Dr. Barnard and the Emphasis on Science

In the 1850's, two notable developments occurred which fostered some teaching of engineering at the University. In 1850, the State of Mississippi established the State Geological Survey and the University was given the prime responsibility for its execution. In 1852, several University professors made the first survey and as a result of this surveying courses were introduced into the curriculum.

The world famous scientist and educator, Dr. Frederick Agustus Porter Barnard, joined the University as a professor of mathematics, natural philosophy, and civil engineering in 1854. Dr. Barnard became the President of the University, a post he held until the school closed down due to the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. During his reign as President, Dr. Barnard coaxed large sums of money from the State Legislature and built one of the finest scientific laboratories in the nation. The science laboratories already had a fine start under Dr. Millington who brought much of his equipment from England and William and Mary including a portion of the 2000 plate galvanic battery, which had been used by Davy in discovering alkalis. Perhaps Dr. Barnard's most famous purchase was a huge telescope, which unfortunately was not completed until after the Civil War had broken out and then was re-routed to the Dearborn Observatory in Chicago.

As with many of the faculty in the early days, Dr. Barnard was closely associated with religion, being the priest at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Oxford. During the Civil War, Dr. Barnard returned to the North, but was very instrumental in persuading General Grant not to destroy the University. After the war, he became the President of Columbia University and is credited with bringing that University to first class status.

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