The Formative 50s: New Direction, Discovery, and Potential

In 1949, the Texas A&M yearbook officially changed its name to Aggieland, signaling the beginning of a decade filled with scientific discovery and new directions for the college, even as it continued to recognize its agricultural roots. In 1950, the new Biological Sciences Building was completed. Over the next two years, many new buildings and centers opened, including the Administration Building, poultry and swine classroom buildings and laboratories, dairy and beef cattle centers, and the horticulture greenhouse. The vacated System Administration Building became the new administrative offices for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor and Dean of Agriculture.

During the decade from 1949 to 1958, more than 150 students received doctoral degrees in the College of Agriculture, compared to only six during the entire history of A&M. The consolidation of various departments in the late 1940s and the increased support for graduate study were key contributing factors. In the early part of the decade, Agricultural Engineering was accredited as an academic program, the food technology curriculum was restructured into a four-year program, and the first graduate course in molecular biology was taught.

The postwar increase in enrollment at graduate and undergraduate levels also taxed many departments. More students, the addition of new courses, and expanded research and extension activities required additional faculty and staff. Six dorms were designated to accommodate the growing number of married students. For a short time in the late 1940s, wives were allowed to attend summer school and take classes during fall and spring semesters, but they were prohibited from graduating. In the decade that followed, the wives of these students, and others serving as staff members or on campus as relatives of faculty, would prove to be powerful forces for change in the battle for coeducation.

In 1950, Communist forces of North Korea attacked the Republic of South Korea, and President Harry Truman sent American military forces to defend South Korea. Thousands of Aggies went back to war. On campus, enrollment rates began to decline. In response to the decrease in student population, Texas A&M President David Morgan sent a recommendation to the Academic Council for the official admission of women to the university. The second hint of a move toward coeducation came in 1953 with a resolution to the Board of Directors. Neither Morgan’s recommendation nor the resolution passed, and it would be another decade before women were admitted as official students. At the time, coeducation was far more controversial than the elimination of compulsory military training, and the Korean Conflict served to validate military service and an all-male student body.

As Texas A&M was slow to change during the 1950s and 1960s, a quiet technological and social revolution was taking place across the United States. And in the College of Agriculture, researchers were making major contributions to agriculture worldwide.

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