OVERVIEW OF THE INSTITUTION AND THE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION UNIT
A 132-Year History of Preparing Educators
Prairie View A&M University, the second oldest public institution of higher education in Texas, originated in the Texas Constitution of 1876. On August 14, 1876, the Texas Legislature established the “Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas for Colored Youths” and placed responsibility for its management with the Board of Directors of the Agricultural and Mechanical College at Bryan. The A&M College of Texas for Colored Youths opened at Prairie View, Texas on March 11, 1878.
The University’s original curriculum was designated by the Texas Legislature in 1879 to be that of a “Normal School” for the preparation and training of teachers. This curriculum was expanded to include the arts and sciences, home economics, agriculture, mechanical arts, and nursing after the University was established as a branch of the Agricultural Experiment Station (Hatch Act, 1887) and as a Land Grant College (Morrill Act, 1890). Thus began the tradition of agricultural research and community service, which continues today.
In 1919, the four-year senior college program was begun and, in 1937, a division of graduate studies was added, offering master’s degrees in agricultural economics, rural education, agricultural education, school administration and supervision, and rural sociology.
In 1945, the name of the institution was changed from Prairie View Normal and Industrial College to Prairie View University, and the school was authorized to offer, “as need arises,” all courses offered at the University of Texas. In 1947, the Texas Legislature changed the name to Prairie View A&M College of Texas and provided that “courses be offered in agriculture, the mechanics arts, engineering, and the natural sciences connected therewith, together with any other courses authorized at Prairie View at the time of passage of this act, all of which shall be equivalent to those offered at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas at Bryan.” On August 27,1973, the name of the institution was changed to Prairie View A&M University, and its status as an independent unit of the Texas A&M University System was confirmed.
In 1981, the Texas Legislature acknowledged the University’s rich tradition of service and identified various statewide needs which the University should address including the assistance of students of diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds to realize their full potential, and assistance of small and medium-sized communities and businesses in their growth and development.
In 1983, the Texas Legislature proposed a constitutional amendment to restructure the Permanent University Fund to include Prairie View A&M University as a beneficiary of its proceeds. The Permanent University Fund is a perpetual endowment fund originally established in the Constitution of 1876 for the sole benefit of Texas A&M University and the University of Texas. The 1983 amendment also dedicated the University to enhancement as an “institution of the first class” under the governing board of the Texas A&M University System. The constitutional amendment was approved by the voters on November 6, 1984.
In January 1985, the Board of Regents of the Texas A&M University System responded to the 1984 Constitutional Amendment by stating its intention that Prairie View A&M University become “an institution nationally recognized in its areas of education and research.” The Board also resolved that the University receive its share of the Available University Fund, as previously agreed to by Texas A&M University and the University of Texas. In October 2000, the Governor of Texas signed the Priority Plan, an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights to make Prairie View A&M University an educational asset accessible by all Texans. The Priority Plan mandates creation of many new educational programs and facilities. It also requires removing language from the Institutional Mission Statement which might give the impression of excluding any Texan from attending Prairie View A&M University.
The University’s enrollment now exceeds 8,350 including more than 2,000 graduate students. These students come from throughout the United States as well as many foreign countries. In the last five years, 5,970 degrees were awarded, including more than 2,400 graduate degrees. During the University’s 130-year history, some 46,000 academic degrees have been awarded.
Prairie View A&M University is dedicated to excellence in teaching, research and service. It is committed to achieving relevance in each component of its mission by addressing issues and proposing solutions through programs and services designed to respond to the needs and aspirations of individuals, families, organizations, agencies, schools, and communities-both rural and urban. Prairie View A&M University is a state-assisted institution by legislative designation, serving a diverse ethnic and socioeconomic population. Having been designated by the Texas constitution as one of the three “institutions of the first class” (1984), the University is committed to preparing undergraduates in a range of careers including but not limited to engineering, computer science, natural sciences, architecture, business technology, criminal justice, the humanities, education, agricultural sciences, nursing, mathematics, and the social sciences. It is committed to advanced education through the master’s degree in education, engineering, natural sciences, nursing, selected social sciences, agriculture, business, and human sciences. It is committed to expanding its advanced educational offerings to include multiple doctoral programs.
Though the University’s service area has generally extended throughout Texas and the world, the University’s target service area for offering undergraduate and graduate programs of study includes the Texas Gulf Coast Region; the rapidly growing residential and commercial area known as the Northwest Houston Corridor; and urban Texas centers likely to benefit from Prairie View A&M University’s specialized programs and initiatives in nursing, juvenile justice, architecture, education, and social work. The University’s public service programs offered primarily through the Cooperative Extension Program targets the State of Texas, both rural and urban counties. The University’s research foci include extending knowledge in all disciplines offered and incorporating research-based experiences in both undergraduate and graduate students’ academic development.
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