A World Without Maroon: How Texas A&M Almost Called Austin Home

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Aggies everywhere will probably know the building Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, which was named after Edward Benjamin Cushing. The first library built on campus, it also stands as a reminder of the near consolidation of Texas A&M University and The University of Texas. That’s right, at one time, a large group of Texas legislators wanted to close Texas A&M (then the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas), move it to Austin, and merge it with UT. Indeed, 1912 was a tumultuous year in College Station.

A World Without Maroon: How Texas A&M Almost Called Austin Home

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After 36 years of instruction, several buildings had burned down, state funding was dramatically reduced, and there was a bit of a problem with hazing. Class of 1880, Edward Cushing worked for Southern Pacific Railroad and was appointed to the board of directors at A&M College in 1912 and elected president in 1913. When legislators in Austin submitted an amendment to Texas voters to merge the relatively young colleges, Cushing stepped in. He was instrumental in ensuring the future of A&M College by guaranteeing the school’s debts with credit tied to his personal finances and bringing state legislators to A&M College to prevent closure.

Rumored to have sent his own personal railcar to ferry the group to and from College Station, a visit convinced the legislators. Through money and campaigning, Cushing prevented a Texas A&M union with the University of Texas at Austin by highlighting the importance of offered agricultural and engineering programs to Texas.

A World Without Maroon: How Texas A&M Almost Called Austin Home

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Cushing died in 1924, and his will stipulated his collection of engineering texts, personal papers, and surveying equipment be donated to A&M College, with a request to build an official library, which was completed in 1930. Although no longer the official campus library, the building remains as an archive and a reminder of the man who lead the fight to keep Texas A&M maroon.

Additional reference used: Texas Highways, August 2008. “Speaking of Texas: The University of Texas A&M?”