Friday, July 10, 2009

Founding fathers

Sul Ross is so important to Aggie history that it's easy to forget that he was not our first President. The Class of 1951 tells what happened to Gen. Ross' predecessors
President Gathright was also taking a light view - of military aspects of the College. He rowed with his commandant. Most members of the faculty had been "top hands" in other institutions and, consequently, there were as many bosses as teachers. Gathright rowed with one of the bosses in particular, and students took sides. Meanwhile, farmers throughout the State were complaining that the school was ignoring its fundamental purpose of teaching agriculture. The Board of Directors met in Bryan and sent word to the faculty to meet with them there. L.L. McInnis, professor of Mathematics, didn't get the word on time. Hedrove by the house of Bernard Sbisa, supervisor of subsistence."Report to the Exchange Hotel in Bryan, Mac," Sbisa called out, "The 'Board' is going to fire you all." "I can't be bothered," McInnis called back. "I'm going fishing." Go fishing, he did , and the Board forgot to fire him though they dismissed Gathright and all other instructors.
Historian John A. Adams' Keepers of the Spirit says that the Governor personally intervened and called for the mass dismissal on Nov. 22, 1879. Gathright died within a year of being fired at AMC. These days, Gathright is the namesake of the Gathright award for outstanding students. Getting back to the Class of '51 version:
After the wholesale expulsion of the first A&M faculty, James [actually John - ed.] Garland James was elected second president of the College and served from 1879 to 1882. His administration was marked by a complete reorganization of curricula. The State Grange, at the time a powerful farmers' organization, led the fight against the previous curricula. The fact that still no professor of Agriculture had been added to the teaching staff, no doubt, helped provoke this censure. As a former superintendent of the Texas Military Institute at Austin, James is credited with establishing military tradition at Texas A&M. But throughout his administration, despite the actions to reorganize the existing curricula, James did not escape the ire of the farmers. In 1883, he gave up what seemed like a hopeless struggle. The Board dismissed him with most of his faculty, and despairing of finding anew president, named Professor H. H. Dinwiddie chairman of the faculty to act in lieu of their selection.
These actions of the early Boards were inspiring examples of Shared Governance, especially since Highway 6 didn't even exist yet.

No comments:

Post a Comment