Keep the statue of Governor Lawrence Sullivan Ross in front of the Academic building
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Recently, an online petition has been circulating regarding the removal of the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross. Texas A&M prides itself in its esteemed traditions and history, and Sully represents both. The selfless service Ross provided to our school and our state is thankless, and the least we can do is preserve the humble statue which stands on our campus and serves as the cornerstone of many Aggie traditions including Silver Taps and placing a penny on the very statue in question. Below is a list of only a few of Sully’s many accomplishments and contributions to the well-being and success of the state of Texas and Texas A&M University.
Contributions as President of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas
1890 – 1898
· Ross resigned his office as one of the most successful governors in Texas history in order to act as the president of the college which had become a laughing stock and was facing closure.
· When Ross arrived, there was no running water, insufficient cadet housing, a disinterested faculty, and extremely poor discipline. Sully, at his own expense, had all the buildings remodeled, brought on new faculty, and built a three-story dormitory.
· In order to improve the quality of education, Ross introduced a common curriculum for all students despite their career path, personally interviewed all perspective cadets and faculty, and used state funding to lower the cost of tuition and make the college more affordable. Ross even pushed for the introduction of women into the college and was met with heavy resistance, but managed to allow the family of faculty and staff to attend class regardless of gender.
· Ross was known to be very accessible to all students and attended as many student activities and athletic events as possible and garnered the reputation as being “slow to condemn, yet ready to encourage.” But more importantly, Ross issued an official memorandum against hazing and banned its practice at the college.
· Ross would eventually become a beloved figure among students and faculty alike and his untimely death while serving as president came as a shock to the school. He was laid in state on the academic plaza, where his statue has stood for over 100 years, and the students held the very first Silver Taps in honor of their late President.
Contributions as Governor of Texas
1886 – 1890
· Following the Civil War, Ross was reluctant to enter public life and returned to his old family farmstead near Waco, however, in 1885 he was approached about receiving the Democratic nomination for governor, which he refused initially and later reluctantly accepted. Ross would win a landslide victory and preside over the state government he helped shape as a member of the 1875 constitutional convention.
· During his first term as governor, Ross oversaw the expansion and establishment of both Texas A&M and Texas A&M Prairie View, Texas’ first place of higher learning for African Americans.
· Ross would also successfully push tax, land, and education reform that made him extremely unpopular with the Democratic party at the time and was branded a Republican sympathizer and radical progressive.
· During his Reelection campaign neither the Republican or Progressive Party would field a candidate, stating they were satisfied with Ross’s performance, however his own party fielded an official candidate that ran against Ross in the general election on a white supremacist platform.
· Later, during his second term, Ross would enact the state’s first anti-trust and labor laws much to the dismay of his Democrat compatriots and well ahead of any federal legislation.
· Ross would also introduce Arbor day as well as preside over the only special session of the state legislature convened in order to deal with a budget surplus, which Ross insisted be spent as tuition assistance across the state, furthermore, the number of state funded charitable institutes doubled from 4 to 8 and greatly expanded their operations under Sully's leadership.
“Lawrence Sullivan Ross, 1838 – 1898, solider, statesmen, knightly gentleman, brigadier general CSA, governor of Texas, and president of the A&M college.”
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