The Great Fire, Maryland Agriculture College, 1912

The Baltimore Sun, December 2, 1912

The Baltimore Sun, December 2, 1912
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Rev. Dr. Steffens Advances Plan For Agricultural College.


Says Other Such Colleges Do More For Farmers Than Does the Maryland Institution.

Believing that this is an opportune time to express an opinion regarding the management of the Maryland Agricultural College which suffered the loss of several buildings by fire last week, Rev. Dr. D.H. Steffens, a member of the state board of Immigration and the Mission Board of the Lutheran Church, declared yesterday in favor of State control of the college. Dr. Steffens said:

"Every man interested in agriculture in Maryland and every friend of the Maryland Agricultural College must regret the destruction of its two more important buildings by fire last Friday night. The trustees, I understand, are to meet tomorrow to discuss the question of practically rebuilding.

Money Probably Ready.

"The opinion has been expressed that this may be safely undertaken, since the State at the next session of the Legislature would not fail to provide the necessary funds. I hope that this will be done. I may be pardoned if I express the opinion that this is a most opportune time to ask ourselves if the Maryland Agricultural College is to simply continue on its old lines, or whether it is to be reorganized in such a measure as to increase its importance and usefulness to this state.

Performs Real Service.

"Since the State is expected to defray, at least in part, the expense of rebuilding, every citizen has a right to ask this question.

"It may be true that the Maryland Agricultural College is a semi-public institution, subsidized by this State, and only partially under the control of the State. If this is correct it raises the question of the wisdom of continuing this arrangement. The largest and most efficient agricultural colleges of this country are State Institutions.

Different Elsewhere.

"While we Marylanders may pride ourselves on our having had the first agricultural college in the United States, we cannot say that this institution ranks with the agricultural colleges of Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

"Indeed, the number of students at our agricultural college who are studying agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry is lamentably small. The Agricultural Department of Pennsylvania State College has 824 students, 624 of them in its four-year courses. How many has the Maryland Agricultural College?

Girls Taught Also.

"Most of our Western agricultural colleges are co-educational. They not only train farmers but they also train farmers' wives — men and women who can work hand in hand for the uplift of their communities. What has the Maryland Agricultural College done in this direction?

"I am convinced that our State is upon the threshold of an immense agricultural development. Immigration from the Middle West, the field demonstration work of the general education fund: the most interesting experiment of Dr. Cyril [Hodgins] in lower Prince George's, where a successful effort is being made to restore worn out soil to fertility and productiveness, convince me that the time has come for us to ask ourselves if the Maryland Agricultural College is organized to do its full share in the promoting of this development?

Urges Progress.

"If not, let us ask ourselves what ought to be done? To simply replace the building destroyed by this fire with the assumption that the people of this State will foot the bill may mean the loss of such an opportunity as presented itself to Baltimore after its disastrous fire of 1904.

"I am intensely interested in the development of our southern counties and I have a fair knowledge of their agricultural conditions. I therefore hope that the State and the trustees of the college will make the most of this present opportunity and plan whatever is done along broad and progressive lines."

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