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The Science Building at Texas A&M University, 1966. (Credit: Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M University.)

COLLEGE STATION --

The College of Science put the wraps on one of the busiest weekends in recent history in celebration of its 50th anniversary as a stand-alone college at Texas A&M University and as an integral part of its 140-year land-grant mission to deliver transformational education, innovative discovery and global impact.

Official festivities kicked off Friday (October 28) with the College's External Advisory and Development Council Fall Meeting, held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Memorial Student Center (MSC). (See photographs via Flickr.)

At 4 p.m. in the Stephen W. Hawking Auditorium, University Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy Nicholas B. Suntzeff presented "The Observable Universe" as the inaugural installment in a new lecture series, Frontiers in Texas A&M Science, focusing on Texas A&M Science faculty and their current research. (See photographs via Flickr.)

Later that evening, the College hosted a VIP dinner as a prelude to Saturday's (October 29) Texas A&M Science: A Golden Anniversary tailgate in the MSC for all Texas A&M Science current and former students, faculty and staff, and friends and donors. In addition to the televised Texas A&M v. New Mexico State football game, the come-and-go event featured opportunities to interact with current faculty and students, explore research posters and exhibits, and enjoy hands-on demonstrations and activities. (See photographs via Flickr.)

Science has been core to the curriculum at Texas A&M since its humble beginnings in 1876 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. In fact, according to the 1895 Olio, three of the first five faculty -- then known as the first President Thomas Gathright's "coadjutors" -- were either mathematicians or chemists. Texas A&M itself was a college until the 1960s that was broken down by schools rather than colleges. Those included the School of Arts and Sciences, established in 1924 with four distinct subject areas: liberal arts; business administration; preparation for teaching; and science. At that time, chemistry and physics were housed within 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. 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. A theoretical physicist and National Academy of Sciences member, Zener was the first to describe the property behind the breakdown of electrical insulators. His pioneering work involving physics, mathematics and engineering led to the Zener diode and other transformational innovations across interdisciplinary areas now collectively recognized as materials engineering.

The Cyclotron Institute, which conducts research in the nuclear aspects of chemistry, physics, biology and engineering, was organized in 1963 and placed under the college's administration in 1971. The current College of Science became complete in 1984 with the addition of the newly renamed Department of Statistics, which was established in 1962 as the Institute of Statistics.

For additional information on college history or any of its anniversary events, contact the Texas A&M Science Dean's Office at (979) 845-7361.

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The College of Science, as described below in the 1966 Aggieland, viewable online through the Texas A&M University Yearbook Collection courtesy of Texas A&M University Libraries. The more things change. ...

The scientist at the undergraduate level must have the foundations of his discipline in depth and have been held accountable for his competence. Not only is there dignity and importance in the mastery of useful knowledge but there is value in the self-reliance which the rigorous training gives the student. A proper blending of courses from the liberal arts and from engineering is deemed important to achieve a well rounded, inspired student. Graduate education on science introduces the advanced student to research -- the activity which brings about the discovery of new facts.

The need for scientists in the nation and especially in the Southwest is evident to all men. The demand in Texas for scientists at all levels of education and in all disciplines far exceeds the present supply from this region of the nation. It is to the economic self advantage of the peoples of Texas to invest heavily in the training of young scientists, and this is the direction taken at Texas A&M University.

Instruction in the College of Science is offered in four departments: Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics. Attention is called to the curriculum in Pre-Medicine and Pre-Dentistry, which may lead to satisfying requirements to enter a College of Medicine or Dentistry. This curriculum may earn a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M University after one year in such a professional college, provided the proper credit hours are completed.


The 1966 yearbook also details the overall university's objectives "maintained by the Executive Committee [deans and directors] as set forth by the bylaws:"

Under the direction of President [James Earl] Rudder in weekly meetings, the committee decides how best to strive for "academic excellence" and keep the University headed toward its primary objective, as stated by Statute:

"The leading objective of this college shall be, without excluding other scientific and classroom studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and mechanical arts, in such a manner as the legislature may prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life."


-aTm-

Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Campus aerial photograph, 1966. (Credit: Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M University.)

  • Typical science classroom (above) and laboratory (below) scenes, 1966. (Credit: Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M University.)

  • (Credit: Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M University.)

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