History of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources

Cow judging

The 1920 dairy judging short course. Short courses appealed to farmers because they were only eight weeks and met during the slow time of the year. Photo from University Archives, C:3/22/7.

The College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts was established Feb. 24, 1870. The college has undergone several name changes since then. Most recently it was renamed the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. The college is the only one of its type remaining in Missouri today.

George C. Swallow was the first professor and dean of the college. Although the program enjoyed immense growth during its early years, class sizes dwindled well past the turn of the century due to inadequate staffing and an underdeveloped academic curricula.

With increased funding by the state and the appointment of Frederick B. Mumford as dean in 1909, conditions dramatically improved. In addition to producing positive results for the college, Mumford convinced university administrators that space was needed for the college to flourish. As a result, several new buildings were constructed to house the program. They were the veterinary building (1911), Schweitzer Hall (1912), the hog cholera serum plant (1915), Gwynn Hall (1920), Mumford Hall (1925) and Eckles Hall (1938). Many of these buildings are still used by the college. However, the main administrative offices are now located in the Agriculture and Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources buildings.

In 1989, the School of Natural Resources was formed and housed within the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. However, some of its programs originated 50-80 years ago. It is the Midwest's only school with a comprehensive natural resources program, encompassing atmospheric science, fisheries, forestry, parks, recreation, soils, tourism and wildlife.

Faculty conduct cutting-edge research and site-specific studies at research farms and centers across the state and through the Missouri Agricultural Experiment at Sanborn Field, the research branch of the college.

Today, more than 2,000 undergraduate and 350 graduate students study in the college in a variety of fields. These include biochemistry, agribusiness management, agricultural journalism and plant sciences.