A History of the College

When Texas A&M was founded in 1876, Louis Pasteur was proving the existence of microorganisms and dispelling the concept of spontaneous generation. Gregor Mendel was perfecting the basic concepts of genetics through his experimentation with peas. Fewer than 100 microscopes existed in the entire United States. Maps of Texas showed West Texas as Indian Territory.

The "faculty" of Texas A&M College consisted of one mathematician and one person designated to teach agricultural chemistry and scientific agriculture. Science as a discipline and education in the classical form at the new land-grant institution were disapproved of by the governor and state legislators, whose concept of the land-grant college was limited to teaching practical applications and job skills. Science and mathematics existed merely to supply instruction to applied fields. This was a new concept to higher education; so new that when the president of the college, Thomas Gathright, and the faculty were unable to meet these objectives, they were relieved of their duties - after only three years of service.

Texas A&M itself was a college until the 1960s, and as such, it had "schools" rather than colleges. In 1924, its School of Arts and Sciences was established with four distinct subject areas: liberal arts; business administration; preparation for teaching; and science. Chemistry and physics were actually within departments in the School of Engineering.

After World War II, encouraged by America's entrance into the atomic age and its rising faith in science, more students sought training in the pure and natural sciences. This effort was aided by the success of the Texas A&M Research Foundation, established by President Gibb Gilchrist in 1944. Between 1948 and 1958, the proportion of students enrolled in the School of Arts and Sciences rose rapidly in comparison to enrollment in agriculture and engineering. By 1957, it comprised 25 percent of the student body.

Following Texas A&M's elevation to university status in 1963, the College of Science with departments in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics emerged in 1966 under the leadership of its first dean, Clarence Zener. The Cyclotron Institute, which conducts research in the nuclear aspects of chemistry, physics, biology and engineering, was organized in 1963 and placed under the administration of the College in 1971. Finally, the current College of Science became complete in 1984 when the Institute of Statistics, established in 1962, was renamed the Department of Statistics.

Past Deans

  Name Term Department
Portrait of Meigan Aronson Aronson, Meigan 10/01/2015 - Physics and Astronomy
Portrait of H. Joseph Newton Newton, H. Joseph 07/01/2002 - 09/30/2015 Statistics
Portrait of Richard Ewing Ewing, Richard 07/01/1992 - 08/15/2000 Mathematics
Portrait of John Fackler Fackler, John 01/01/1983 - 12/31/1991 Chemistry
Portrait of John Beckham Beckham, John 01/01/1981 - 12/31/1982 Chemistry
Portrait of Thomas Sugihara Sugihara, Thomas 02/01/1978 - 08/31/1981 Chemistry
Portrait of John Beckham Beckham, John 01/01/1977 - 01/31/1978 Chemistry
Portrait of John Prescott Prescott, John 09/01/1969 - 09/01/1977 Biochemistry
Portrait of Horace Byers Byers, Horace 07/01/1968 - 12/31/1969 Meterology
Portrait of Clarence Zener Zener, Clarence 01/01/1966 - 06/30/1968 Physics and Astronomy
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