Texas A&M University was the state of Texas' first public institution of higher education, opening on October 4, 1876 as the Agricultural and
Mechanical College of Texas
. The school owes its origin to the Morrill Act of 1862, which established the
nation's land-grant university system. Texas A&M was
originally established as a military institution (similar to VMI or The Citadel), but membership in the
school's Corps of
Cadets became voluntary in 1965, and the admission of women to the university was
allowed. Membership in the Corps also allows for commissioning in any of the branches of military service although, while once
required, military commission is now voluntary. Today, the Corps still boasts membership of nearly 2,000 men and women.On August 23, 1963, the name of the
institution was changed to "Texas A&M University"
to more accurately reflect its expanding role in teaching, research,
and public service for the state, nation and world. The initials "A"
are a link to the university's past;
they no longer represent any specific words as the school's curriculum has grown to include not only agriculture and engineering, but now offers degrees
in almost 160 courses of study through 10 different colleges. Texas A&M has awarded more than 284,000 academic degrees,
including approximately 61,000 graduate and professional degrees.