Page images

were fifty-six persons with professorial rank connected with the University; eight years later there were 390. During his administration there was a great development of the college farm. Samuel Avery, who for a number of years had been associated with the department of chemistry, as well as the experiment station, was acting chancellor of the University in 1908-09, and became chancellor on May 20, 1909. During his administration the College of Agriculture and the college farm have attained their present proportions, but that will be left for our succeeding chapter.



Most people, even today, do not understand that there are both a School of Agriculture and a College of Agriculture. The School of Agriculture is a high school, which emphasizes agricultural and home economics instruction in connection with a secondary school course. The College of Agriculture is a separate college within the University. It presupposes that those entering upon its course of study shall have had a high school education.

The School of Agriculture was undoubtedly the most important development from 1890 to 1908. Our readers no doubt recall the difficulty in securing any large number of students for the college courses in agriculture. Possibly one reason for this difficulty lay in the fact that those to whom a college course in agriculture would make a practical appeal generally did not have a high school education to begin with.

The report of the Board of Regents, for the two years ending in 1896, tells something of the reasons for the establishment of the school:

“The history of the University from the beginning shows similar attempts to satisfy the demands of the people of the state for practical Schools of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts. Various socalled 'short courses in agriculture' were given. The regents believe that at last they have found why the earlier attempts did not


succeed, and that they have a plan that will succeed. The old schemes failed because either they had too high a standard, or practically no educational standard whatever. The College of Agriculture required extensive preparation and four years of continuous study. Its graduates were few, and were weaned from the farm. The high schools of the state prepared for every college but the technical college: hence rarely did anyone enter the latter. short courses were on the other hand of such low educational standard that youths were not tempted to resort to them. They were excellent as somewhat extended Farmers' Institutes and fulfilled their mission for adult farmers. A missing link in the state system of education is the technological high school, or high school of applied science. The apparatus and instruction necessary in such a school make it too expensive at the present time for the high schools of the state to add the technological courses in agriculture and the mechanic arts. The regents propose to supply this missing link until the state attains to its full development, when it would be possible that these technical schools would be supplanted by the development of the high schools of the state with reference to this work, just as the high schools of the state have at length made the Preparatory Department or the state high school at the University unnecessary. The regents have raised the standard of the short courses in agriculture to that of genuine secondary schools."

As our readers recall, there had been heretofore abbreviated agricultural courses which required for completion one or two years of school. In the early nineties there was also a course for farmers given for a short time each winter. The rapid development of the beet sugar industry in Nebraska resulted in the establishment of a Sugar School, in the nineties. This will be discussed later. One also runs across mention of a dairy school in the early nineties, but its exact status is not apparent, the regents' report quoted above stating "in the School of Agriculture will be borne the Dairy School as a line of specialization of great value to the state of Nebraska." Later on a special dairy course appears to have been given in the winter months.

The establishment of the new type of agricultural school, which was a unit by itself rather than entirely a side line, marked a milestone in the progress of the Uni

versity. How rapidly it was to grow is to be deduced from the fact that in 1908, E. A. Burnett, associate dean of the Industrial College in charge of agriculture, was to remark that “about 20 per cent of all the students in the University are now registered in the School of Agriculture." The success of this school was to make possible the rapid development of the agricultural campus, with the erection of many of the splendid buildings of today.

"In March, 1894, the regents announced that they proposed to open in September, 1895, a School of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts," reads their report for the two years ending with 1896. The first School of Agriculture did not cpen, however, until December, 1895. Fifteen students appeared for the course of instruction. It is interesting to note, perhaps, that it was fifteen students that entered upon the agricultural course of study in the University twenty-one years before. The School of Agriculture the first year held its sessions on the University campus downtown, because, as our readers know, the college farm' as yet had small facilities for regular classroom work.

The members of the faculty were drawn from the Industrial College and the Experiment Station. Those who were said to have actually given instruction the first year included Prof. T. L. Lyon, Professor Bessey, Professor Bruner, Doctor Peters, Professor Swezey (meteorology) and Professor Card. On April 16, 1896, the regents appointed Professor Lyon director of the school and made plans for its further development. On the same day the regents organized the School of Mechanic Arts.

We are not concerned to such a great extent with the latter, except possibly to note that the following fall it opened with an enrollment of sixteen. Altho it existed for a number of years, the School of Mechanic Arts never attained the popularity of the School of Agriculture. It aimed to do for the mechanically inclined young man what the School cf Agriculture did for the farmer boy. In the School of Agriculture emphasis for the most part was placed on practical agricultural subjects.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

In 1896 a smail dairy building was erected on the farm campus, the first building for purely instructional purposes. Today, veneered with brick, this represents about one-half of the building occupied by the departments of rural economics and poultry husbandry. A dairy laboratory was cn the lower floor of the building and a lecture room on the second floor. The little old stone house now housed a chemical laboratory and a lecture room. Two rooms of the house were occupied by Professor Lyon's office furniture and library. The school was now ready to begin operations on the farm campus. There were two new instructors the second year, A. E. Davisson, who was later to become principal of the school, and A. L. Haecker, who was later to become professor of dairy husbandry. Mr. Davisson gave instruction in English, history, and mathematics, while Mr. Haecker was assistant in dairying. Thirty-three students attended the school the second year.

The following summer an addition to the dairy building was erected and the entire structure veneered with brick. The faculty began to feel that agricultural education and the old college farm were coming into their own. Professor Davisson in his historical sketch of the School of Agriculture, published in Agriculture in January, 1909, tells something of the optimism prevailing at the beginning of the third year:

“The writer very well recalls with what feelings of exultation the faculty prepared to open school in December. It was felt by Professor Lyon, Director of the School, that great things in agricultural education were about to happen. Some of the members of the faculty thought there would be more than one hundred students; others were more conservative, while the opinion was freely expressed by some of the professors on the campus—who were then opposed to agricultural education but who are now wholly in sympathy with the idea—that no greater number of students could ever be expected. As in the previous year, the school opened in December and fifty-one students registered.”

Only three women registered in the School of Agriculture during the first three years. This was owing to the

fact that there was "no provision for giving instruction in the various branches of domestic economy." However, this situation was to be shortly relieved by the establishment of a School of Domestic Science and several years later the School of Domestic Science, as far as the secondary school courses were concerned, was to be absorbed by the School of Agriculture, thus offering attractive courses of study to both men and women. But, because the work in home economics was related to both school and college, a brief sketch of its development is reserved for a later section. The average age of the students attending the School of Agriculture was twenty-one, indicating that most of the students had decided to secure further education several years after having been graduated from the district schools.

At the close of school in March, 1898, Chancellor MacLean entertained the students at his home. He proposed that an association of agricultural students be formed for the purpose of continuing the work begun in the school. Chancellor MacLean and Dean Bessey were invited by the students to come to the farm and organize such an association. E. Von Forell of the Board of Regents had taken a special interest in the school and hearing of the organization of the students became convinced of the desirability of extending the course of study. The regents that April established a three years' course of study in the School of Agriculture, and also provided that students completing the course should be admitted to the technical agricultural group of the University.

The organization of this Agricultural Students' Association in connection with the School of Agriculture was an interesting development. It aimed to tie up the boys with the school in more or less permanent fashion after they had left the institution and gone back to their homes. The object of the association, as stated in the constitution, was “the continuance of the habits of study and investigation formed while at the School and College of Agriculture; and

« PreviousContinue »