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Thirdly, it is to be noted that these colleges are not class institutions. Though designed to guarantee them these opportunities they are not limited to the industrial classes. They are intended to supplement existing institutions and provide free tuition for all classes, the sons of professional men, as well as mechanics. As Senator Morrill has said in another place, “I should hope that no farmer or mechanic would be so illiberal as to wish to have the monopoly of education in any of these land-grant colleges.” They are, in brief, the colleges of all the people, of every class and profession, and they are intended to give all alike the opportunities for the broadest education. As Ezra Cornell expressed it, they are institutions “where any person can find instruction in any subject.” This purpose has been wonderfully well accomplished by the majority of them in the thirty years of their existence. By giving the higher education to rich and poor, these colleges have done more to render permanent American institutions than any other institution founded by congress.
American institutions of learning have often been ridiculed for their extravagance in “brick and mortar.” The average board of trustees of an American college has a strong disposition to buy land and lay off extensive lawns and parks, and to expend money in large buildings, and then to starve its professors and pinch them in the matter of books and equipment. This was especially true in the earlier days. Seeing how many institutions had ruined their usefulness in the extravagant external management of their affairs, and desiring to stimulate states and local communities to do their share in upbuilding these colleges, the law said, “that no portion of said fund nor the interest thereon, shall be applied, directly or indirectly, under any pretense whatever, to the purchase, erection, preservation, or repair of any building or buildings.”
This provision has been the cause of a great diversity of practice as to the manner of providing the necessary buildings and grounds for these institutions. Whether the college should be an independent institution or whether it should be connected with some existing college was the first question raised in every state. The state either had to make large appropriations for buildings and grounds or else connect the new institution with some old one. There were always old institutions wanting the new endowment, and the competition between them was frequently a warm one. The arguments in favor of connecting them with existing institutions were the saving of the cost of buildings and grounds, of museums and libraries, etc., and the difficulty of providing corps of professors in many of the subjects, which had to be taught, especially the literary ones. Other arguments were found in the scarcity of competent professors for the new institutions and in the theory, taught clearly in the act itself, that the new education was to be built upon the old, the practical and the liberal going hand in hand. The arguments in favor of independent agricultural colleges were the danger of having the new fund absorbed for the purposes of the old education, the danger of ill feeling or conflict between the technical and the classical students, and the supposed incompatibility of the study of abstract and applied science. A very wise provision of the act is the one which makes the exact character of the institution and the nature of the instruction to be given a matter for the decision of the legislatures of the states. The instruction should be adapted to the needs of the people and the character of the industries of the several states. The sciences related to the mechanic arts hold just as important a place in this law as those related to agriculture; and this term is evidently intended to be interpreted in the same liberal sense in which we have interpreted the terms “agriculture” and “branches of learning related to agriculture.” The branches of learning related to mechanic arts comprehend all the sciences not included among those related to agriculture. In some of our states agriculture is the chief industry, while manufacturing is the largest interest in others. Under this provision the state may itself determine which group of sciences shall receive the chief attention. The act has been properly interpreted thus to provide courses of industrial education to suit the needs of the different states and has rarely been abused. Believing that the time had arrived when the agricultural and mechanical colleges should have additional support, Mr. Morrill and the other friends of industrial education in the United States began in 1889 to formulate plans to secure a second appropriation from the national treasury. Mr. Morrill introduced another bill in congress providing for the further endowment of the colleges, which passed and was approved by President Harrison on August 30, 1890. This act, generally known as the second Morrill act, provides that there shall be appropriated annually to each state out of the funds arising from the sale of public lands, as in the case of the agricultural experiment stations, the sum of $15,000, for the year ending June 30, 1890, and an annual increase by the additional sum of $1,000, to such appropriation for ten years thereafter until the appropriation shall become $25,000, at which figure it shall remain fixed. The act says that this appropriation shall be applied “only to instruction in agriculture, the mechanic arts, the English language, and the various branches of mathematical, physical, natural and economic science, with special reference to their applications to the industries of life, and to the facilities for such instruction.” Provision was made at this time for separate institutions for white and colored students in such states as desired to make this arrangement. Being limited in its application this act has done even more than the original one to stimulate industrial education in the United States.
CLASSIFICATION OF AGRICULTURAL COLLEGES The early agricultural colleges and schools have in nearly all cases been merged into the colleges established under the land-grant act of 1862. The act establishing colleges of agriculture and mechanic arts was a broad one, and was framed purposely so as to permit the states to organize colleges adapted to their particular needs. As a result it is very difficult to classify them. Under this law there have been organized almost all grades of agricultural schools, from those of the high school grade to great universities with extensive departments for scientific research. According to their type of organization, they may be broadly divided into two classes: First, separate colleges of agriculture and mechanic arts; secondly, universities having departments of agriculture, and usually also of engineering. Of the earlier institutions having only courses in agriculture, only one remains, the Massachusetts agricultural college, referred to above. All of the other institutions established first as colleges of agriculture, pure and simple, have organized departments of mechanic arts in obedience to the law. Many have become great institutions of technology, with departments for many arts. In some colleges like those of Mississippi and Texas, the agricultural department preponderates largely, as it should always do in great agricultural states having very little manufacturing. The tendency in all the colleges is to multiply the courses of study in sciences applied to the arts and to cover all the technical pursuits of the states. For example, in several of the southern states, where cotton manufacturing is growing, departments have been organized for instruction in the textile industry. Unless large additional appropriations are provided by the states for this purpose, it were better to limit the courses undertaken to a few of the most important ones. The tendency at the present time, however, is to build up all of these technical department schools around the state university or the agricultural and mechanical college having these funds. Sixty-five institutions have been organized in the several states and territories under the acts of congress of July 2, 1862, and August 30, 1890. At least one institution is now in operation in each state and territory except Alaska. Of the sixty-one colleges having regular courses in agriculture, twenty-seven may be classified as separate colleges of agriculture and mechanic arts, and nineteen as universities having departments of agriculture and engineering. Separate institutions for colored students have been established in accordance with the act of 1890 in eight southern states. Instruction in them has usually been limited for the most part to courses below the college grade and to the industrial arts suited to the needs of the negro. Seven remain unclassified above. REQUIREMENTS FOR ADMISSION
The requirements for admission to the agricultural colleges vary very much in the different states in accordance with the school systems and the other opportunities for preparation. The western and southern agricultural colleges usually take the students from what is known in this country as the eighth or ninth grade of the public school course. A majority of the institutions require for admission either certificates from the preparatory schools or examinations in the more important subjects. The average standard of admission to the agricultural colleges is presented in the report of the committee on entrance requirements made to the association of colleges at the meeting in November, 1896. They recommended the following (Rept. of Bureau of education, 1896–97, p. 429): “The committee holds that it is advisable, as a beginning, to determine the requirements in a few subjects upon which it is possible for all the colleges to agree, and to recommend others, which, although too high at present for adoption by some of these institutions, may yet serve as a standard or goal toward which effort may be directed. “As a standard series of entrance requirements, to be adopted as soon as possible, we recommend the following: . Physical geography. . United States history. 3. Arithmetic, including the metric system. 4. Algebra to quadratics. 5. English grammar and composition, together with English requirements of the New England association. 6. Plane geometry.