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Maroon and White

Maroon and White: Mississippi State University, 1878-2003

Copyright Date: 2008
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    Maroon and White
    Book Description:

    Mississippi State University was founded in 1878 and opened its doors in 1880 as a land-grant school de-signed for teaching agriculture and mechanical arts. Building upon the work of John K. Bettersworth, Michael B. Ballard traces the evolution of this institution. From the beginning, first president Stephen D. Lee wanted to expand the university\'s vi-sion beyond agriculture and engineering. While admit-ting that these should be the focal points, the school gra-dually introduced studies in the humanities.

    The university evolved around the expectation of being the \"People\'s Col-lege,\" drawing students from rural areas and poor back-grounds and giving them a chance to succeed in higher education. There remains a broad cross-section in the student body from many backgrounds, including a substantial number of African American and international students. This kind of mix, which extends to the faculty, has strengthened the research capabilities of the university and broadened the academic landscape in ways Lee never dreamed.

    The author covers many other facets of MSU, such as how it has been affected by national events through the years, including the Great Depression, World Wars I and II, and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

    Michael B. Ballard is the university archivist and coordinator of the Congressional and Political Research Center at Mississippi State University. He is the author of numerous books on the Civil War, including Pemberton: The General Who Lost Vicksburg and Civil War Mississippi: A Guide, both from University Press of Mississippi.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-310-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. A Tribute to John K. Bettersworth (1909–1991)
    (pp. ix-x)
    Michael B. Ballard
  4. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. 1 Roots and Birth
    (pp. 1-8)

    During the turmoil of the 1850s in the United States, when the issue of slavery gave birth to a new political party, the Republicans, and tore apart an old one, the Democrats, Justin Smith Morrill, a U.S. congressman from Vermont, had something on his mind more important to him than abolitionists, fire-eaters, Bloody Kansas, and Dred Scott. In February 1856, Morrill addressed the House of Representatives and proposed a board of agriculture empowered to set up “one or more national agricultural schools upon the basis of the naval and military schools, in order that one scholar from each Congressional district,...

  6. 2 The Formative Years under General Lee, 1880–1899
    (pp. 9-40)

    Stephen Dill Lee was born in South Carolina, September 22, 1833, to a well-to-do family in Charleston. Family trees indicated a very distant kinship to Confederate General Robert E. Lee, so distant that for many years Stephen believed that he was not kin to the famed Virginian. Educated at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, Stephen graduated seventeenth out of forty-six in the class of 1854. He was a veteran of the Seminole Indian wars in Florida and served in various midwestern posts before leaving the army to serve in the military of the Confederacy in 1861....

  7. 3 Hardy Expansion, 1900–1912
    (pp. 41-63)

    A seemingly logical choice for Stephen D. Lee’s successor did not turn out as the board of trustees expected. John Marshall Stone, like Lee, had served the Confederate cause, and he had been governor of Mississippi when the A&M College had been founded in 1878. Even Frank Burkitt applauded the choice, remembering no doubt that Stone had been on the original board. Perhaps because of Stone’s advanced age, and perhaps because he had undiagnosed medical problems, his tenure as the college’s second president lasted only about a year before he fell fatally ill. While president, Stone wisely made no drastic...

  8. 4 Hightower, Smith, and World War, 1912–1920
    (pp. 64-82)

    When Hardy left, there seemed to be unanimity among those who would make the decision about who should replace him. George R. Hightower had been born in Grenada County, Mississippi, and he had long had a penchant for higher education. After graduating from a regional normal college in Chickasaw County, Hightower established his own college, Abbeville Normal, but the venture did not last, and he became a mathematics teacher at Grenada Collegiate Institute. Ill health plagued him, so he changed course, dabbled in farming and livestock production, and got interested in politics. He was elected superintendent of education in Lafayette...

  9. 5 Hull, Walker, and Critz: The 1920s and the Dark Years, 1920–1934
    (pp. 83-105)

    The stock market crash of 1929 only underscored what had been going on in agriculturally based Mississippi since the end of the war. Low prices hounded farmers, keeping the state’s tax base low and making it difficult to keep an institution of higher learning like Mississippi A&M running at all. The budgetary problems left behind by President Smith only exacerbated the situation, but two men named Hull and Walker managed to keep A&M moving forward through the twenties; though their accomplishments were not spectacular, they deserved some credit, given the ever-present money problems, for having any at all. The farmers...

  10. 6 Humphrey and Mitchell: War and Peace, 1934–1953
    (pp. 106-130)

    His full, impressive-sounding name was George Duke Humphrey, and little did he know when he was elected to be the ninth president of Mississippi State College on June 5, 1934, that he would be immortalized in later years by having the campus coliseum named in his honor, which has become known simply as “the Hump.” Humphrey barely got the position, winning out in the board vote by a single ballot in the two-man race over A. B. Butts, a respected political scientist at the college, who, during his time there as a faculty member, had made a lasting, positive impression...

  11. 7 Hilbun and Colvard: A University and Racial Challenges, 1953–1966
    (pp. 131-165)

    Benjamin Franklin Hilbun was inaugurated as the eleventh president of Mississippi State College on July 14, 1954. Hilbun, known locally as “Mr. Ben,” had been around the campus most of his adult life, having graduated from the school and having served as head of public relations, registrar, and administrative assistant to President Mitchell before becoming acting president in 1953. Hilbun had become so embedded with the college, its activities, and its operations that it was, said John Bettersworth, “difficult to tell where the college left off and Ben Hilbun began.” Certainly Hilbun understood the significance of the college’s service functions,...

  12. 8 Giles: Low-Key, High Results, 1966–1976
    (pp. 166-205)

    In 1947, John Stennis won a special election for a seat in the United States Senate with a promise that he would plow a straight furrow right down to the end of his row. Most observers would agree that by the time Stennis retired from the Senate forty-two years later, his furrow was still straight, his integrity recognized and affirmed by all who knew him, no matter their political affiliation. Much the same could be said of Dean Colvard’s successor, William Lincoln Giles. Giles never gained the fame of a Stennis, but he never wanted to. He wanted to keep...

  13. 9 McComas: Seeking a Balance, 1976–1985
    (pp. 206-257)

    When William Giles stepped down as MSU president, university faithful hoped that his successor would be as good, with luck perhaps better. The subject of a possible woman president never came up despite the growth of women’s rights throughout the country. This simply said that MSU was, like the state in which it is located, not quite ready for big change and had succumbed only when it seemed unavoidable. So a West Virginia male became Giles’s successor. His name was James Douglas McComas, and he proved to be a good president, though whether his record was better than Giles’s would...

  14. 10 Zacharias: The Starship Years, 1985–1997
    (pp. 258-303)

    Donald Wayne Zacharias was forty-nine years old when he came to Mississippi State as the institution’s fifteenth president in 1985. The Indiana native brought with him a love of the outdoors, especially camping and fishing. He cherished his wife, Tommye, a native Georgian who came from an air force family, and their three children, Alan, a junior at Vanderbilt, Eric, a freshman at Indiana University, and daughter Leslie, a high school freshman. Tommye had been an English literature major and had taught in the Indiana public school system, and Donald, a communications theorist, which one Mississippi newspaper thought to be...

  15. 11 Portera and Lee: Big Business and Steady Hands, 1998–2003
    (pp. 304-350)

    Malcolm Portera, a native of West Point, Mississippi, had, by the time he became Mississippi State University’s sixteenth president on January 1, 1998, made quite a name for himself in the neighboring state of Alabama. Born in January 1946, he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at MSU in 1969 and 1971 (his wife, Olivia, was also an MSU grad) before going to the University of Alabama to earn his doctoral degree in 1977, all his degrees being in political science. When he was selected MSU’s new president, he was fifty-one years old, and when he assumed the office he...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 351-384)
  17. Addenda Miscellany
    (pp. 385-392)
  18. Bibliographic Notes
    (pp. 393-394)
  19. Index
    (pp. 395-402)