March 22. The board elected the first faculty, which included President Isaac Taylor Tichenor, who controlled all disbursements appropriated by the trustees. In the absence of the president, the faculty could elect one of its own to discharge presidential responsibilities.
June 22. The president's duties included implementing the plans adopted by the faculty. He also had supervisory responsibility over other officers of the college. Each professor had the authority to select his own textbooks and instructional methods, subject to the approval of the faculty. Acceptance of a chair implied a pledge to devote "undivided time and attention" to faculty duties.
November 22. The board resolved that the next scholastic year commence January 1, 1873, and close on the last Wednesday of July, 1873. Thereafter, each scholastic year would commence the first Monday of October and close the first Wednesday of July. A committee report submitted and adopted called for creating the following posts: president and professor of agriculture; professor of mathematics; professor of chemistry and physics; professor of engineering, drawing, and commandant of cadets; professor of ancient and modern languages; assistant professor; quartermaster; and surgeon.
July 30. President Tichenor made his annual report to the board. The second session of the college, now closing, had begun January 1 "under circumstances of peculiar discouragement." The school was in debt, the faculty unpaid, and financial resources uncertain. There were no desks and no money to purchase them. Cadets drifted in slowly. "Embarrassments unparalled [sic] in the history of our people oppressed the land and everything wore an aspect of cheerless and dreary." One hundred and three students matriculated during the session, with an average attendance of ninety-five. Land purchased to the southwest of the college building became the college farm. Tichenor recommended that the school either engage a full-time professor of agriculture or release him from all instructional duties other than agriculture. He went on to describe several problems related to academic instruction in agriculture and proposed a solution. "Men of letters" often had "little taste for agricultural pursuits," so a danger existed that the agricultural departments in land-grant colleges would be "strangled or starved." Furthermore, many of those involved in agricultural pursuits were suspicious of "book farming." Few Alabama farmers could afford to send their sons to college, so Tichenor proposed that the school give an agricultural scholarship to one student from every county. He viewed this as a tool for recruitment, economic development, and public relations. Tichenor acknowledged that the school's financial situation argued against this plan, but he considered it an investment in the future of the college.
July 30. At the same meeting, the board adopted regulations for "the Literary and Military Departments" of the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Alabama. These included specifications under the general principle that the president, commandant, and other professors constituted the faculty, which had responsibility for student instruction and discipline. The specifications included those adopted on July 29 regarding powers of the president and commandant. The treasurer was appointed directly by the board of trustees.
November 25. The president's report to the Alabama legislature bore this date and was integrated into the board minutes. According to this document, the college admitted two students from each county tuition free.
July 14. The board appended the annual report of the president, dated July 12, to the minutes of their July 14 meeting. Eighty-eight students enrolled during the past year, down twenty from the previous year, but this was due to the board's separation of the fifth class from the college, a decision which Tichenor had supported. The school implemented "a revised course of study" described in the catalog. Regarding finances, the president urged the board to recall that when they first met, in November of 1872, they learned that only a portion of the school's endowment had been invested. Consequently, the interest payment was less than anticipated and the school went into debt. Tichenor says that this money had been "misused" by the state. Furthermore, due to the condition of the state treasury, it was in danger of being totally lost to the college. During the past year, the school established an experiment station in the Tennessee Valley, but the college farm still needed to be put "in better condition." Little money had been secured through tuition. Tichenor had taken it upon himself to waive tuition for at least some who he was convinced could not pay. Some people in the Auburn vicinity have advocated free tuition, but Tichenor discouraged such a policy for those with the ability to pay. He added that almost half of the students in attendance already paid no tuition because they had been appointed by county superintendents of education. The faculty passed a resolution, with one dissenting vote, that women be admitted to the college. Tichenor submitted this to the board for their consideration. A government inspector--D.J.M. Hoyt of Wisconsin--had paid an unannounced visit the college. Tichenor reported that Hoyt's most important consideration had been "the adaptation of the institution to our form of society and to the wants of our people." In this respect, he gave his "unqualified approbation."
July 14. Tichenor attached to his report a letter dated February 11 from himself to W.H. Barnes, president of the board of trustees, in response to attacks upon the college. These have appeared in newspapers and circulated as rumors. In response to these reports, Tichenor provided evidence from federal government sources regarding the relative success of land-grant institutions in the United States. The average property value, number of professors, and number of students for these institutions was $438,387, 9.75, and 98, respectively. In each of these categories, Alabama reported $327,500, 7, and 108. Compared to four of the larger and wealthier states--Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts--Alabama did not come off as favorably, except in two areas: student/faculty ratio and tuition cost.
January 12. The board approved the president's recommendation regarding free tuition, although they would continue to charge each student a $10.00 incidental fee. They rejected his recommendation for a boarding department as financially inexpedient.
June 25. The board assembled for its annual meeting and considered the report of the president for the academic year 1876-77. During the past year, the college enrolled ninety-one students, as opposed to eighty-eight in 1875 and one hundred and four in 1876. The financial condition of the school has improved. Tichenor noted that the South needed diversified agriculture, but doubted that the region would ever plant less cotton. Consequently, he called for development of techniques that would reduce the labor-intensive nature of cotton cultivation. Tichenor was himself conducting experiments on that problem. He reminded the board that they had not acted upon the faculty recommendation regarding admission of women and once again called their attention to it. He also noted that the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Alabama compared favorably to other land-grant schools, given their relative financial means and potential student populations.
June 25. In his report, Tichenor also raised the point that land-grant colleges were designed to prepare people for the agricultural and mechanical arts, occupations that employed the greatest proportion of the population. Nevertheless, other state colleges and denominational institutions seemed to received greater financial support. Why should an institution, designed to provide vocational training for the masses, receive less support than one designed to train a relative few for the learned professions? Why should this "new education," so obviously relevant, be relegated to an inferior status? Because most of the educational leaders of the nation were trained under the old system. The old system was "born of the necessities of an established church and a hereditary nobility" and it did not suit "the interests of republican institutions." The new education had a "sublime mission of love" to remove a "crushing weight" from "the heads and hearts" of "children of sorrow" and to "cheer them in their humble habitations." The new education would be "neglected by those for whom it labors" and "antagonized by those whose craft may be endangered," but "its ends are pure, its methods wise & its ultimate triumph assured." The University of Alabama "has been among the noblest, although not the most famous," of institutions of the old type. Ironically, it sat in the shadow of Red Mountain, but had not produced one graduate equipped to exploit the coal and iron of that region. As a result of such tendencies, the South lacked the industrial might to win the Civil War. It needed this might to win the peace. Before the war, the region abounded with politicians who "swarmed the land" and talked "flippantly" of constitutional law. Now they needed politicians who'll lead the industrial recovery. The old system produced two types of graduates: one received "a polish which fitted them for society" and the other "consumed with the spirits of the mighty dead of ancient times." Some eventually threw off the harm done by this old educational system and became "strong and noble men." The others never recovered and remained "deeply versed in ancient lore but without a practical idea of life." Supposedly, the old education disciplined the mind, but the study of natural science could do this as well as the study of "dead languages."
June 25. In response to Tichenor's recommendations regarding filling the vacant chairs, the board committee assigned to study the issue recommended election of a professor of agriculture, making the president professor of moral philosophy, dividing the duties of English literature between the president and the professor of agriculture, and electing a chair of mechanics. The latter of the recommendations passed 5 to 4.
June 26. The board voted 5 to 3 to postpone a decision regarding the establishment of a chair of mechanics until the next meeting.
November 13. The board assembled for a called meeting in Montgomery and submitted a report for the years 1878-79 and 1879-80 to the legislature. The report urged the value of an experimental farm, not to teach students manual labor, but to instill in their minds the lessons learned in textbooks and lectures. Most other states had larger and more valuable experimental farms than Alabama. Such a farm could be established in connection with Alabama's land-grant college through "a trifling tax" on commercial fertilizers sold in the state. As part of this arrangement, Auburn would undertake the inspection of commercial fertilizers sold in the state. The report concluded by noting that the legislature had canceled a $40,000 owed the state by the University of Alabama. Could they not do something for the A&M College, which sought to provide an education for "the larger mass of young men" in the state?
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