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The Industrial College now granted three degrees, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Agriculture, and Bachelor of Civil Engineering. A two-year course in agriculture was being offered, but the courses leading to degrees required four years. The two-year agricultural course was hardly more than of high school grade, requiring for admission a knowledge of English grammar, arithmetic, geography, and history of the United States.
The advantage in moving the scientific course over into the Industrial College was naturally the increase in number of students and the greater solidarity in the work. The catalog of 1886-87 showed fourteen students in the Industrial College. Nine were taking engineering, two agriculture, and three were classed as special, altho two of the latter were probably agricultural students since they made their residence at the college farm. The catalog for 1887-88 showed fourteen students in the college, eleven taking engineering, one agriculture, and two being classed as specials. But the catalog for 1888-89 showed the result of adding the scientific students to the roster of the Industrial College. There were now fifty-seven students in the college. Thirty-five were listed as taking the scientific course, eight the engineering course, two the agricultural course, and twelve were classified as specials.
NEW BUILDINGS AND FINANCE The University had now outgrown its original building. For years there had been a constant agitation for new buildings to house the growing University. The first new building on the main campus of the University was the chemistry building for which the Legislature of 1885 appropriated $25,000 and which was erected in 1885 and 1886. This building now houses the College of Pharmacy. Then came Grant Memorial Hall, for which $20,000 was appropriated by the Legislature of 1887, and which was erected in 1887-88. It served, and still serves today, as a gymnasium, auditorium, and military drill hall. Then
finally, in 1888-89, came Nebraska Hall, the Industrial College's own building, for which the same Legislature had appropriated $50,000. This building housed the museum and the departments of botany, zoology, agriculture, horticulture and physics. These three buildings are still in use, altho the agricultural departments have long since been moved to the college farm. Up to the time under discussion in this chapter, there had been no buildings of consequence erected on the college farm, only small improvements being made from time to time.
The University was supported by a three-eighths mill tax, by the income from the University and Agricultural College lands, and by the fees paid by students. The latter, however, were insignificant. Now and then the Legislature would appropriate something from the general fund of the state, but appropriations of that kind were not to be had very often. For the two-year period ending November 30, 1888, the University received $110,179 from state taxes, $2,670 from interest on bonds, $6,392 from interest on University lands sold, $12,260 from rental of University lands, $14,231 from interest on Industrial lands sold, and $23,419 from rental of Industrial College lands leased. This niade a total of about $169,000. Besides a paltry sum from tuition fees, the University that biennium had received an appropriation of $15,000 from the general fund of the state toward the erection of Grant Memorial Hall.
It was a matter of much discussion at this time as to the rights of the University to its own funds. The regents maintained that the statutes of the state placed in their hands the temporary University funds as they came into the treasury. But the Legislature and the Supreme Court thought otherwise. The regents' report of 1886 tells something of this:
“Since the adoption of the present Constitution, the Legislature has assumed that these funds were a part of the funds in the state treasury that cannot be drawn out except as specifically appropriated
by itself. Since 1875, therefore, it has been customary for the Legislature at each session, after a necessarily superficial examination of the facts and circumstances, to appropriate so much of the balance on hand and the probable income of these funds for the support of the University, as it deemed expedient, and permit the surplus to accumulate in the treasury.”
The Legislature had appropriated the $25,000 for the Chemistry building from the University fund. For the Grant Memorial Hall it appropriated $5,000 from the temporary University fund and $15,000 from the general fund of the state. The $50,000 for the Industrial College building had been appropriated from the temporary University fund. There was constant difficulty in securing appropriations for the College Farm, however. In 1886, the regents bemoaned the fact that the Legislature had made no appropriation for the improvement or current expenses of the college farm, and what improvements were made had to be paid for from the sum appropriated for salaries and current expenses of the University.
How the funds accruing from the Industrial or Agricultural College lands were handled is explained by Mr. Dales in the regents' report for 1888. That year the regents had requested a statement of the items chargeable against those funds. Expenses belonging exclusively to the Industrial College were charged to it, and less than half of the general expense belonging to both colleges. Professors who devoted practically their entire time to the Industrial College had their salaries charged against its funds; in the case of some who served part time in that college, one-half or one-fourth of their salaries were charged to that college. Under this plan, the cost of the Industrial College exceeded by $5,308 the amount of money available for it under its Land Grant. However, it must be remembered that under this method of figuring the Industrial College was not sharing directly in the income from the three-eighths mill tax.
Farmers' institutes during this period again attained a measure of popularity. There is a record of the formation of the Nemaha County Farmers' Institute Association on February 7, 1882. Dean E. A. Burnett in a sketch of the development of farmers' institutes, published in 1906 in the University's first report on Nebraska farmers' institutes, says of this organization:
"A few enterprising farmers discussed the benefits to be derived, and Mr. W. F. Wright met Professor S. R. Thompson at Lincoln to talk over the movement, which resulted in the appointment of this meeting, attended by S. R. Thompson, Professor of Agriculture, and H. C. Culbertson, Professor of Horticulture. The Hon. R. W. Furnas, Secretary of the State Board of Agriculture, was present at this meeting, together with a large number of men and women who have since been prominent in Nemaha and Johnson County Institutes. This meeting was held twenty miles from the nearest railroad station. The organization formed in 1882 is still active.”
Another organization of the same kind was formed at Tecumseh, Johnson County, in October, 1882. Both of these organizations were active for many years, the latter becoming the Johnson County Farmers' Institute later. It is interesting to record that in 1905 it held a four-day institute, with a corn show and a good roads day. The tendency more and more was for the farmers themselves to take a definite part in promoting the institute movement and to form organizations to sponsor it each year. There is this record of a meeting of the Lancaster (County) Agricultural Society, held December 27, 1884:
“Prof. C. E. Bessey was present and addressed the society in relation to holding a county Farmers' Institute. Professor Bessey said that heretofore these institutes had been held under the auspices of the Agricultural College, but he thought that it would be better for the county agricultural society to hold them, or assume control of them. The professors would attend and give lectures and do whatever they could to make such institutes a success. At the close of Professor Bessey's talk Mr. Brinton moved that a committee of three be appointed to consult with Professor Bessey to fix the time of holding the first institute."
Prof. H. H. Wing, reading a paper before the Nebraska Dairymen's Association in 1887, declared that "at least four such institutes were held in 1887, entirely by the efforts of farmers in their several localities." In 1889 a three-day institute was held at Broken Bow.
In Dean Burnett's article, Doctor Bessey is credited with stating:
“Somewhat later, perhaps in 1888, when I was acting Chancellor of the University, I took the matter up with Governor Furnas, and we planned a series of Farmers' Institutes to be held in different portions of the State. He volunteered to attend as many as he could; Mr. Bassett did the same. Mr. Stephens of Crete, Mr. Youngers of Geneva, Mr. Dinsmore and others volunteered, and we held a good many Institutes beginning with the winter of 1888-89. The plan was that the locality should pay the expense of those who attended. As far as possible, we all secured transportation and simply asked the people of the locality to see that we did not have to pay hotel bills. Where the people failed to cover our expenses we bore them ourselves. This work went on with increasing success for a number of years, up to the time when Professor F. W. Taylor was appointed to look after the matter."
There appear to be rather three periods of development in the history of the farmers' institute movement in Nebraska. The first institutes seem to have been held at the suggestion of the University or Agricultural College. Later, farmers' clubs and societies began to have a part in holding an institute in their communities each year, in many cases societies being organized primarily for the purpose of conducting the institute. Then, about 1896, came à period when the college assumed definite leadership in the movement, with a superintendent of farmers' institutes. The State Legislature began making appropriations for carrying on the work and the foundation was laid for the tremendous growth of the institute movement in the early 1900's.