Science education at UT Arlington prior to 1965
The institution known as UT Arlington started out as Arlington College in 1895. It was co-founded by Edward Emmett Rankin, an Arlington civic leader, along with Lee M. Hammond and William M. Trimble, to improve the availability of quality education in the recently founded rural town. A private institution, Arlington College’s first class of roughly 75 students received schooling from the elementary to about today’s high school level. The college consisted of a single wood frame, two-story building located at the current site of the E.H. Hereford University Center. In 1902, the school was converted into Carlisle Military Academy, which included classes in physics, chemistry, geology and botany during its 11-year history.
In 1913, the institution was renamed Arlington Training School; it retained the emphasis on military training. A new annex building was completed to the southeast of the original building in 1916, with biology, chemistry and physics labs located in the half-sunken basement floor. In 1916-17, the institution operated as Arlington Military Academy.
In 1917, the school became a branch of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M). The institution was renamed Grubbs Vocational College, in honor of Judge Vincent Grubbs, who led a campaign to create the school. New buildings were constructed, including a three-story brick administration building now known as Ransom Hall, which opened in 1919. It included a classroom and laboratory designated for chemistry and another room designated for “science” use.
In 1923, Grubbs was renamed North Texas Agricultural College (NTAC) and included courses for the final two years of high school as well as junior college. In 1928 the first building specifically designed for science classrooms and labs was completed, with facilities for biology, chemistry, physics as well as agriculture (geology, mathematics and psychology classes were held in other buildings). Originally named the Science Building, it is known today as Preston Hall. A structure which became known as the Roundhouse was built adjacent to the Science Building. It was originally used for showing livestock and was later used for art classes and history department offices before being converted into the institution’s first planetarium in 1981.
NTAC became Arlington State College in 1949; the institution was by this time the largest state-supported junior college in the Southwest. In 1949, Science Hall was completed to the west of the Science Building, which was renamed Preston Hall. Science Hall contained classroom and lab space for biology, chemistry and physics classes. In 1951, the Geosciences Building was completed, providing classroom and lab space for geology courses just to the north of Science Hall. An addition to Science Hall was completed in 1965.
In 1959, after more than a decade of effort, Arlington State College became a four-year institution. Academic units were organized under the School of Arts and Sciences — which included the departments of biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, physics and education/psychology — and the School of Engineering. With ASC’s enrollment growing steadily, administrators lobbied the Texas A&M System board for additional funding and for the creation of graduate programs. ASC administrators felt their school’s interests were being unfairly subordinated to College Station. After five years of being denied by Texas A&M, and with support from North Texas state legislators and business leaders, a bill to transfer ASC to the University of Texas System was passed in 1965.
A new era: 1965 and the School/College of Science
In 1965, ASC’s academic structure was reorganized with the creation of the School of Science, the School of Liberal Arts and the School of Business Administration joining the School of Engineering. In 1967, ASC was formally renamed UT Arlington. The School of Science, which was comprised of biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics and physics, was renamed the College of Science in 1973. The psychology department — which was combined with sociology from 1928-48 and then with the education department until 1960, when it became its own department — was part of the School of Liberal Arts until 1975, when it moved into the College of Science. In 1992, the Department of Chemistry became the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The Department of Geology became the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences in 2007.
From its creation in 1895 as Arlington College into the 1960s when it was Arlington State College, the institution’s focus was on teaching. The move to a four-year college and the expansion of facilities and of faculty hiring led to the introduction of research programs by faculty members in various departments. The introduction of graduate-level studies also served to build the College’s research profile as faculty recruited graduate students to conduct research in their laboratories while working on their degrees. More and more faculty began applying for and receiving state and federal grants to support their research.
Although UT Arlington is recognized today as having one of the most diverse student bodies of any U.S. university, that wasn’t always the case. The institution was off-limits to minorities until Fall 1962, when the first African-American students were admitted. Scarlett Maxwell became the first African-American graduate of Arlington State College when he received a B.S. in Biology in June 1966. He went on to medical school and an extremely successful career as a physician and medical field executive. Today, the College of Science mirrors the rich cultural diversity found in the University as a whole, with students of every race and religious background, from every state in the U.S. and six continents.
Numerous departments launched graduate programs once ASC became a four-year institution. The mathematics, physics and psychology departments began offering master’s degrees in 1966, followed by biology and chemistry in 1968 and geology in 1970. The creation of Ph.D. programs at UT Arlington would prove to be a prolonged struggle. The state’s coordinating board for higher education programs wanted to avoid the expense of the state offering new advanced degrees which were already offered at other institutions in the same geographical area. Gradually, through the determined efforts of faculty and administrators, doctoral degree programs were implemented. Psychology began offering a Ph.D. in 1971, followed by mathematics in 1974. D.Sc. degrees in chemistry and physics were added in the mid-1980s; these were changed to traditional Ph.D. degrees in the 1990s. Biology and geology also added doctoral programs.