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A Very Brief History of
Texas A & M University

by Frederick Freshmann


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The Land-Grant College Act of 1862 set aside public lands for sale and exploitation. Texas (once it rejoined the Union) set aside over 220,000 acres of West Texas land. A lot of the acreage was around Big Lake - where Santa Rita No. 1 "came in" in 1923.

The idea of a semi-military university stemmed from the 19th Century idea of equating military discipline with academic achievement. At Texas A & M, the all-male student body was required to enroll in the military cadet program for their Freshman year. If they weren't invited to remain in the program - they then moved off-campus and attended classes in mufti as "day students". Although this would be seen as an incentive today - it wasn't then. Un-uniformed men were treated worse than visitors.

During World War I A & M had a larger percentage of it's men in the Army than any other university in the country. They were also the first to offer their campus for military training. Forty-nine Aggies died during the war.

Mascot ingestion 101
Rivalry has always been fierce between A & M and UT, but when Bevo - The Longhorn mascot was kidnapped from Austin one year - the student body of A & M came up with the oldest trick in the book for hiding evidence. They ate him.

In 1923 one third of all Texas high school graduates that went to college went to A & M. In its early years the University faced west - where the railroad discharged the new students and where they once had their own zoo.

During the Great Depression, A & M deeded some of it's land to the highway department for the construction of State Highway 6. The oil lease money from West Texas provided funds for an extensive building program on campus during the early 30s and a decision was made to build the new administration building facing East.

There is life in College Station other than the University - but most of it consists of businesses catering to the students and faculty. Bryan has taken up the responsibility of giving the area some semblance of a real town.


John Troesser 2-22-09 column

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