Saturday, February 12, 2011

Time Capsule: First Agriculture College

February 12, 1855: Today the Spartans celebrate the date when Michigan Governor Kinsley S. Bingham signed a bill establishing the nation's first agriculture college, the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan in East Lansing, Michigan.

Classes began in 1857 with three buildings, five faculty members, and 63 male students. It went co-educational in 1870 when it expanded its curriculum outside of agriculture disciplines. In 1909 the campus changed its name to the Michigan Agricultural College. Its third name change, the campus would see three more changes to its name (the next, in 1925, to Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science) before settling on Michigan State University in 1964.

Jonathan Barnavelt boasts an A.B. from Michigan Agricultural College [The House with a Clock in its Walls; 34]. His major? "Agricultural Science. Animal Husbandry and all that. I was going to be a farmer till my grandpa died and left me a pile of money [35]." Assuming Jonathan still refers to the college by the name it was when he was a student, perhaps his degree was awarded between 1909 and 1925?

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