From its first chapter to the ever-changing last work, the story of Mississippi State College is at epic of constantly expanding service and usefulness.
The fifty-eight years those entrusted with its destiny have brought about a partial fulfillment of the ideals of Darden and Lee and George. Today the blank pages reserved for the unfolding years are filling rapidly with figures and characters that are transcendently beautiful. Captain Put Darden went about pleading with fine oratory that Mississippi take advantage of the Morrill Land Grant Act by establishing an institution “to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life.”
Today the echo of his voice reaches the descendants of those who listened then, and the College through one or more of three strong arms reach every community of the state with its far-reaching influence. Their forebears draw today more than 2,000 young men to the landmark of technical training set up.
It is a far cry from an enrollment of 2,178 in 1938 to a registration of 87 college students in 1880. It is equally as far to the days when the principal work of the college was concentrated in three buildings; when the president’s office, the dining hall and chapel were all in one structure; when the Professor of Science taught all of the ‘ologys’ and the Professor of Agriculture in addition to teaching every branch of his subject was superintendent of the college farm. The College Physician was also the College Veterinarian.
Today the college grounds have been enlarged to more than 4,000 acres, and the buildings and equipment together with the grounds, are valued at about $7,000,000. About 300 employees handle this equipment.
Starting in 1885 the college began an expansion program that has not abated – Creation of an Experiment Station. These plants, located in eleven counties, have been leased by the college to a legally organized cooperative association of producers within the area, at one dollar per year. The charges for meat curing run from one to three cents a pound. The rates for bee storage range from one-half cent per pound per month at Brandon to one and one-half cent per pound for a month in Houston. In addition, pork, eggs, potatoes, apples and miscellaneous products have been stored in large quantities during the first year of operation.
Engineering has developed into a four-department school that offers a choice of specialization after the freshman year in Aeronautical, electrical, mechanical and civil engineering.
Need for a stronger course offering of the School of Science led to the establishment of the School of Science in 1911. This school, like agriculture and engineering has widened to include general science, pre-med, chemical engineering and physical Science.
Realizing that business in Mississippi is dependent to a great extent upon agriculture, the college in 1914 established a School of Business that now offers degrees in Commercial Aviation, Merchandising, Banking and Accounting and General Business.
The newest school, Education was established in 1935. It provides degree work in Agricultural Education, Commercial and Distributive Education, English and Social Studies, Industrial Education, Mathematics and Science and Physical Education.
A Graduate School, Established in 1936, grants the degree of Master of Science in each of the undergraduate schools.
Military training is a phase of instruction at Mississippi State and all other land grant colleges. It is a requirement of the Act founding a national system of such colleges and universities that able-bodied male students who have not reached their junior year are required to take military.
The first two years or basic courses are required. The advanced course, whose academic and military records are above the average, is elective, and if successfully completed results in commissions in the Officers Reserve Corps.
Military classes are not designed primarily to train soldiers but to instill the responsibilities of citizenship, teach due regard for authority and how to assume authority, develop the man physically and when the occasion arises to immediately become an integral factor in the nation’s defense should war be thrust upon a peace loving people.
Uniforms are free and credits earned in military classes count toward degree requirements. Moreover, students of advanced military are paid about $9 per month, thus, helping many deserving and needy young man to compete their college education.
When the College was first established, students were under a rigid code of military discipline that assumed to anticipate every action of vigorous young men. That system held sway for years but was finally abandoned in favor of a more normal and self-sustaining code of behavior.
Back in the early days a student was required to work daily on the farm, march to and from classes, salute professors, walk “extras,” wear the uniform at all times and meet military formations at least a half-dozen times each day.
The demerit system was in vogue then, and the average student had to watch his step to keep from being “shipped” for excess marks.
Social life on campus as it is in one’s own community is largely what the individual makes it. He cuts his own pattern and fills it out. Starkville churches make special provisions for college students by providing Sunday School Classes and young people’s unions specifically for them.
The spirit of Mississippi state student bodies has always been a distinctive adjunct. It is a friendly group of students who have due regard for strangers and for each other.
Many changes have been wrought since the college opened its doors to students in the Fall of 1880. Yet the spirit of those who have studied here has not changed. The oldest graduate and the youngest freshman possess a common love for Alma Mater that blots out, to a large extent, differences in age.
At football games and other athletic contests, at alumni meetings, at homecomings and on all other occasions that have a common appeal the old and the young, if they are real sons or daughters of State, evince the same enthusiasms and loyalty for Mississippi’s largest institution of her learning.