By Paula Davenport and Nancy Nilles 2017-05-17 03:33:19
A look through the ages at what makes us who we are today Photographs and memorabilia courtesy of MSU Museum, University Archives & Historical Collections, and MSU photographers In many ways MSU is like its landmark Rock: strong, solid but ever-changing, vibrant, and laden with ideas. By turns silly or solemn, political or personal, the boulder-turned-billboard endures, bearing unflinching witness to time’s passage. Like us, it is made of many layers, but green to the core. In the pages that follow, we invite you to examine, or perhaps rediscover, some of the many layers that human hands and minds have created in more than 160 years of MSU history, shown here through art, photography, artifacts, and tales. Piece by piece, each adds a layer of strength and complexity to the foundation upon which we now stand—solid yet fluid, alive, and bright with hope. FOUNDING In 1855, the state agreed to found the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan 10 miles east of Lansing. Stipulations called for the purchase of between 500 and 1,000 acres of land for no more than $15 an acre, as specified in this Senate Decree. It would be the first college dedicated to the scientific study of agriculture. In 1856, College Hall, the first classroom building, rose from drained swampland where Beaumont Tower now stands. A men’s-only dormitory, The Saints’ Rest, opened and a new brick barn dotted a teaching farm. The college became the nation’s pioneer land-grant institution and the model for all others through adoption of the Morrill Act in 1862. Five faculty members welcomed 63 male students in May 1857. The university, stands true to its legislated purpose: “…to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life.” ~The Morrill Act, 1862 Horticulture Class, 1917 It took some convincing before family farmers embraced the idea that scientific principles could improve everything from cultivation to crop yields. The college offered not only degrees but also shorter courses in such areas as horticulture. Adding mechanical engineering classes (1885), an agricultural experiment station (1888), and offerings through the Extension Service (1914), the college assisted in the modernization of agriculture in Michigan and beyond. Modern research facilities In one of MSU’s contemporary laboratories, a MasterCard Foundation Scholar, Timothy Nakedde, of Uganda works alongside University Distinguished Professor James D. Kelly. Nakedde’s research focuses on plant breeding and genetics. Gothic Monitor Barn By building models like this one, students familiarized themselves with the variety of barns suited to specific purposes. Low cost, ease of livestock feeding, and improved chances of rescuing animals from barn fires are among this style’s selling points. GROWING Education for All As agricultural sciences evolved, so did the university and the diversity of its students. Ten women entered the college in 1870. The first international students enrolled in 1873. In 1899, William O. Thompson, the first African-American student, joined the student body. He went on to teach at Tuskegee University. A few years later, Myrtle Craig became the first African-American woman enrolled here. She received her diploma from U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, who was commencement speaker at the college in 1907. Name Changes The university has undergone six name changes since its founding. Lt. Gov. Philip Hart used the fountain pen shown here on April 21, 1955, to officially shift Michigan State College to Michigan State University. 1855 Agricultural College of the State of Michigan 1861 State Agricultural College 1909 Michigan Agricultural College (M.A.C.) 1925 Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science (MSC) 1955 Michigan State University of Agriculture and Applied Science (MSU) 1964 Michigan State University (MSU) A CHRONOLOGY OF SELECTED TOUCHSTONES 1899 The Railroad spur from Trowbridge Junction first brings 3,000 visitors to campus. The excursion trip became an annual event until 1911 and helped the college’s image. 1914 U.S. Congress creates the Cooperative Extension System. MSU names its first 11 agricultural agents to take best farming practices to outlying counties around the state. They once used these potato models in demonstrations. Our MSU Extension operates today in every county of our state. 1922 WKAR broadcasts the Founders’ Day speech of David Friday, college president. Soon, even those in the Upper Peninsula could tune in for crop reports, weather forecasts, music, and more. 1926 Sportswriter coins the term Spartans to describe the college baseball team. It sticks. Kiss the Aggies goodbye. 1928 Beaumont Tower adds more new bells. Now, musicians play the carillon bells at a free summer concert series every year. 1932 The State Board of Agriculture honors its member Clark L. Brody, for whom Brody Complex is named, with a gavel carved from one of Old College Hall’s salvaged rafters. Symbols of agricultural bounty and engineering achievements are stamped on its seal. The occasion? The university’s 75th Anniversary. 1939 Registrar Robert S. Linton introduces perforated IBM enrollment cards. 1944 The International Center opens in a refurbished faculty house west of the Union Building. 1945 The university unveils a ceramic Spartan statue sculpted by its art professor, Leonard Jungwirth. 1955 Beaumont Tower and College Hall are memorialized on a 100th anniversary medallion of Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science (MSC), a moniker bestowed in 1925. DISCOVERING Got Milk? G. Malcolm Trout was credited with helping make homogenized milk feasible in the early 1930s by linking the processes of pasteurization and homogenization in its production. He also worked closely with the dairy industry to develop new processes to make cheeses, yogurt and other products. ~The New York Times MISTIC Though most MSU students are bringing laptops and tablets to their lectures, it was only 60 years ago that there was only one computer on campus. MISTIC, the Michigan State Integral Computer, was constructed in 1956 and housed in the still-standing Computer Center. The model filled an entire room on the fifth floor and weighed nearly one ton. Departments from all over campus used MISTIC, which held 5KB of memory. MSU discoveries span its existence and include everything from hybrid corn to never-before-produced isotopes, from improvements to structural materials to the discovery of cancer-fighting medications, and from better blueberries to methods that combat food-borne illnesses. In 2016, external research funding totaled $589 million. Federal agencies support our research in such areas as energy, agriculture, medicine, defense, international development, and justice. “There are three major responsibilities of a land-grant university… be a catalyst for upward mobility for the American dream… respond to society’s needs and shape a forward-leaning intellectual agenda…and marshal our intellect and will (to) ensure our value to society continues to appreciate…” ~MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon Sugar Beets Robert C. Kedzie was considered the father of the sugar beet industry. A chemistry professor for nearly 40 years, he had previously earned his medical degree and worked as a Civil War surgeon. He also served in the State House of Representatives and presided over the American Public Health Association. He presented this bottle of sugar cooked in 1899 from Bay City beets to Michigan Governor Hazen S. Pingree, whose term ran from 1897 to 1900. His son Frank grew up on Laboratory Row and earned his agriculture degree. He presided over the university from 1915 to 1921. He too helped grow Michigan’s sugar beet industry. Ransom E. Olds Hall of Engineering (1916), the Union Building (1924), and Beaumont Tower (1929) were constructed during Frank Kedzie’s tenure. Physics Our founders never could have imagined the university’s current prowess in the field of nuclear science. It’s exploded on the heels of several earlier faculty researchers. In 1939, alumnus Lyman J. Briggs was tapped by the federal government to study atomic power. In 1958, Professor Henry Blosser entered the world of nuclear physics research. The first cyclotron on campus was constructed in 1963. A second was established in 1981. All of this paved the way for MSU to become a vanguard in the field of particle acceleration and research. And its also home of the top-ranked U.S. nuclear physics graduate program. Together, these events are being manifested by construction of the first-ever Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), to be completed in 2021. FRIB will create the highest intensity beams of rare isotopes available anywhere. MSU scientists and students as well as peers worldwide are expected to make world-changing discoveries in such fields as astrophysics, medicine, industry, and homeland security. From construction through operation, FRIB is predicted to add $4.4 billion to the state’s economy. LEARNING Hitting the Books Initially, the college’s list of classes fit on a single sheet of paper. Agriculture and mechanical engineering courses were open to men. The women’s courses included sewing, horticulture, and nutrition education. My how times have changed. Today’s student body is close to half female and half male. And collegians from 133 nations annually study here with their American peers. The university boasts 17 degree-granting colleges. Together, they offer more than 200 programs of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. Twenty-five undergraduate and graduate programs are ranked in the top 20 nationally by U.S. News & World Report. Of those, eight are at #1. Enrollment this year totals 50,344. The East Lansing campus spans 5,200 acres. In all, 545 buildings, of which 103 are for academic and instructional purposes, fill in the core campus. “Going to the library to study was memorable because students had to wear a trench coat covering Bermuda shorts to enter the building.” ~Audrey E. Miller, Class of 1960 Tomorrow’s Change Agents The most popular majors at Michigan State University include: business, management, marketing, and related support services; social sciences; biological and biomedical sciences; and engineering. Nearly 24 percent of classes have fewer than 20 students. On average, 92 percent of freshmen return for their sophomore year. Undergraduate enrollment this year is 39,090. LIVING For Women It was up by 6:15 a.m. on weekdays and quiet by 10 p.m. The parlor or reception room were the only areas in which male guests were allowed. Domiciles The male-only Saints’ Rest—the first on-campus boarding hall—opened in 1857. Four students bunked in each of the 28 rooms, heated by small wood stoves. A kitchen, laundry, and community wash room occupied the basement. A dining room and parlor were situated on the second floor. It would be 1896 before women lived on campus in Abbot Hall. With the end of World War II, returning soldiers and their families flocked to MSU thanks to the GI Bill. President John Hannah arranged for 104 Quonset huts to be set on 30 acres that once housed a poultry plant. Some of the huts housed up to 14 men. Several larger huts did duty as cafeterias. In our barracks apartment “…there was a hole big enough for a chair leg to go through…another time our Christmas tree froze inside our living room.” Elizabeth (Hall) Tuttle, Class of 1951 Comforts of Home Twenty-seven residence halls clustered in five separate neighborhoods are situated across campus. This fall, 1855 Place, newly constructed student and family apartments and townhouses, will join the MSU-operated housing options. Nine residential dining halls feature contemporary furnishings. Menus include award-winning dishes like vegetarian options, comfort food, burgers, salads, desserts, international cuisine, pizza, sandwiches, and breakfast items. Oh, don’t forget the sushi. SOCIALIZING Leisure The Water Carnival, May Morning Sings, J-Hop dances, Cokes and coffee in the Union Grill, and concerts in the Auditorium. Fast forward to cosmic bowling, country and rap music concerts, club sports, and more. MSU today boasts 700 student organizations, a sailing center, craft nights, courts for basketball and volleyball, beautiful bike trails across campus, and much more. MSU understands that for students to grow into well-rounded individuals they must learn how to positively interact with other people and within groups. The hard part for students now is whittling down their choices. “The MSU dances were amazing. We danced to Tommy Dorsey, Ray Anthony, and other great bandleaders to songs like Ebb Tide, At Last, September Song, and so many others.” ~ Jane Louise Burnham Haynes, Class of 1954 Friends for Life Sorority sisters enjoy one another’s company. The fashions and a 45 RPM record suggest this photo was taken in the 1950s. The Greek community has been part of campus life since 1872. There are a total of 63 fraternities and sororities governed by four councils. Class Rivalry The 1912 sophomore men vowed to extract blood from freshmen in the Red Cedar during a long-held fall ritual—a fierce tug of war waged from the river’s banks. BECOMING “The sensations that abound across campus are reminders of the people, places, events, and attitudes that contributed to the extraordinary individuals we have become.” ~W. Scott Westerman III Executive Director MSU Alumni Association Diploma Andrew Brace Goodwin received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture at the then-State Agricultural College on Aug. 14, 1888. Professor W.J. Beal—the fi rst botanist to hybridize corn and whose namesake campus gardens still thrive today—and members of the State Board of Agriculture are among the signatories. Soon-to-be Alumni Green is more than just a school color. It’s symbolic in a Spartan’s life. Did you know that graduates’ diplomas are now made from recycled paper, their caps from a recycled 20-ounce plastic bottle and that a dozen such bottles go into creating every robe? Spartans will put their regalia away after their commencement ceremonies. Nevertheless, regardless of where life takes them after graduation, Spartans share a life-long bond. And they join a network that is more than 550,000 strong. Their mantra? Spartans Will. The Kedzie Cane President Frank Kedzie donated his father’s cane, carved from Mexican coffee wood, to the fledgling M.A.C. Association in 1929. For generations, it was awarded ceremoniously to the oldest living male and female alumni who attended their 50th class reunion, now called Alumni University. Awards have taken the place of the cane. Man’s Class Ring 2017 Spartan class rings are placed inside Beaumont Tower and guarded overnight. The following afternoon, Sparty and members of the Spartan Marching Band Drumline lead the Ring March from the Spartan Statue, down beautiful West Circle Drive to Beaumont Tower. MSU Press Extra! Extra! Read More About It The MSU Press has published a trilogy of university history books. As a set, they cover events and backstories and little seen historic photographs, from 1855 to 2005. For details on the books, which may also be purchased individually, call (517) 355-9543.
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