Texas A&M University
The U.S. Congress laid the groundwork for the establishment of Texas A&M in 1862 with the adoption of the Morrill Act. The act auctioned land grants of public lands to establish endowments for colleges where the "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 mechanical arts... to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life".
In 1871, the Texas Legislature used these funds to establish the state's first public institution of higher education, the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, then known as Texas A.M.C. Brazos County donated 2,416 acres (10 km2) near Bryan, Texas, for the school's campus. Enrollment began on October 2, 1876. Six students enrolled on the first day, and classes officially began on October 4, 1876, with 6 faculty members. During the first semester, enrollment increased to 48 students, and by the end of the spring 1877 semester, 106 students had enrolled. Admission was limited to white males, and all students were required to participate in the Corps of Cadets and receive military training. Although traditional Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets "campusologies" indicate 40 students began classes on October 4, 1876, the exact number of students enrolled on that day is unknown. Enrollment climbed to 258 students before declining to 108 students in 1883, the year the University of Texas opened in Austin, Texas. Though originally envisioned and annotated in the Texas Constitution as a branch of the University of Texas, Texas A.M.C. had a separate Board of Directors from the University of Texas from the first day of classes and was never enveloped into the University of Texas System. A large domed building overlooks a full-length statue of balding white male with a mustache and long goatee and wearing a knee-length coat.
The pedestal is engraved "Lawrence Sullivan Ross". Statue of Lawrence Sullivan "Sul" Ross located in front of the Academic Building In the late 1880s, many Texas residents saw no need for two colleges in Texas and clamored for an end of Texas A.M.C. In 1891, Texas A&M was saved from potential closure by its new president Lawrence Sullivan Ross, former governor of Texas, and well-respected Confederate Brigadier General. Ross made many improvements to the school and enrollment doubled to 467 cadets as parents sent their sons to Texas A&M "to learn to be like Ross".
During his tenure, many enduring Aggie traditions were born, including the creation of the first Aggie Ring. After his death in 1898, a statue was erected in front of what is now Academic Plaza to honor Ross and his achievements in the history of the school. Under pressure from the legislature, in 1911 the school began allowing women to attend classes during the summer semester. At the same time, A&M began expanding its academic pursuits with the establishment of the School of Veterinary Medicine in 1915.
Texas A&M University 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.
With over 280,000 alumni, A&M has one of the largest and most active alumni groups in America. Many Aggies have attained local, national, and international prominence. Jorge Quiroga and Martin Torrijos have served as heads of state for Bolivia and Panama, respectively, and Rick Perry is the current Governor of Texas and 2012 US Presidential candidate. Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations,is a past president of the university.
Congressmen Joe Barton, Bill Flores, Jeb Hensarling, and Louie Gohmert, and former Austin, Texas, mayor Will Wynn are all graduates. Aggies made their mark on the gridiron with former All Pro Green Bay Packer Lee Roy Caffey, 1 Pro-Bowl, 4 World Championships, including 3 Super Bowls, title-winning coach Gene Stallings, Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen, Houston Oilers defensive tackle Ray Childress, Heisman Trophy winners John David Crow and Johnny Manziel, Heisman runner-up, legislator, and actor John Kimbrough, punt returner Dante Hall, offensive tackle Richmond Webb, Detroit Lions defensive end and punter Yale Lary, former Dallas Cowboys assistant coach and former player Dat Nguyen, punter Shane Lechler, Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller, and defensive end Ty Warren. Paul "Bear" Bryant coached at A&M where "survivors" of his grueling football practice camp at Junction.
Texas A&M's College Station campus, one of the largest in America, spans 5,200 acres (21 km2) plus 350 acres (1 km2) for Research Park. The university is part of the Bryan-College Station metropolitan area located within Brazos County in the Brazos Valley (Southeast Central Texas) region, an area often referred to as "Aggieland".