History and Development
Texas A&M University (Texas A&M) is dedicated to the discovery, development, communication and application of knowledge in a wide range of academic and professional fields. Its mission of providing the highest quality undergraduate and graduate programs is inseparable from its mission of developing new understandings through research and creativity. It prepares students to assume roles in leadership, responsibility and service to society. Texas A&M assumes as its historic trust the maintenance of freedom of inquiry and an intellectual environment nurturing the human mind and spirit. It welcomes and seeks to serve persons of all racial, ethnic and geographic groups, women and men alike, as it addresses the needs of an increasingly diverse population and a global economy. In the twenty-first century, Texas A&M University seeks to assume a place of preeminence among public universities while respecting its history and traditions.
History and Development
Texas A&M University, the state’s first public institution of higher education, opened for classes in 1876. It is now one of a select few institutions in the nation to hold land grant, sea grant and space grant designations. It is also one of the few universities to host a presidential library. The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum opened in 1997 on a 90-acre tract of land on the west side of campus. The University owes its origin to the Morrill Act approved by the Congress on July 2, 1862. This act provided for donation of public land to the states. The land was to be sold at auction, and the proceeds were set aside in a perpetual fund. The act directed that interest from this fund be used to support a college whose “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 mechanic arts. . . in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.”
By resolution of the Legislature of the State of Texas in November 1866, Texas agreed to provide for a college under the terms of the Morrill Act, but no such institution was organized until the establishment of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas by act of the Twelfth Texas Legislature on April 17, 1871. The same act appropriated $75,000 for the erection of buildings and bound the state to defray all expenses of the college exceeding the annual interest from the endowment. Proceeds from the sale of the 180,000 acres of land scrip received under the Land Grant College Act were invested in $174,000 of gold frontier defense bonds to Texas, forming a perpetual endowment for the institution. A commission created to locate the institution accepted the offer of 2,416 acres of land from the citizens of Brazos County in 1871, and instruction began in 1876.
As the State of Texas grew, so did its land grant institution. Texas A&M now has a physical plant valued at more than $1 billion. The campus in College Station includes 5,200 acres and is one of the largest campuses of any major institution of higher education in the nation. The University also operates branch campuses at Galveston and Doha, Qatar, with the latter operating at no expense to the State of Texas. Additionally, the University operates the Soltis Center for Research and Education in San Isidro de Peñas Blancas, Costa Rica. The University also supports global activities for students at the Santa Chiara Study Center in Castiglion Fiorentino, Arezzo, Italy, and maintains an office in Mexico City.
In keeping with the diversified and expanded character of the institution, the 58th Legislature of Texas, on August 23, 1963, changed the name of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas to Texas A&M University.
On September 17, 1971, the designation “sea grant college” was assigned to Texas A&M University in recognition of its achievements in oceanographic and marine resources development. Texas A&M was one of the first four institutions nationwide to achieve this distinction. Patterned after the century-old land grant idea, sea grant colleges are federal-state partnerships for furthering marine work through practical research, education and advisory services. The designation clearly establishes the University’s leadership relative to marine affairs of the state.
Texas A&M added a third special designation to its credentials on August 31, 1989, when it was named a “space grant college.” This new designation, bestowed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, came to the University based on its continuing commitment to space research and its participation in the Texas Space Grant Consortium, a group of 35 institutions that includes universities, industrial organizations, non-profit organizations and government agencies within Texas under the leadership of Texas A&M University, The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston.
In addition to its traditional strengths in agriculture and engineering, Texas A&M has established itself as a leader in such newer technological areas as the space, nuclear, computer, biotechnological, oceanographic and marine resources fields. It also has placed added emphasis on the arts and sciences and business and continues to enhance its prominent role in these fields.
A mandatory military component was a part of the Land Grant designation until the 1950s, and the Corps of Cadets has played an important part in the history and development of Texas A&M. Even though membership in the Corps of Cadets became voluntary in 1965, Texas A&M historically has produced more officers than any other institution in the nation with the exception of the service academies. The University is one of only three institutions with a full-time corps of cadets including ROTC programs leading to commissions in all branches of service — Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Texas A&M offers a variety of programs in both undergraduate and graduate studies through its academic colleges and schools supported by the Texas A&M University Libraries — Agriculture and Life Sciences, Architecture, The Bush School of Government and Public Service, Mays Business School, Education and Human Development, College of Engineering, Geosciences, Liberal Arts, Science, and Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Texas A&M University at Galveston is the marine and maritime branch campus of Texas A&M University, and Texas A&M University at Qatar offers degrees in engineering. In addition, Texas A&M’s extensive research efforts in all fields, in conjunction with agricultural and engineering experiment stations, resulted in annual expenditures of approximately $630 million in 2009, which consistently rank in the top tier of research institutions by the National Science Foundation.
Classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a Research University (very high research activity), Texas A&M embraces its mission of the advancement of knowledge and human achievement in all its dimensions. The research mission is a key to advancing economic development in both public and private sectors. Integration of research with teaching prepares students to compete in a knowledge-based society and to continue developing their own creativity, learning, and skills beyond graduation.
In 2001, Texas A&M University was admitted to the Association of American Universities (AAU), the prestigious organization founded in 1900 that restricts its ranks to the nation’s premier public and private institutions of higher learning. In 2004, the Kappa of Texas Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was installed at Texas A&M University.