of Texas. From the day it first opened, the administrators of the main university in Austin have wanted nothing to do with the administration of the agricultural branch college and, in fact, have stridently and repeatedly tried to sever the branch college from the main university. (Not all Land Grant colleges prospered. For example, in Louisiana, the Land Grant agricultural college failed and its operations were combined with those of the main branch of the state university. To this day, the official name of Louisiana State University is "Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College.")
College administrators did themselves no favors when in early 1885, George Pfeuffer, President of the college's Board of Directors, used his position as a Texas state senator to effectively declare war on the University of Texas by introducing a bill in the state legislature that would have closed the University, re-opened it some time later in a drastically weakened form and thus made the A&M College the state's preeminent public institution of higher education (and, of course, also made the A&M College the primary benefactor of the University's endowment fund). The timing of this was not advantageous as at the time, public confidence in the college was very low and the academic situation at the school was in such a shambles, graduates received diplomas, but they were not qualified to receive college degrees.
Pfeuffer's scheme failed in the legislature and is widely credited as the inception of years of bad relations between the directors of the branch agricultural college and the University's Board of Regents. These bad relations did little to help supporters of the college gain the cooperation of those in the legislature as well as throughout the state who supported the goals of the University. In January 1887, the University Board of Regents notified the college Board of Directors that the entirety of the income from the University's endowment fund was to be spent on supporting the University. The college directors responded by having a bill introduced in the state legislature that would have diverted 1/4 of the income from the University's endowment to the support of the college.That bill went nowhere, but poor relations between the University and the agricultural branch college were firmly established.
And then there were the problems created by having the misfortune of being located in College Station, Texas.
In the 1870s, various state Grange organizations pushed for independent agricultural colleges that offered only the most limited classical curriculum. Farmers' organizations quickly became dissatisfied with the quantity and quality of agricultural education that the nation's land-grant colleges offered. In response, the national Grange established an ad hoc committee to investigate the curriculum at the land grant colleges in 1875. Dissatisfied over the absence of agricultural faculty, students, and model farms, the Grange recommended that the states place the land grant colleges under exclusive control of the nation's farmers. Texas farmers joined in this criticism and opposed efforts to allow classical studies at A&M. The Texas Grange issued a harsh critique of the college in 1880 when its leaders complained of the absence of qualified agricultural faculty. In its fifth year, A&M possessed but one agricultural instructor who was better versed in Shakespeare than the science of farming.
The Morrill Act's vague mandate for the land-grant colleges to provide military training gave them great latitude in meeting this requirement. The Act didn't mandate military training, it only mandated classes in military studies be made available to students. Most land-grant institutions outside of the South merely expected male students to participate in a few drills each week. The Southern land-grants, all of whom accepted the terms of the Morrill Act after the Civil War, embraced the military requirement enthusiastically and saw their college military programs as the continued embodiment of "The Lost Cause." Southern military programs were also used to maintain order at colleges that enrolled young, ill-prepared, farm boys. This was very much the case at Texas A&M.
Interestingly, Thomas Gaithright, A&M's first president, was wholly opposed to military discipline. It was R.P.W. Morris, the school's first Commandant, who insisted on military discipline for the students. Gaithright found the military discipline practiced on the campus to be an annoyance.
In his 1880 report to the Texas A&M Directors, President John James, a retired colonel and former superintendent of the Texas Military Institute, cited the important role the college's military-style discipline program played in promoting self-discipline and building character in the incorrigible farm boys the college attracted. Military-style training also promoted equality. Poor farm boys did not have money for fancy clothes. Uniforms were cheap in price and class distinctions were indistinguishable if everyone dressed alike. With the accoutrements of poverty banished from sight, a young man could prove himself in drills and move up in the ranks of his military-style unit.
By 1879, the school was held in low esteem by most Texans. In the state press, the Farmer's Review praised the usefulness of agricultural and mechanical colleges, but found the one on the Brazos "worse than useless for agricultural purposes," and concluded that any cadet who graduated in all its branches "would play sad havoc upon an experimental or any other kind of farm." The Houston Age considered the college an "ornamental but useless institution." The Houston Telegram hoped "the deceptive and deceitful school will either be suppressed altogether," or that the name would be changed and a program of agriculture and mechanics be initiated, something that had until now been of no more concern than "voodooism." The Gonzales Inquirer complained the college was supposed to have been self-sustaining and asked what it had "ever done for itself or the state."
The school's fortunes improved, somewhat, with the 1890 election of Governor L.S. Ross as the school's new president, an event that proved instrumental in improving relations with (and funding from) the state legislature. An editorial in The Galveston Daily News, July 12, 1890, a few days after Ross' election as school president had this to say about the condition of the school at the time;
Governor Ross will at the expiration of his term assume the executive and administrative functions of the Agricultural and Mechanical College. It is well known that the college needs management. It has been in bad shape for some time. A reference to the legislation of the past few years will show it has been liberally if not munificently supported by appropriations from the university fund of the state treasury. The more money provided, the more offices created and buildings erected, the less promising the actual condition of the institution. Students were discouraged and left by the score, professors were dissatisfied, the faculty was rent into factions, discipline was lacking, scandals were rife and serious trouble apprehended.
Brig. Gen. Lawrence Sullivan Ross, CSA (Ret.)
Read more about the questionable legacy of Brig. Gen Lawrence Sullivan Ross, CSA (ret).
Attempts to End Branch College Status
Governor Thomas Campbell's January 1909 plea for greater efficiency in all state agencies and his May 1909 veto of construction appropriations for A&M, served as the catalysts for the separation of the agricultural branch college from the University. On January 14, 1909, Campbell observed that the State possessed more colleges and course offerings than it could financially support. The Legislature, UT, A&M, and the teachers' colleges, needed to administer higher education more efficiently through institutional consolidation or increased coordination of academic programs. Although the addition of new teachers colleges and regional state colleges placed a heavy financial burden upon the State, it was UT and A&M that posed the biggest financial obligations.
A&M had requested $95,500 from the Legislature to build one student residence hall, five faculty cottages, one central heating plant, and a small addition to the chemistry department. The Legislature approved A&M's budget, but Governor Campbell vetoed these construction items. Citing Section 13, Article 7 of the Texas Constitution, Campbell declared that A&M was not entitled to general funds for the purposes of construction since it was a branch of UT. Outraged, A&M President Milner wrote Campbell in October and called for meetings to discuss a legal separation from UT. Milner argued that the majority of Texans favored an amendment that would separate the two institutions. The Farmers' Congress was decisively in favor A&M's independence and Milner was receiving letters in favor of the divorce every day.
After the initial proposal to separate the two institutions failed, representatives from UT and A&M met to discuss how to proceed with a second attempt. A&M representatives proposed a constitutional amendment that would separate the two institutions and equally divide the one million acres allotted to the UT endowment in Article Seven, Section Fifteen of the Constitution of 1876. When the representatives reconvened the next day, the A&M Directors announced that they were willing to surrender their claim to 500,000 acres of University lands. To provide funding, the college's representatives again proposed a tax for the college's support. Governor Oscar Colquitt urged the Legislature to draft a constitutional amendment to separate UT and A&M and institute the proposed tax to support not only A&M, but all of the state's public colleges. A group of eight legislators introduced House Bill Seventy-Three during the Thirty-Second Legislature in 1911 to provide for this ad valorem tax, but the Senate defeated the measure.
University and the agricultural branch college administrators continued to advocate separation in 1913. At this time, a group of twelve legislators issued a proposal to have the University absorb its agricultural branch college into its main campus. The plan was to then convert the A&M campus into an insane asylum. The group used historical, environmental, and economic evidence to support their arguments. They obtained the support of former A&M Presidents David Houston (then U.S. Secretary of Agriculture) and H.H. Harrington. Houston cited A&M's location as its greatest obstacle both educationally and agriculturally. College Station was recognized as being geographically and intellectually isolated. Poor soil in the Brazos Valley prevented adequate experimentation. The group obtained statements from the State Cattle Raisers' Association and the Short-Horn Breeders' Association to show that A&M had failed to graduate enough practical farmers or to produce any significant and useful agricultural research.
The group of twelve reasoned that A&M's location precipitated the troublesome number of behavioral problems common with the college's students and faculty. One aspect of aggy culture, that both faculty members and students over-dramatized their problems, was noted by the group and attributed to the intellectual isolation of the campus (this aspect of aggy culture is as prevalent today as it was over 100 years ago). Behavioral problems aside, it was recognized Austin possessed superior land, climate, water, transportation, and intellectual stimulation (this, too, is as true today as it was over 100 years ago). In support of their proposition, the legislators cited an article from the March 21, 1913 edition of the Dallas Morning News, which argued that all parties involved seemed to be in favor of the consolidation plan with the exception of A&M President Milner and a handful of former A&M students. William Trenckmann, A&M Class of '79 and former president of the A&M Directors, issued a statement in favor of eventual consolidation.
The state legislature took up the issue in 1915 and crafted the Sackett Amendment (House Joint Resolution 34). The Sackett Amendment legally separated the two institutions, established a tax similar to the one proposed in 1911, and received the support of UT and A&M representatives. In the end, the legislation was passed by the legislature but the citizens defeated the constitutional proposition.
The two governing boards again joined forces with the Legislature in 1919 to draft yet another proposed constitutional amendment. House Joint Resolution 29 separated the two institutions and gave A&M one-third and UT two-thirds of the university endowment. Far fewer citizens participated, but the results were the same. The people voted against the proposition.
By 1920, efforts to separate the two institutions were right where they were in 1909. Since 1920, whenever the subject of separating the two institutions has been brought up, those loyal to Texas A&M have refused to allow the subject to even be discussed in the legislature. A&M's "little brother" status as a branch of The University of Texas, once a point of contention, seems to be something those loyal to A&M have come to hold quite near and dear and it seems clear they will never readily give it up. To this day, no constitutional amendment to separate the two institutions has been approved by the voters and constitutionally, Texas A&M University remains a branch of the University of Texas of Austin.
Struggles to Grow
From the day the of its first operations, A&M struggled to find its place in the world. All too often, in trying to find its proper place, A&M sought to offer classes already being taught at the main university. Inevitably, this resulted in wasteful and unnecessary duplication of programs already being taught at a much higher level on the campus of the main university. The settlement of curriculum disputes lead to anger on the part of those attached to the agricultural branch college as debates over A&M's competing for state funds to support unnecessarily duplicative programs were, most often, resolved in favor of the institution best capable of offering the program. And that institution, most often, was the main university in Austin. This tended to incite extreme jealousy on the part of the Board of Directors of the agricultural branch college. Over time, this extreme jealousy of the main University in Austin would become a defining characteristic of the college's Board of Directors and would consume their every action.
From the beginning, there were many who were opposed to the establishment of the agricultural branch college in 1876 on various, well founded grounds. Dating back to 1871, there were debates whether A&M should be a stand-alone institution delivering a classical as well as an agricultural and engineering curriculum or a branch college of the state's namesake university, offering a less academically rigorous agricultural curriculum. Debates over the mission of A&M hindered its development for the better part of its first century of existence. Beginning in the early 1930s, A&M went through an especially difficult period which A&M historian Henry Dethloff described as being "academically stagnant." In 1937, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools denied accreditation to the school's chemical engineering department and issued scathing evaluations of several of the college's programs. The accrediting body deemed the library inadequate and stated that the institution had devoted too much money to building construction at the expense of hiring quality faculty. Over time, aggy "peacockery" and "appearance over substance" would grow to be defining characteristics of the college.
It bears noting that while A&M was meandering aimlessly through the wilderness of academia, the main university in Austin had maintained a laser sharp focus on its mission and, in 1929, was admitted to the highly prestigious Association of American Universities, a distinction not achieved by A&M until 2001, and only then with the selfless and substantial assistance of the senior administrators of The University of Texas.
The era of the greatest change at TAMU was the immediate post-WWII era, when soldiers exercising their G.I. Bill benefits caused enrollments to soar. Paradoxically, this was also the era when many of the college's established, but less formal, customs such as yell practice and bonfire were converted into sacred rituals. Students dubbed anyone who challenged traditional campus activities "a villain who threatened the very mission of A&M." Many cadets cited outstanding alumni performances during World War II to justify their new commitment to tradition and militarism. Aggie students and alumni began to grow increasingly resistant to any type of change at the college over the next two decades.The aggys refer to sensationalized reverence to tradition and over-the-top expression of dedication to their college as being "Red-Assed." It is not known where the term "Red-Assed" originated, but the term is consistent with the highly scatological nature of many aggy customs, traditions, rituals and jargon. Some of these include ritual group masturbation into a communal Mason jar on the evening prior to rivalry football games; gathering of rancid animals from state roadsides, slathering them with human semen and placing them on the college campus as offerings; the constriction and mutilation of one's genitals to simulate shared effort with sports teams; and the making of wagers to be settled by the loser smearing his hand with human feces, slapping himself on the cheek and smearing excrement across his face.
Enrollment stood at roughly 2,000 in 1944 - 1945 and increased to 2,718 in January 1946. By September 1946, enrollment was 8,200 -- roughly 5,200 were married veterans. The college had to feed, house, and teach students on a campus that had never previously accommodated more than 5,000 students. Many of these veterans had no interest in donning the corps uniform and certainly were not at the college to build bonfire, enjoy football games, or engage in "undergraduate pranks" that anyone but an aggy would define as hazing.
Veterans who had served at least one year in the armed services and all students over the age of twenty-one were exempted from service in the Corps of Cadets. Upperclassmen were prohibited from commandeering first-year students to perform chores, complete drills, and submit to physical abuse. Corps Commandant Colonel Guy Meloy distributed the new regulations to outraged cadets on January 21, 1947. Many cadets responded to Meloy by tearing their copies of the regulations in half. The members of the Corps of Cadets, 2,100 strong, marched to the college President's home and threatened to resign from their posts if the new regulations remained in effect. Expecting president Gilchrist to cave in, the cadets were shocked when he responded, 'I accept your resignations.'
A number of organizations, including chapters of the A&M alumni association called for a thorough, unbiased investigation of events at the college. In response, the Legislature formed a joint committee to determine the nature of the conflict and whether A&M students or administrators had violated any State laws or policies. Following 44 hours and 1500 pages of testimony, the Committee submitted their findings to House Speaker W.O. Reed and Lt. Governor Shivers on June 6, 1947.
The investigating committee believed that the conflict was primarily the result of postwar transition. A&M had yet to resettle into peacetime functioning and College President Gilchrist and his staff were partially to blame for the crisis because they failed to "command the full respect" of the Corps and the veterans who had enrolled as students. The Committee reminded the students and administrators that A&M belonged to the citizens of Texas -- not the Corps or any other disgruntled special interest group. Battalion editor Charles Murray and anonymous members of the editorial staff suggested that A&M transform into a more traditional structure, similar to all other civilian ROTC colleges. The group pointed out that A&M and Clemson were the only land-grant colleges that still maintained all-male compulsory military programs. They did not criticize Clemson, but they argued that the single-sex policy no longer made sense. Don Durnel, class of 1946 wrote, "We have all heard--'When in Rome, do as the Romanians.' Well, this is Aggieland--be an Aggie or git out." Others singled out Murray by drenching him with buckets of water.
1963 Name Change.
The open declaration that "A&M stands for nothing" immediately became yet another long-running, self-written aggy joke.
The Legislature agreed with the decision to change the name of the institution and passed House Bill 755, codifying the change.
Instantly, the decision to change the name of the institution met with vociferous objection from those who valued turdition over the goal of bringing TAMU into modern relevancy. Those objecting expressed concern what the name change would mean to the school's logos. These objections were quelled when the school administrators decided to allow students to decide whether their diploma would read "college" or "university" through 1967.
aggy has had difficulty in keeping up with the rest of society.
Read more about it here: aggypedia: aggy Social Progress
Corps of Cadets
aggy loves to play dress-up soldier.
Read more here: aggypedia: Corps of Cadets
Operating Budget and Endowment
Hearing supporters of the Agricultural and Mechanical college discuss the school's endowment has long brought laughter to Texans.
By virtue of its Land Grant heritage, the agricultural branch college of The University of Texas was granted an endowment of $174,000 in 1876. This was supplemented over time by gifts from the legislature. The endowment was entirely separate from the University's endowment which was initially funded with an $100,000 allocation of the money the state received from the federal government pursuant to The Compromise of 1850, and supplemented with lands that over time totaled more than 2.2 million acres of land. The financial assets of the University endowment, which were valued at $0.57 in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, today total over $17 billion dollars. With the lands valued in excess of $8 billion, the value of the Permanent University Fund, the endowment of The University of Texas System, is more than $25 billion. In addition to the Permanent University Fund, The University of Texas System Board of Regents administer privately funded university endowments, given by alumni and benefactors, of an additional $17 billion. The $42 billion of UT System endowment assets are actively managed by The University of Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO), located in Austin, TX, with help from the University Lands office, located in Midland, TX.
What makes the massive endowment claims of the agricultural branch college of The University of Texas so comical is that in recent years, they have publicly claimed to be the nation's wealthiest public university, supposedly having an endowment in excess of $11 billion. This claim is yet another example of the need of the aggy culture to resort to dishonesty, grand embellishment, puffery, "peacockery," and outright buffoonery to make the public image of the institution appear far more substantial than it is in reality. It is the "little brother syndrome" on steroids.
The A&M claim to an $11 billion endowment is entirely predicated upon a representation that the school has as part of their endowment one-third of the assets of the UT endowment. This is unquestionably an intentionally false representation.
Usually, when a university makes a claim regarding the level of assets in their endowment, they refer to some independent and verifiable source to support their claim. In the case of Texas A&M University, they refer to the information provided by the annual National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) Endowment Study. As explained by Kenneth Redd, Director, Research and Policy Analysis at NACUBO, the association does not actually calculate or verify the level of assets in any school's endowment. Rather, NACUBO simply relies on whatever number is provided by the institution. In other words, the actual "independent" source Texas A&M University administrators assert as the basis for their endowment claims is none other than the administrators of Texas A&M University. They use themselves as the "independent" source of their information.
According to figures provided by the Director of Research and Policy Analysis at NACUBO, for the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) Endowment Study released on January 27, 2016, Texas A&M University administrators represented the combined endowment for all TAMU System institutions was $10.447 billion. Of this $10.447 billion, the Texas A&M University Foundation had assets valued at $1.19 billion (as of June 30, 2015), and the endowment of the TAMU dental college was $68.3 million. TAMU administrators represented the remaining $9.189 billion was TAMU's portion of the University of Texas PUF endowment fund. According to UTIMCO, the investment manager of all UT System endowment funds, the securities balance of the PUF was $17.4 billion (as of Aug 31, 2015). The PUF lands were valued at roughly $8 billion, for a total PUF value of $25.49 billion. Of this, TAMU administrators assert they control $9.189 billion, or 36% of the total. When making their fraudulent endowment representations to NACUBO, the Texas A&M Administrators misrepresented what one-third (33%) of the University of Texas PUF endowment fund would be by representing they controlled 36% of the fund. In reality, the level of the TAMU System endowment that should have been reported to NACUBO would have been $1.258 billion, the total of the assets of the TAMU Foundation and the dental school endowment.
The A&M claim to one-third of the University of Texas PUF endowment fund is based on a decision made over 100 years ago by the Texas legislature to direct one-third of the income of the University endowment to the benefit of its agricultural branch college. This arrangement was codified by the legislature in 1931, and the arrangement was adopted by the people in 1956 by passage of a constitutional amendment. To be clear, the arrangement was that the agricultural branch college was entitled to income from the University PUF endowment fund. Never was the agricultural branch college granted as much as $0.01 of the actual PUF. This, however, has never stopped the A&M faithful from representing otherwise. To the A&M contingent, truth is an inconvenience, not a cultural value.
In reality, Texas A&M has no state funded endowment whatsoever. The total endowment of the Texas A&M University System is the $1.258 billion, which is the combined total of the assets of the Texas A&M University Foundation and the A&M dental school endowment.. The total endowment dedicated to the Texas A&M University, College Station campus, as of December 31, 2015, was $259.9 million.
Credits and Attribution
This section has been compiled with the benefit of the works of others who deserve credit for their research.
I have liberally used the writings of Susan Richardson in compiling this page and proper credit must be given to her for her exceptional research and writing in her work:
OIL, POWER, AND UNIVERSITIES: POLITICAL STRUGGLE AND ACADEMIC ADVANCEMENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AND TEXAS A&M, 1876-1965; A Thesis in
Higher Education submitted to The Pennsylvania State University, College of Education; 2007; https://etda.libraries.psu.edu/files/final_submissions/5766
Additional credit goes to Charles R. Matthews, for his work:
THE EARLY YEARS OF THE PERMANENT UNIVERSITY FUND FROM 1836 TO 1937; Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of The University of Texas at Austin in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education; 2006; http://www.lib.utexas.edu/etd/d/2006/matthewsc64304/matthewsc64304.pdf
Likewise, to Grant David Abston, B.S. for his work:
Integrating Texas Athletics: The Forgotten Story of the First Black Basketball Players; Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Texas at Austin in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts; 2011; https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/handle/2152/ETD-UT-2011-05-3209
Those wishing to learn more about the early history of the A&M College may want to refer to the works of David Brooks Cofer, the institution's first archivist who, in the early 1950s, asked former students to send letters telling of their recollections of their time at the school. Much of the content of those letters served as the basis for a series or publications authored by Cofer, and published by the Texas A&M University press in 1953. Those include:
First Five Administrators of Texas A. and M. College, 1876-1890; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b34717;view=2up;seq=4
Second Five Administrators of Texas A. and M. College, 1890-1905.; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b34719;view=2up;seq=4
Early History of Texas A. and M. College through Letters and Papers.; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b34716;view=1up;seq=7
Fragments of Early History of Texas A. and M. College.; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015067203722;view=1up;seq=5
Supplement to First Five Administrators of Texas A. & M. College, James Reid Cole, 1879-1885
Additional resources by various authors include:
The History of the A. & M. College Trouble, 1908; Casey, Paul D.; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=loc.ark:/13960/t1hh75d2z;view=2up;seq=8
Gold Book, Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas; A tribute to her sons who paid the supreme sacrifice in the World War https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=loc.ark:/13960/t6d22mk0p;view=2up;seq=6
Progress report for twelve years of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, 1925-1937; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924001015423;view=2up;seq=4
75th anniversary, 1876-1951; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015063993839;view=2up;seq=4
- TAMU NCAA Member Financial Reporting System report. 2020. p. 68.
- Lane, John J. (1903). History of Education in Texas. United States Bureau of Economics. p. 124.
- Matthews, Charles Ray (2006). The Early Years of the Permanent University Fund from 1836 to 1937. UMI (UMI Number 3284727). p. 32.
- Lane, John J. (1903). History of Education in Texas. United States Bureau of Economics. p. 133.
- Lane, John J. (1903). History of Education in Texas. United States Bureau of Economics. p. 133.
- Lane, John J. (1891). History of the University of Texas: Based on Facts and Records. Henry Hutchings, Texas State Printer. p. 193.
- Second five administrators of Texas A. and M. College, 1890-1905.;Cofer, David Brooks.;p.8, see also p.51
- Early history of Texas A. and M. College through letters; Cofer, David Brooks; p.107; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b34716;view=2up;seq=112
- Early history of Texas A. and M. College through letters; Cofer, David Brooks; p.108; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b34716;view=2up;seq=114
- First five administrators of Texas A. and M. College, 1876-1890; Cofer, David Brooks; p.8; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b34717;view=2up;seq=10
- First five administrators of Texas A. and M. College, 1876-1890; Cofer, David Brooks; p.8; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b34717;view=2up;seq=10
- Tomlinson, Marie Guy; The State Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, 1871-1879: the personalities, politics, and uncertainties; 1976 Thesis, Texas A&M University; p.168; http://aggypedia.com/w/images/d/da/Tomlinson_thesis.pdf
- Tomlinson, Marie Guy; The State Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, 1871-1879: the personalities, politics, and uncertainties; 1976 Thesis, Texas A&M University; p.362; http://aggypedia.com/w/images/d/da/Tomlinson_thesis.pdf
- Tomlinson, Marie Guy; The State Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, 1871-1879: the personalities, politics, and uncertainties; 1976 Thesis, Texas A&M University; p.398; http://aggypedia.com/w/images/d/da/Tomlinson_thesis.pdf
- Second five administrators of Texas A. and M. College, 1890-1905.; Cofer, David Brooks.; p.127; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b34719;view=2up;seq=130
- Lane, John J. (1903). History of Education in Texas. United States Bureau of Economics. p. 270.
- Dallas Morning News; October 1, 1910; p.13; http://infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/image/v2%3A0F99DDB671832188%40EANX-NB-106DE59319C4E71D%402418946-106DE5956D94DB07%4036-106DE59D8044B3AE%40Texas%2BA.%2B%2BM.%2BCollege%2BRanks%2Bamong%2BBest%2Bin%2Bthe%2BCountry?p=AMNEWS
- First five administrators of Texas A. and M. College, 1876-1890.: Cofer, David Brooks.: p. 17; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b34717;view=2up;seq=18
- First five administrators of Texas A. and M. College, 1876-1890.: Cofer, David Brooks.: p. 8; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b34717;view=2up;seq=10
- Lane, John J; History of The University of Texas Based on Facts and Records, 1891; p.55
- Dallas Morning News; October 1, 1910; p.13; http://infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/image/v2%3A0F99DDB671832188%40EANX-NB-106DE59319C4E71D%402418946-106DE5956D94DB07%4036-106DE59D8044B3AE%40Texas%2BA.%2B%2BM.%2BCollege%2BRanks%2Bamong%2BBest%2Bin%2Bthe%2BCountry?p=AMNEWS
- Matthews, Charles R.; The Early Years of the Permanent University Fund From 1836 TO 1937; University of Texas Doctoral Thesis, 2006; p.77
- First five administrators of Texas A. and M. College, 1876-1890; Cofer, David Brooks; p.10; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b34717;view=2up;seq=12
- Tomlinson, Marie Guy; The State Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, 1871-1879: the personalities, politics, and uncertainties; 1976 Thesis, Texas A&M University; p.584
- Second five administrators of Texas A. and M. College, 1890-1905.; Cofer, David Brooks.; p.63; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b34719;view=2up;seq=66
- OIL, POWER, AND UNIVERSITIES: POLITICAL STRUGGLE AND ACADEMIC ADVANCEMENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AND TEXAS A&M, 1876-1965; Susan Richardson; A Thesis in Higher Education submitted to The Pennsylvania State University, College of Education; 2007; https://etda.libraries.psu.edu/files/final_submissions/5766
- aggy FAQ, https://www.tamu.edu/about/faq.html#standFor
- Audited TAMU Financials. NCAA. 2015. p. 38/39.