The institution whose beginnings have been recounted in the biography of Benjamin F. Gue has had a glorious history of achievement. Its practical workings have permeated every county in the state, and its demonstrations of scientific agriculture and the mechanic arts have gone forth into other states and other nations.
The college formally opened on the 17th day of March, 1861. In 1882 its courses of study were defined. In 1909 it was turned over to the State Board of Education. Under the able presidency of Raymond Allen Pearson and vice-presidency of Edgar Williams Stanton, and the deanship of, Professors Curtiss, Marston and other eminently practical educators, it gives every evidence of preparedness for largely increased usefulness. Its campus is unsurpassed in beauty.
The college grounds include 1,400 acres, 175 of which are set apart for college purposes. Besides several dwellings, its farm, stock and machinery buildings are forty-two in number, all substantially built and architecturally imposing. The college property is valued at about three million two hundred thousand dollars; the college equipment is valued at five hundred thousand dollars. The degrees granted for 1872 to 1913 were 3,379. Its student body at the opening of the year 1915 was 3,200.
This institution has had three distinct periods of growth and development. Senator Morrill had a vision beyond his day when he framed the law which called land grant colleges into being. The people were not ready for an agricultural college in the strict sense of that term. From its opening in 1869 to 1890, the college at Ames was a scientific school. Many young men and young women went there to prepare themselves for the various pursuits and professions of life other than agriculture. They were attracted because a good general education could there be secured at a minimum cost.
About 1890, the engineering courses began to develop. Following the revival of business in 1898, the demand for men trained along these technical lines exceeded the supply, and for several years there was an increase in the number of students in these courses.
Then agriculture began to come into its own. The increased cost of foodstuffs and the rise in land values made increased production and soil-conservation paramount issues, and for the dozen years prior to the World War the development of the agricultural courses was almost phenomenal. The students in these courses, in 1915, outnumbered the engineers two to one.
The institution's generous response to the call of President Wilson for troops belongs to a later chapter.
The grand total enrollment at the State College in 1916-17 was 7,469. Of this number, the collegiate numbered 2,562; non-collegiate, 353; summer session, 683; winter short course, 3,871.
Iowa, Its History & Its Citizens, Volume 2, 1918
Submitted by Cathy Danielson