Texas A&M

By Quinn Daniell

Texas A&M University (A&M or TAMU) is a coeducational public research university located in College Station, Texas, United States. It is the flagship institution of the Texas A&M University System, the fourth-largest university in the United States and the largest university in Texas.[12][13] Texas A&M's designation as a land, sea, and space grant institution reflects a broad range of research with ongoing projects funded by agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. The school ranks in the top 20 American research institutes in terms of funding and has made notable contributions to such fields as animal cloning and petroleum engineering.

The first public institution of higher education in Texas, though not the first general university in the state, the school opened on October 4, 1876[14] as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas under the provisions of the Morrill Land-Grant Acts. Originally, the college taught no classes in agriculture, instead concentrating on classical studies, languages, literature, and applied mathematics. After four years, students could attain degrees in scientific agriculture, civil and mining engineering, and language and literature.[15] Under the leadership of President James Earl Rudder, in the 1960s A&M desegregated, became coeducational, and dropped the requirement for participation in the Corps of Cadets. To reflect the institution's expanded roles and academic offerings, the Texas Legislature renamed the school to Texas A&M University in 1963. The letters "A&M", originally short for "Agricultural and Mechanical", are retained only as a link to the university's past. The school's students, alumni, and sports teams are known as "Aggies".

The main campus is one of the largest in America, spanning 5,500 acres (22 km2),[1][16] and includes the George Bush Presidential Library. Approximately one-fifth of the student body lives on campus. Texas A&M has approximately 800 officially recognized student organizations. Many students also observe the traditions of Texas A&M University, which govern daily life as well as special occasions, including sports events. On July 1, 2012, the school joined the Southeastern Conference. A&M operates two branches: Texas A&M at Qatar and Texas A&M University at Galveston. Working with agencies such as the Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M has a direct presence in each of the 254 counties in Texas. The university offers degrees in over 150 courses of study through ten colleges and houses 18 research institutes. Texas A&M has awarded over 320,000 degrees, including 70,000 graduate and professional degrees.

The U.S. Congress laid the groundwork for the establishment of Texas A&M in 1862 with the adoption of the Morrill Act. The act auctioned land grants of public lands to establish endowments for colleges where the "leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and mechanical arts... to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life".[17] In 1871, the Texas Legislature used these funds to establish the state's first public institution of higher education,[18] the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, then known as Texas A.M.C.[17] Brazos County donated 2,416 acres (10 km2) near Bryan, Texas, for the school's campus.[17]

Enrollment began on October 2, 1876. Six students enrolled on the first day, and classes officially began on October 4, 1876, with 6 faculty members. During the first semester, enrollment increased to 48 students, and by the end of the spring 1877 semester, 106 students had enrolled. Admission was limited to white males, and all students were required to participate in the Corps of Cadets and receive military training.[19] Although traditional Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets "campusologies" indicate 40 students began classes on October 4, 1876, the exact number of students enrolled on that day is unknown.[20] Enrollment climbed to 258 students before declining to 108 students in 1883, the year the University of Texas opened in Austin, Texas.[21] Though originally envisioned and annotated in the Texas Constitution as a branch of the University of Texas, Texas A.M.C. had a separate Board of Directors from the University of Texas from the first day of classes and was never enveloped into the University of Texas System.[17]

Statue of Lawrence Sullivan "Sul" Ross located in front of the Academic Building

In the late 1880s, many Texas residents saw no need for two colleges in Texas and clamored for an end of Texas A.M.C. In 1891, Texas A&M was saved from potential closure by its new president Lawrence Sullivan Ross, former governor of Texas, and well-respected Confederate Brigadier General. Ross made many improvements to the school and enrollment doubled to 467 cadets as parents sent their sons to Texas A&M "to learn to be like Ross".[22] During his tenure, many enduring Aggie traditions were born, including the creation of the first Aggie Ring.[22] After his death in 1898, a statue was erected in front of what is now Academic Plaza to honor Ross and his achievements in the history of the school.[22]

Under pressure from the legislature, in 1911 the school began allowing women to attend classes during the summer semester.[23] At the same time, A&M began expanding its academic pursuits with the establishment of the School of Veterinary Medicine in 1915.[17]

Many Texas A&M graduates served during World War I. By 1918, 49% of all graduates of the college were in military service, more than any other school.[17] In early September 1918, the entire senior class enlisted, with plans to send the younger students at staggered dates throughout the next year. Many of the seniors were fighting in France when the war ended two months later.[24] Over 1,200 former students served as commissioned officers. After the war, Texas A&M grew rapidly and became nationally recognized for its programs in agriculture, engineering, and military science.[17] The first graduate school was organized in 1924 and the school awarded its first PhD in 1940.[17] In 1925, Mary Evelyn Crawford Locke became the first female to receive a diploma from Texas A&M, although she was not allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony.[25] The following month the Board of Directors officially prohibited all women from enrolling.[23] Many Aggies again served in the military during World War II, with the college producing 20,229 combat troops. Of those, 14,123 Aggies served as officers, more than any other school and more than the combined total of the United States Naval Academy and the United States Military Academy.[26] During the war, 29 A&M graduates reached the rank of general.[17] At the start of World War II, Texas A&M was selected as one of six engineering colleges to participate in the Electronics Training Program, a 10-month activity of 12-hour study days to train Navy personnel who were urgently needed to maintain the new, highly complex electronic equipment such as radar. These colleges provided the Primary School, wherein the key topics of the first two years of a college electrical engineering curriculum were condensed into three months. The instructional effort at College Station was developed and led by Frank Bolton, EE department head and future Texas A&M president. At a given time, some 500 Navy students were on the campus, a significant fraction of the then-years enrollment. Students graduating from the Primary Schools then went to a Secondary School, one of which was at Ward Island, Texas (the future location of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi).[27] Enrollment soared after the war as many former soldiers used the G.I. Bill to further their education.[28] In 1948, the state Legislature formally recognized Texas A&M as a separate university system from the University of Texas System, codifying the de facto arrangement between the schools.[29]

University era On March 26, 1960,
Major General James Earl Rudder, class of 1932, became the 16th president of the college.[30] Rudder's tenure (1959–1970) marked a critical turning point in the school's history. Under his leadership, Texas A&M underwent a dramatic expansion in terms of its physical plant construction, but more importantly, it diversified and expanded its student body by admitting women and minorities. The Corps of Cadets became voluntary. In the face of growing student activism during the 1960s, Rudder worked diligently to ensure that school continue to fulfill its mission of providing a quality education for all Aggies. By his death in 1970, Rudder had overseen the growth of the school from 7,500 to 14,000 students from all 50 states and 75 nations.[31][32] In 1963, the 58th Legislature of Texas approved of Rudder's changes, and officially renamed the school "Texas A&M University",[31] specifying that the "A" and the "M" were purely symbolic, reflecting the school's past, and no longer stood for "Agricultural and Mechanical".[17] In the following 35 years, Texas A&M more than tripled its enrollment from 14,000 students to over 45,000.[16] Much of the legislative work allowing the expansion of Texas A&M and the admission of women was pushed by State Senator William T. "Bill" Moore, who served from 1949 to 1981. Known as "the Bull of the Brazos" and "the father of the modern Texas A&M University", Moore was a Bryan attorney and businessman originally from Wheelock in Robertson County. He also taught economics at TAMU prior to his entry into World War II.[33] Texas A&M became one of the first four universities given the designation sea-grant for its achievements in oceanography and marine resources development in 1971. In 1989, the university earned the title space-grant by NASA, to recognize its commitment to space research and participation in the Texas Space Grant Consortium.[34] George Bush Presidential Library In 1997, the school became the home of the George Bush Presidential Library. Operated by the National Archives and Records Administration, it is one of thirteen American presidential libraries. Former President George Bush remains actively involved with the university, frequently visiting the campus and participating in special events.[35][36] Texas A&M received national media attention on November 18, 1999, when Aggie Bonfire, a ninety-year-old student tradition, collapsed during construction. Twelve current and former students died and twenty-seven others were injured. The accident was later attributed to improper design and poor construction practices.[37] The victims' family members filed six lawsuits against Texas A&M officials, the student Bonfire leaders, and the university. Half of the defendants settled their portion of the case in 2005,[38] and a federal appeals court dismissed the remaining lawsuits against the university in 2007.[39] With strong support from Rice University and the University of Texas at Austin, the Association of American Universities inducted Texas A&M in May 2001, on the basis of the depth of the university's research and academic programs.[40] Texas A&M left the Big 12 Conference for the Southeastern Conference on July 1, 2012.[41] This ended Texas A&M's scheduled NCAA athletic competitions with former Southwest Conference rivals, UT Austin, Baylor, and Texas Tech, for the foreseeable future. The university undergone several large expansions in 2013. On July 12, 2013, Texas A&M Health Science Center was formally merged into the university.[42] On August 12, 2013 the university purchased the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law and renamed it the Texas A&M School of Law. Texas A&M on October 23, 2013 announced plans to build a new branch campus, Texas A&M University at Nazareth - Peace Campus, in Israel.[43]

The Texas A&M University system, in 2006, was the first to explicitly state in its policy that technology commercialization was a criterion that could be used for tenure. Passage of this policy was intended to give faculty more academic freedom and strengthen the university's industry partnerships.[78][79] Texas A&M works with both state and university agencies on various local and international research projects to forge innovations in science and technology that can have commercial applications. This work is concentrated in two primary locations–Research Valley and Research Park. Research Valley, an alliance of educational and business organizations, consists of 11,400 acres (50 km2) with 2,500,000 square feet (232,000 m2) of dedicated research space. An additional 350 acres (1 km2), with 500,000 square feet (46,000 m2) of research space, is located in Research Park.[80] Among the school's research entities are the Texas Institute for Genomic Medicine, the Texas Transportation Institute, the Cyclotron Institute, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology, and the Institute for Plant Genomics and Biotechnology.[81] Texas A&M University is a member of the SEC Academic Consortium. In 2011 with $705 million Texas A&M ranked in the top 20 universities for research expenditures; third behind only MIT and UC Berkeley for universities without medical schools.[75] In 2004, Texas A&M System faculty and research submitted 121 new inventions and established 78 new royalty-bearing licensing agreements; the innovations resulted in income of $8 million. The Texas A&M Technology Licensing Office filed for 88 patents for protection of intellectual property in 2004.[82] Spearheaded by the College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M scientists created the first cloned domestic animal, a cat named 'cc', on December 22, 2001.[83] Texas A&M was also the first academic institution to clone each of six different species: cattle, a Boer goat, pigs, a cat, a deer and a horse.[84] In 2004, Texas A&M joined a consortium of universities to build the Giant Magellan Telescope in Chile. Estimated to be the largest optical telescope ever constructed, the facility will have seven mirrors, each with a diameter of 8.4 meters (9.2 yd). This will give the telescope the equivalent of a 24.5 meters (26.8 yd) primary mirror and will be ten times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope. Construction is slated to be complete in 2016.[85] As part of a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, Texas A&M completed the first conversion of a nuclear research reactor from using highly enriched uranium fuel (70%) to utilizing low-enriched uranium (20%). The eighteen-month project ended on October 13, 2006, after the first ever refueling of the reactor, thus fulfilling a portion of U.S. President George W. Bush’s Global Nuclear Threat Reduction Initiative.[86] Tamu researchers have named the largest volcano on Earth, Tamu Massif, after the university.

Comment Stream