Mississippi State University
The University began as The Agricultural and Mechanical College of the State of Mississippi (or Mississippi A&M), one of the national land-grant colleges established after Congress passed the Morrill Act in 1862. It was created by the Mississippi Legislature on February 28, 1878, to fulfill the mission of offering training in "agriculture, horticulture and the mechanical arts . . . without excluding other scientific and classical studies, including military tactics."
The university received its first students in the fall of 1880 in the presidency of General Stephen D. Lee. In 1887 Congress passed the Hatch Act, which provided for the establishment of the Agricultural Experiment Station in 1888. The Cooperative Extension Service was established in 1914 by the Smith-Lever Act. The university has since had its mission expanded and redefined by the Legislature. In 1932, the Legislature renamed the university as Mississippi State College. By 1958, when the Legislature again renamed the university as Mississippi State University, the Graduate School had been organized (1936), doctoral degree programs had begun (1951), the School of Forest Resources had been established (1954), and the College of Arts and Sciences had replaced the General Science School (1956).
In July 1965, Richard E. Holmes became the first African-American student to enroll at Mississippi State University. The School of Architecture admitted its first students in 1973, the College of Veterinary Medicine admitted its first class in 1977. The MSU Vet school (commonly referred to as the CVM) is the largest veterinary school in the nation under one roof. The School of Accountancy was established in 1979. The University Honors Program was founded in 1968 in order to provide more rigorous course curricula for academically talented students, as well as to facilitate guest lecture series, forums, and distinguished external scholarships.
The program has been vastly expanded to form its own college after Bobby Shackouls, an MSU alumnus and retired CEO, donated US$10 million to found the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College in April 2006. The school recently also started a joint Ph.D program with San Jose State University allowing an increase in research for both universities, as well as enhancing the stature of both engineering colleges. In March 2009, Mississippi State announced the conclusion of the university's seven-year capital campaign, with more than $462 million received in private gifts and pledges.
Mississippi State University is a public, land-grant university whose mission is to provide access and opportunity to students from all sectors of the state's diverse population, as well as from other states and countries, and to offer excellent programs of teaching, research, and service. Enhancing its historic strengths in agriculture, natural resources, engineering, mathematics, and natural and physical sciences, Mississippi State offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs; these include architecture, the fine arts, business, education, the humanities, the social and behavioral sciences, and veterinary medicine.
The university embraces its role as a major contributor to the economic development of the state through targeted research and the transfer of ideas and technology to the public, supported by faculty and staff relationships with industry, community organizations, and government entities. Building on its land-grant tradition, Mississippi State strategically extends its resources and expertise throughout the entire state for the benefit of Mississippi's citizens, offering access for working and place-bound adult learners through its Meridian Campus, Extension, and distance learning programs. Mississippi State is committed to its tradition of instilling among its students and alumni ideals of diversity, citizenship, leadership, and service
Two MSU students, Tiffany Miller and Jon Steckler, were murdered near campus in December 1993. Willie Jerome Manning was convicted of their murders and sentenced to death, and he was also convicted and sentenced to death in an unrelated double murder that happened the following month. Two white oak trees were planted on the MSU campus on the edge of the drill field in memory of Miller and Steckler.
Mississippi State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award baccalaureate, master's, specialist, and doctoral degrees.