One Century and Counting

The ATU Wonder Boys recently surpassed their centennial anniversary just last November, reflecting a century’s worth of challenging work and dedication on behalf of faculty and students alike. Tech’s athletics department is not the only campus entity with reason to celebrate, however, as Tech’s long and deep history has provided the foundation of excellence still present today.

Originally founded in 1909 as part of a statewide effort to increase agricultural education, as one of four colleges still operating in Arkansas today. Arkansas Tech was originally known as the Second District Agricultural School, and had only nine faculty members and 186 students. The Second District Agricultural School was originally meant to offer classes leading to a high school degree, with the addition of college level courses in the early 1920’s. To reflect this change in the school’s courses, the school’s name was changed to Arkansas Polytechnic College.

The school continued to grow, facing several setbacks due to the Great Depression and World War II. Despite these challenges, Arkansas Polytechnic College continued to grow and expand throughout the 20th century. As the college began to add courses leading to master and doctoral degrees, the campus name was changed to Arkansas Tech University on July 1, 1976. Though the numerous name changes and course offerings are apparent, some of the more significant changes can only be ascertained through the eyes of long employed Tech faculty members.

Steven Milligan, deputy director of the Office of Information Systems, offered insight into how Tech has changed during his 22 years at the campus.

Milligan said, regarding how Tech has not changed, that “the people haven’t changed; we still have great employees that care deeply about the university, its mission, and the students we serve.”

Tech’s faculty remains one of its strongest assets, with a dedicated and loyal staff all sharing Milligan’s devotion to the campus. Despite remaining static in many ways, Tech has undergone several significant developments just in recent memory.

He said “the most significant development was when Dr. (Robin) Bowen was hired in 2014,” and she became the first woman to lead a four-year public institution in Arkansas.

This massive milestone reflects Tech’s ability to change and progress, a key aspect of Tech since its original founding in 1909. When asked how he would summarize his time at Tech with a single sentence, Milligan said, ‘it has been a rewarding and fulfilling 22 years.”

Tech has an interesting and obscure history, originally starting as a high school offering unique agricultural courses. As the 20th century progressed, Tech adapted and evolved into the sprawling, lively campus that students and staff experience today. In its storied past, Tech has had devoted support from both students and faculty alike, which remains much the same today. When reflecting on how Tech will continue to grow and change in the future, students and staff share in Milligan’s hopes that ATU will “continue to grow and become one of the most sought-after institutions in the country.”

Old Main in 1917
Old Main in 1917
Homecoming 1934
Homecoming 1934
Business Class in 1955
Business Class in 1955

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