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The history of the Georgia Institute of Technologymarker can be traced back to Reconstruction-era plans to develop the industrial base of the Southern United States. Founded on October 13, 1885 in Atlanta, Georgiamarker as the Georgia School of Technology, the university opened in 1888 after the construction of Tech Towermarker and a shop building and only offered one degree in mechanical engineering. By 1901, degrees in electrical, civil, textile, and chemical engineering were also offered. In 1948, the name was changed to the Georgia Institute of Technology to reflect its evolution from a trade school to a technical institute and research university.

Georgia Tech is the birthplace of two other Georgia universities: Georgia State Universitymarker and Southern Polytechnic State Universitymarker. Georgia Tech's Evening School of Commerce, established in 1912 and moved to the University of Georgiamarker in 1931, was independently established as Georgia State University in 1955. Although Georgia Tech did not officially allow women to enroll until 1952 (and did not fully integrate the curriculum until 1968), the night school enrolled female students as early as the fall of 1917. The Southern Technical Institute (now Southern Polytechnic State University) was created as an extension of Georgia Tech in 1948 as a technical trade school for World War II veterans and became an independent university in 1981.

The Great Depression saw a consistent squeeze on Georgia Tech's budget, but World War II-inspired research activity combined with post-World War II enrollment more than compensated for the school's difficulties. Unlike the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech's longtime rival, Tech desegregated peacefully and without a court order in 1961. Similarly, it did not experience any protests due to the Vietnam War. The growth of the graduate and research programs combined with diminishing federal support for universities in the 1980s led President John Patrick Crecine to restructure the university in 1988 amid significant controversy. The 1990s were marked by continued expansion of the undergraduate programs and the satellite campuses in Savannah, Georgiamarker and Metz, Francemarker. In 1996, Georgia Tech was the site of the athletes' village and a venue for a number of athletic events for the Summer Olympics. Recently, the school has gradually improved its academic rankings and has paid significant attention to modernizing the campus, increasing historically low retention rates, and establishing degree options emphasizing research and international perspectives.


Atlanta during the Civil War (c.
See also: Georgia during Reconstruction and Georgia's postwar economic growth
As noted by a historical marker on the large hill in Central Campus, the site occupied by the school's first buildings once held fortifications built to protect Atlanta during the Atlanta Campaignmarker of the American Civil War. The surrender of the city took place on the southwestern boundary of the modern Georgia Tech campus in 1864. The next twenty years were a time of rapid industrial expansion; during this period, Georgia's manufacturing capital, railroad track mileage, and property values would each increase by a factor of three to four.

The establishment of a school of technology was proposed in 1882 during the Reconstruction period. Two former Confederate officers, Major John Fletcher Hanson and Nathaniel Edwin Harris, who became prominent citizens in the town of Macon, Georgiamarker after the war, strongly believed that the South needed to improve its technology to compete with the industrial revolution that was occurring throughout the North. Many Southerners at this time agreed with this idea, known as the "New South Creed." Its strongest proponent was Henry W. Grady, editor of the Atlanta Constitution during the 1880s. A technology school was thought necessary because the American South of that era was mostly agrarian, and few technical developments were occurring. Georgians needed technical training to develop the state's industry.

With authorization from the Georgia state legislature, Harris and a committee of prominent Georgians visited renowned technology schools in the Northeast in 1883; these included the Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker in Cambridge, Massachusettsmarker, the Worcester Polytechnic Institutemarker in Worcester, Massachusettsmarker, Stevens Institute of Technologymarker in Hoboken, New Jerseymarker, and The Cooper Unionmarker in New York Citymarker. Using these examples, the committee reported that the Worcester model, which stressed a combination of "theory and practice," was the embodiment of the best conception of industrial education." The "practice" component of the Worcester model included student employment and production of consumer items to generate revenue for the school. When the committee returned, they submitted their findings to the Georgia General Assembly as House Bill 732 on July 24, 1883. The bill, written by Harris, met significant opposition from various sources and was defeated. Reasons for opposition included the general resistance to education, specifically technical education, concerns voiced by agricultural interests, and fiscal concerns relating to the limited treasury of the Georgia government; the state's 1877 constitution prevented the state from spending beyond its means as a reactionary measure to excessive spending by "carpetbaggers and Negro leaders."

In February 1883, Harris submitted a second version, this time with the political support of contemporary political leaders Joseph M. Terrell and R. B. Russel as well as the popular support of the influential State Agricultural Society and the leaders of the University of Georgia, the latter of which would be the "parent college" of any state technical school. In 1885, House Bill 732 was submitted and passed the House 94-62. The bill was passed in the Senate with two amendments, and the amended bill was defeated in the House 65-53. After back-room work by Harris, the bill finally passed 69-44. On October 13, 1885, Georgia Governor Henry D. McDaniel signed the bill to create and fund the new school. The legislature then established a committee to determine the location of the new school. The school was officially established, and subsequent efforts to repeal the law were suppressed by supporter and Speaker of the House W. A. Little.

Governor McDaniel appointed a commission in January 1886 to organize and run the school. This commission elected Harris chairman, a position he would hold until his death. Other members included Samuel M. Inman, Oliver S. Porter, Judge Columbus Heard, and Edward R. Hodgson; each was known either for political or industrial experience. Their first task was to select a location for the new school. Letters were sent to communities throughout the state, and five bids were presented by the October 1, 1886 deadline: Athensmarker, Atlantamarker, Maconmarker, Penfieldmarker, and Milledgevillemarker. The commission inspected the proposed sites from October 7, 1886 to October 18, 1886. Patrick Hues Mell, the president of the University of Georgiamarker at that time, believed that it should be located in Athens with the University's main campus, like the Agricultural and Mechanical School.

The committee members voted exclusively for their respective home cities until the 21st ballot when Porter switched to Atlanta; on the 24th ballot, Atlanta finally emerged victorious. Students at the University of Georgia burned Judge Heard in effigy after the final vote was announced. Atlanta's bid included $50,000 from the city, $20,000 from private citizens (including $5,000 from Samuel M. Inman), and a $2,500 in guaranteed yearly support, along with a gift of of land from Atlanta pioneer Richard Peters instead of the initially proposed site in Atlanta's bid, which was near land that Lemuel P. Grant was developing, including Grant Parkmarker. The school's new location was bounded on the south by North Avenue, and on the west by Cherry Street. Peters then sold five adjoining acres of land to the state for $10,000. This land was situated on what was then Atlantamarker's northern city limits. The act that created the school had also appropriated $65,000 towards the construction of new buildings.

Early years

Includes the administration of Isaac S. Hopkins (1888–1896)

The Georgia School of Technology opened its doors in the fall of 1888 with only two buildings, under the leadership of professor and pastor Isaac S. Hopkins. One building (now Tech Towermarker, the main administrative complex) had classrooms to teach students; the other featured a workshop with a foundry, forge, boiler room, and engine room. It was designed specifically as a "contract shop" where students would work to produce goods to sell, creating revenue for the school while the students learned vocational skills in a "hands-on" manner. Such a method was seen as appropriate given the Southern United States' need for industrial development. The two buildings were equal in size and staffing (five professors and five shop supervisors) to show the importance of teaching both the mind and the hands. At the time, there was some disagreement as to whether the machine shop should have been used to turn a profit. The contract shop system ended in 1896 due to its lack of profitability, after which point the items produced were used to furnish the offices and dorms on the campus.

The first class of students at the Georgia School of Technology was small and homogeneous, and educational options were limited. 85 students signed up on the first registration day, October 7, 1888, and the enrollment for the first year climbed to a total of 129 by January 7, 1889. All but one or two of the students were from Georgia. Tuition was free for Georgia residents and $150 ($ today) for out-of-state students. The only degree offered was a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, and no elective courses were available. All students were required to follow exactly the same program, which was so rigorous that nearly two thirds of the first class failed to complete it.

Tech began its football program with several students forming a loose-knit troop of footballers called the Blacksmiths. The first season saw Tech play three games and lose all three. Discouraged by these results, the Blacksmiths sought a coach to improve their record. Leonard Wood, a local Atlantan, heard of Tech's football struggles and volunteered to player-coach the team. In 1893, Tech played its first game against the University of Georgiamarker (Georgia). Tech defeated Georgia 28-6 for the school's first-ever victory. The angry Georgia fans threw stones and other debris at the Tech players during and after the game. The poor treatment of the Blacksmiths by the Georgia faithful gave birth to the rivalry now known as Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.

The words to Georgia Tech's famous fight song, Ramblin' Wreck From Georgia Tech, are said to have come from an early baseball game against rival Georgiamarker. Some sources credit Billy Walthall, a member of the first four-year graduating class, with the lyrics. According to a 1954 article in Sports Illustrated, "Ramblin' Wreck" was written around 1893 by a Tech football player on his way to an Auburn game. In 1905, Georgia Tech adopted it as its official fight song, in roughly the current form, although it had apparently been the unofficial fight song for several years. It was published for the first time in the school's first yearbook, the 1908 Blueprint. Entitled "What causes Whitlock to Blush," words such as "hell" and "helluva" were censored as "certain words [are] too hot to print." After Michael A. Greenblatt, Tech's first bandmaster, heard the band playing the song to the tune of Charles Ives's A Son of a Gambolier, he wrote a modern musical version. In 1911, Frank Roman succeeded Greenblatt as bandmaster; Roman embellished the song with trumpet flourishes and publicized it. Roman copyrighted the song in 1919.

Tech's first student publication was the Technologian, which ran for a short time in 1891. The next student publication was established in 1894 and was called The Georgia Tech. The Georgia Tech published a "Commencement Issue" that reviewed sporting events and gave information about each class. The Techniquemarker was founded in 1911; its first issue was published on November 17, 1911 by editors Albert Blohm and E.A. Turner, and the content revolved around the upcoming rivalry football game against the University of Georgia. The Technique has been published weekly ever since, with the exception of a brief period that the paper was published twice weekly. The Georgia Tech and the Technique operated separately for several years following the Technique s establishment, though the two publications eventually merged in 1916.

Trade school

Includes the administration of Lyman Hall (1896–1905)
In 1888, Captain Lyman Hall was appointed Georgia Tech's first mathematics professor, a position he held until his appointment as the school's second president in 1896. He had a solid background in engineering due to his time at West Pointmarker and often incorporated surveying and other engineering applications into his coursework. He had an energetic personality and quickly assumed a leadership position among the faculty. As president, Hall was noted for his aggressive fundraising and improvements to the school, including his special project, the A. French Textile School. In February 1899, Georgia Tech opened the first textile engineering school in the Southern United States, with $10,000 from the Georgia General Assembly, $20,000 of donated machinery, and $13,500 from supporters. It named the A. French Textile School, after its chief donor and supporter, Aaron S. French. The textile engineering program would move to the Harrison Hightower Textile Engineering Building in 1949.

Lyman Hall's other goals included enlarging Tech and attracting more students, so he expanded the school's offerings beyond mechanical engineering; the new degrees introduced during Hall's administration included electrical engineering and civil engineering in December 1896, textile engineering in February 1899, and engineering chemistry in January 1901. Hall also became infamous as a disciplinarian, even suspending the entire senior class of 1901 for returning from Christmas vacation a day late.

The Tech football team noted a particular coach during their initial abysmal run: their first game of the 1903 season was a 73-0 destruction at the hands of John Heisman's Clemson Tigers. Tech went after Heisman following the 1903 season, and hired him for $2,250 a year and 30% of the home ticket sales. Heisman would not disappoint the Tech faithful as his first season was an 8-1-1 performance. He would also muster a 5-game winning streak against the hated Georgia Bulldogs from 1904-1908 before incidents lead up to the cutting of athletic ties with Georgia in 1919.

Lyman Hall died on August 16, 1905 during a vacation at a New Yorkmarker health resort. His death while still in office was attributed to stress from his strenuous fund raising activities (this time, for a new Chemistry building). Later that year, the school's trustees named the new chemistry building the "Lyman Hall Laboratory of Chemistry" in his honor.

On October 20, 1905, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Georgia Tech campus. On the steps of Tech Tower, Roosevelt presented a speech about the importance of technological education:

He then shook hands with every student. Tech was later visited by president-elect William H. Taft on January 16, 1909 and president Franklin D. Roosevelt on November 29, 1935.

World War I

Includes the administration of Kenneth G. Matheson (1906–1922)
Georgia Tech's Evening School of Commerce began holding classes in 1912. The school admitted its first female student in 1917, although the state legislature did not officially authorize attendance by women until 1920. Anna Teitelbaum Wise became the first female graduate in 1919 and went on to become Georgia Tech's first female faculty member the following year.

Upon his hiring in 1904, John Heisman (for whom the Heisman Trophy is named) insisted that the Institute acquire its own football field. Previously, the team had used area parks, especially the playing fields of Piedmont Parkmarker. Georgia Tech took out a seven-year lease on what is now the southern end of Grant Fieldmarker, although the land wasn't adequate for sports, due to its unleveled, rocky nature. In 1905, Heisman had 300 convict laborers clear rocks, remove tree stumps, and level out the field for play; Tech students then built a grandstand on the property. The land was purchased by 1913, and John W. Grant donated $15,000 ($ today) towards the construction of the field's first permanent stands; the field was named Grant Fieldmarker in honor of the donor's deceased son, Hugh Inman Grant.

World War I caused several changes at the school. During the conflict and for some time afterwards, Georgia Tech hosted a school for cadet aviators and supply officers, army technicians, and started the a Reserve Officer Training Corps unit that would become a permanent addition to the school, the first in the Southern United States. World War I would also affect the school academically: the United States government asked and paid for an automotive school for army officers, a rehabilitation program for disabled soldiers, and a geology department. Federal aid also helped to establish Tech's Industrial Education Department, courtesy of the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917. The war also placed on hold extensive fundraising efforts for a new power plant, and made it difficult to find engineers willing to teach at the school; Matheson's tour of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and MIT in 1919 failed to secure a single hire, as none of the students wished to work for such low wages.

The bitter rivalry between Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia flared up in 1919, when UGA mocked Tech's continuation of football during the United States' involvement in World War I. Because Tech was a military training ground, it had a complete assembly of male students. Many schools, such as Georgia, lost all of their able-bodied male students to the war effort, forcing them to temporarily suspend football during the war. In fact, Georgia did not play a game from 1917-1918.

When UGA renewed its program in 1919, their student body staged a parade, which mocked Tech's continuation of football during times of war. The parade featured a tank shaped float marked "Argonnemarker" with a sign "Georgia in France 1917" followed by an automobile with three people in Tech sweaters and caps bearing a sign "Tech in Atlanta". A printed program was subsequently distributed in the stands with a similar point. While the Tech faculty was able to prevent a riot, no apology was made, and thus this act would lead directly to Tech cutting athletic ties with UGA and canceling several of UGA's home football games at Grant Fieldmarker (UGA commonly used Grant Field as its home field). Tech and UGA would not compete in athletics until the 1921 Southern Conference basketball tournament. Despite intense pressure on Tech to make amends, President Matheson stated that he would never change his mind unless "due apologies" were offered, and if he was overruled, he would resign. Regular season competition would not renew until after Matheson's retirement in a 1925 agreement between the two institutions, negotiated by athletic directors J. B. Crenshaw and S. V. Sanford.

In 1916, Georgia Tech's football team (still coached by John Heisman) defeated Cumberland 222-0, the largest margin of victory in college football history. Cumberland's total net yardage was -28 (minus 28), and it had only one play for positive yards. Cumberland beat Georgia Tech's baseball team 22 to 0 the previous year, reportedly with the help of professional players Cumberland had hired as "ringers," an act which infuriated Heisman. Heisman coached Tech all the way up until 1919. He had amassed 104 wins over 16 seasons, and lead Tech to its first national title in 1917. However in 1919, he had divorced his wife and felt that he would embarrass his wife socially if he remained in Atlanta. Heisman moved to Pennsylvania, leaving Tech's Yellow Jackets in the hands of William Alexander.

In its first decades of existence, the school slowly grew from a trade school into a university. However, the state and federal governments provided little initiative for the school to grow significantly until 1919. That year, the Georgia General Assembly passed an act entitled "Establishing State Engineering Experiment Station at the Georgia School of Technology." This change coincided with federal debate about the establishment of Engineering Experiment Stations in a move similar to the Hatch Act of 1887's establishment of agricultural experiment stations; each Engineering Experiment Station would be a consultant group dedicated to assisting a region's industrial efforts. Thus, the EES at Georgia Tech was established with the goal of the "encouragement of industries and commerce" within the state. However, the coinciding federal effort failed and the state did not finance the Georgia Tech's EES, so the new organization existed only on paper.

The latter years of Matheson's presidency were marred by a chronic shortage of funds. In 1919-1920, the school had 1,365 students using facilities designed for 700, and had the same appropriation in 1919 that it had in 1915, $100,000; 1915's appropriation was worth $ today, and 1919's appropriation was worth $ ; the value was nearly halved due to inflation. Matheson was able to acquire a $25,000 increase from the General Assembly that year. In 1920-1921, though, an increase of $125,000 (to $250,000) was passed but subsequently tabled due to differences between the House and Senate version of the bill unrelated to Tech. To continue running the school, a frantic scramble for funds was undertaken, resulting in $40,000 from the General Education Board, $30,000 from a loan fund organized by the Georgia Rotary Clubmarker, and a grant from the Atlanta City Council. The University of Georgiamarker, in a similar financial condition, was forced to cut its faculty's salary. After this drama, the situation did not improve, though; in 1922-1923, only $112,500 of the requested $250,000 had been appropriated, leading Matheson to reluctantly start charging tuition of in-state students. The rates were $100 for in-state students ($ today) and $175 for out-of-state students ($ today). Georgia Tech still needed a $125,000 line of credit against its first professional fund-raising effort, the "Greater Georgia Tech Campaign".

As Matheson was leaving for the presidency of Drexel Institutemarker in late 1921, he wrote in the Atlanta Constitution that while Georgia Tech was "my first love" he found it a "humiliating burden" to get enough money from the state legislature to run and enlarge the school. The Georgia Tech's Board of Trustees offered him a substantial pay increase, but his issue was with the politics of the time, and not with his financial situation.

Technological university

Includes the administration of Marion L. Brittain (1922–1944)
On August 1, 1922, Marion L. Brittain was elected as the school's president. During his tenure, Brittain was able to convince the state of Georgia to increase the school's funding. He had noted in he 1923 annual report that "there are more students in Georgia Tech than in any other two colleges in Georgia, and we have the smallest appropriation of them all." Additionally, a $300,000 grant ($ today) from the Guggenheim Foundation allowed Brittain to establish the David Guggenheim School of Aeronautics. In 1930, Brittain's decision to use the money for a School of Aeronautics was controversial; today, the David Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering boasts the second largest faculty in the United States behind MITmarker. Other accomplishments during Brittain's administration included a doubling of Georgia Tech's enrollment, accreditation for the Institute by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the creation of a new ceramic engineering department, building, and major that attracted the American Ceramics Society's national convention to Atlanta.

During this era, William Alexander ran the Yellow Jackets football program. Tech resumed playing against the University of Georgia in 1925. In 1927, Alexander instituted "the Plan." Georgia was highly rated to start the 1927 season and justified their rating throughout the season going 9–0 in their first 9 games. Alexander's plan was to minimize injuries by benching his starters early no matter the score of every game before the UGA finale. On December 3, 1927, UGA rolled into Atlanta on the cusp of a National Title. Tech's well-rested starters shut out the Bulldogs 12–0 and ended any chance of UGA's first National Title. Alexander's 1928 team would be the very first Tech team to attend a bowl game. The team had amassed a perfect 9–0 record and was invited to the 1929 Rose Bowl to play California. The game was a defensive struggle with the first points being scored after a Georgia Tech fumble. The loose ball was scooped up by California Center Roy Riegels and then accidentally returned in the wrong direction. Riegels returned the ball all the way to Georgia Tech's 3 yard line. After Riegels was finally tackled by his own team, the Bears opted to punt from the end zone. The punt was blocked and converted by Tech into a safety giving Tech a 2–0 lead. Cal would score a touchdown and point after but Tech would score another touchdown to finally win the game 8–7. This victory made Tech the 10–0 undefeated National Champions of 1928. It was Tech's second National Title in 11 years.

In 1929, some Georgia Tech faculty members belonging to Sigma Xi started a Research Club at Tech that met once a month. One of the monthly subjects, proposed by ceramic engineering professor W. Harry Vaughan, was a collection of issues related to Tech, such as library development, and the development of a state engineering station. Such a station would theoretically assist local businesses with engineering problems via Georgia Tech's established faculty and resources. This group investigated the forty existing engineering experiments at universities around the country, and the report was compiled by Harold Bunger, Montgomery Knight, and Vaughan in December 1929.

The Georgia Board of Regents transferred control of the Evening School of Commerce to the University of Georgiamarker in 1931, moving the civil and electrical engineering courses at UGA to Tech. Tech replaced the commerce school with a degree in Industrial Management that evolved into Tech's College of Managementmarker. The commerce school eventually split from UGA and became Georgia State Universitymarker.

In 1933, S. V. Sanford, president of the University of Georgia, proposed that a "technical research activity" be established at Tech. President Marion L. Brittain and Dean William Vernon Skiles asked for and examined the Research Club's 1929 report, and moved to create such an organization. Vaughan was selected as its acting director in April 1934, and $5,000 in funds were allocated directly from the Georgia Board of Regents. These funds went to the previously-established EES; its initial areas of focus were textiles, ceramics, and helicopter engineering. Georgia Tech's EES later became the Georgia Tech Research Institutemarker (GTRI).

The EES's early work was conducted in the basement of the Shop Building, and Vaughan's office was in the Aeronautical Engineering Building. By 1938, the Engineering Experiment Station was producing useful technology, and the station needed a method to conduct contract work outside of the state budget. Consequently, the Industrial Development Council (IDC) was formed. It was created by the Chancellor of the University System and the president of Georgia Power Company, and the Engineering Experiment Station's director was a member of the council. The IDC later became the Georgia Tech Research Corporation, which currently serves as the sole contract organization for all Georgia Tech faculty and departments.

World War II resulted in a dramatic increase of sponsored research, with the 1943-1944 budget being the first in which industry and government contracts exceeded the engineering station's other income (most notably, its state appropriation). Director Vaughan had initially prepared the faculty for fewer incoming contracts as state had cut the station's appropriation by 40 percent, but increased support from industry and government eventually counteracted low state support. The electronics and communications research that Director Rosselot attracted is still a mainstay of GTRI research. Two of the larger projects were a study on the propagation of electromagnetic waves, and United States Navy-sponsored radar research.

Until the mid 1940s, the school required students to be able to create a simple electric motor regardless of their major. During the second world war, as an engineering school with strong military ties through its ROTC program, Georgia Tech was swiftly enlisted for the war effort. In early 1942 the traditional nine-month semester system was replaced by a year-round trimester year, enabling students to complete their degrees a year earlier. Under the plan, students were allowed to complete their engineering degrees while on active duty. During World War II, Georgia Tech was one of only five U.S. colleges feeding the U.S. Navy's officer programmarker.

Postwar changes and unrest

Includes the administrations of Blake R. Van Leer (1944–1956), Paul Weber (interim, February 1956-August 1957)
A sign marks one entrance to Georgia Tech's campus, bearing its modern name.
Founded as the "Georgia School of Technology," the school assumed its present name on July 1, 1948 to reflect a growing focus on advanced technological and scientific research. The name change was first proposed on June 12, 1906, but never gained momentum until Van Leer's presidency. Unlike similarly-named universities (such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker and the California Institute of Technologymarker), the Georgia Institute of Technology is a public institution. Concurrent with the name change, President Emeritus Marion L. Brittain published The Story of Georgia Tech, the first comprehensive, book-length history of the Institute.

The Southern Technical Institutemarker (STI) was established in 1948 in barracks on the campus of the Naval Air Station Atlantamarker (now DeKalb Peachtree Airportmarker) in Chambleemarker, northeast of Atlanta. At that time, all colleges in Georgia were considered extensions of the state's four research universities, and the Southern Technical Institute belonged to Georgia Tech. STI was established as an engineering technology school, to help military personnel returning from World War II gain a hands-on experience in technical fields. Around 1958, the school moved to Marietta, to land donated by Dobbins Air Force Basemarker. The Southern Technical Institute was later split from Georgia Tech in 1981. The split coincided with the separation of most other regional schools from the University of Georgiamarker, Georgia State Universitymarker, and Georgia Southern Universitymarker.

The only women that had attended Georgia Tech did so through the School of Commerce. After it was removed in 1931, women were not able to enroll at the school until 1952. In 1952, women could only enroll in programs not offered at other universities in Georgia. In 1968, the Board of Regents voted to allow women to enroll in all programs at Tech. The first women's dorm, Fulmer Hall, opened in 1969. Women constituted 28.6% of the undergraduates and 25.8% of the graduate students enrolled in Fall 2006.

After a successful (8-1-1) 1955 American football season, Tech was invited to play in the 1956 Sugar Bowl in New Orleansmarker against the University of Pittsburghmarker. It would be the school's fifth straight bowl appearance under renowned coach Bobby Dodd. Pittsburgh had a black starting player, fullback Bobby Grier, but as Tech played a 1953 game against a desegregated Notre Damemarker team, and the University of Georgia had very recently played out-of-state games against desegregated opponents, president Blake Van Leer and the Tech Athletic Association saw the game's contract as acceptable. However, racial tension in the South was high following the recent Brown v. Board of Education decision. Privately, Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin had given head coach Bobby Dodd his support, but surprised the campus and the state on Friday, December 2, 1955 by bowing to pressure from segregationists and sending a wire to the Georgia Board of Regents chairman, Robert A. Arnold, requesting not only that Tech not play the game, but all University System of Georgia teams play only segregated games.

Enraged, Tech students organized an impromptu protest rally on campus. At midnight, a large group of students hung the governor in effigy and ignited a bonfire. They then marched to Five Pointsmarker, the Georgia State Capitolmarker, and the Georgia Governor's Mansionmarker, hanging the governor in effigy at each location. The students did some minor damage to Governor's Mansion before the march was dispersed by state representative "Muggsy" Smith at 3:30 a.m.

Van Leer's only comment to the media came on Saturday, December 3, 1955: "I am 60 years old and I have never broken a contract. I do not intend to start now." At a tense meeting of the Board of Regents on Monday, it was decided that Georgia Tech would be allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl. The new policy was that "all laws, customs and traditions of host states would be respected but all games played in Georgia would be segregated," a policy that would remain until 1963. The regents, with the exception of Tech alum David Rice, condemned the "riotous" behavior of Tech students. Rice instead criticized Marvin Griffin, and was lauded by The Techniquemarker as the "only man with the moral conviction to stand up against Griffin, ... and co." Ironically, Tech defeated Pittsburgh 7-0 because of a pass interference call on the black player in question (Bobby Grier). Blake Van Leer died six weeks after this incident, on January 23, 1956; the stress of the incident was believed to have shortened his life.

Integration and tradition

Includes the administrations of Edwin D. Harrison (1957–1969) and Arthur G. Hansen (1969–1971)

On January 17, 1961, a meeting of 2,741 students in the Old Gym voted by an overwhelming majority to endorse integration of qualified applicants, regardless of race. Three years after the meeting, and one year after the University of Georgiamarker's violent integration, Georgia Tech became the first university in the Deep South to desegregate without a court order, with Ford Greene, Ralph A. Long, Jr. and Lawrence Michael Williams becoming Georgia Tech's first three African American students. The ANAK Society claims to have met with their families and discreetly kept an eye on the students once they enrolled to ensure peaceful integration.

There was little reaction to this by Tech students who, like the city of Atlanta described by former mayor William Hartsfield, were "too busy to hate." However, Lester Maddox chose to close his restaurant (located near the modern-day Burger Bowlmarker) rather than desegregate after losing a year-long legal battle in which he challenged the constitutionality of the public accommodations section (Title II) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1965, John Gill became The Techniquemarker s first black editor, and Tech's first black professor, William Peace, joined the faculty of the Department of Social Sciences in 1968.

Students across the nation protested the Vietnam War, even at similar institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker, where students picketed and blocked access to the Draper Laboratory that was producing guidance systems for the Poseidon missile. While The Techniquemarker did publish editorials against the United States' involvement, the Student Council easily defeated a bill endorsing the Vietnam Moratorium in the fall of 1969. While there were significant protests at other institutions that conducted military research, there were no protests against the military electronics research at the Georgia Tech Research Institutemarker. There was similar nationwide concern over the United States' involvement in the Cambodian Civil War, resulting in the Kent State shootingsmarker, which in turn caused about 450 colleges to suspend classes. In Georgia, the student response was largely restrained. Several hundred students at the University of Georgiamarker marched on the home of president Frederick Corbet Davison demanding that the school be closed; consequently, all schools in the University System of Georgia were closed on May 8 and 9. While there were no protests at Tech, the students were still concerned over the events at Kent State; on May 8, four hundred students and faculty filled Bertha Square for a student-organized memorial, after which the students left quietly.

Georgia Tech's mascot Buzz got his start in the 1970s. The original Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket mascot was Judi McNair who donned a homemade yellowjacket costume in 1972 and performed at home football games. She rode on the Ramblin' Wreck and appears in the 1972 Georgia Tech Blueprint yearbook. McNair's mascot was considered a great idea, as it was a big hit with the fans. In 1979, McNair's idea for a Yellow Jacket was reintroduced by another Georgia Tech student, Richie Bland. Bland, who was apparently unaware of McNair's prior initiative, paid $1,400 to have a local theme park costume designer make a yellowjacket costume that he first wore at a pep rally prior to the Tennessee football game. Rather than obtain permission from Georgia Tech as Judi had done in 1972, this student simply snuck onto the field in costume during a football game and ran across the field. The fans naturally believed that this costumed character was acting as an official member of the cheerleading squad and responded accordingly. By 1980, this new incarnation of the yellow jacket mascot was given the name Buzz Bee and was adopted as an official mascot by Georgia Tech. This new Buzz character would be the model for a new Georgia Tech emblem, designed in 1985 by Mike Lester.

Reorganization and expansion

Includes the administrations of Joseph M. Pettit (1972–1986) and John Patrick Crecine (1987–1994)

The Institute celebrated its centennial in 1985. Among other observances, a time capsule was placed in the Student Center, and a team of historians wrote a comprehensive guide to Georgia Tech's history, Engineering the New South: Georgia Tech 1885-1985 (ISBN 0-8203-0784-X). A companion course was taught that year by two of the book's six authors. The course was offered again in 1999 as a swan song to the quarter system.

Institute President John Patrick Crecine proposed a controversial restructuring of the university in 1988. The Institute at that point had three colleges: the College of Engineering, the College of Managementmarker, and the catch-all COSALS, the College of Sciences and Liberal arts. Crecine reorganized the latter two into the College of Computingmarker, the College of Sciences, and the Ivan Allen College of Management, Policy, and International Affairs. Crecine announced the changes without asking for input, and consequently many faculty members disliked him for his top-down management style. The administration sent out ballots in 1989, and the proposed changes passed, with very slim margins. The restructuring took effect in January 1990. While Crecine was seen in a poor light at the time, the changes he made are considered visionary.

In October 1990, Tech's first overseas campus, Georgia Tech Lorrainemarker (GTL), opened. It is a non-profit corporation operating under French law. GTL primarily focuses on graduate education, sponsored research, and an undergraduate summer program. In 1997, GTL was sued under Toubon Law because the course descriptions on its internet site were not provided in French; these course descriptions constituted an advertisement for this private college and thus fell under the Toubon Law. The case was dismissed on a technicality, though the GTL site now offers course descriptions in English, French and German.

John Patrick Crecine was instrumental in securing the 1996 Summer Olympics for Atlanta. A dramatic amount of construction occurred, creating most of what is now considered "West Campus" in order for Tech to serve as the Olympic Village. The Undergraduate Living Center, Fourth Street Apartments, Sixth Street Apartments, Eighth Street Apartmentsmarker, Hemphill Apartments, and Center Street Apartments housed athletes and journalists. The Georgia Tech Aquatic Centermarker was built for swimming events, and the Alexander Memorial Coliseummarker was renovated.

Modern history

Includes the administrations of G. Wayne Clough (1994–2008) and George P. "Bud" Peterson (2009-present)
In 1994, G. Wayne Clough became the first Tech alumnus to serve as the President of the Institute, and was in office during the 1996 Summer Olympics. In 1998, he separated the Ivan Allen College of Management, Policy, and International Affairs into the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Artsmarker and returned the College of Managementmarker to "College" status. During his tenure, research expenditures have increased from $212 million to $425 million, enrollment has increased from 13,000 to 18,000, Tech received the Hesburgh Award, and Tech's U.S. News & World Report rankings have steadily improved.

Clough's tenure has especially focused on a dramatic expansion and modernization of the institute. Coinciding with the rise of personal computers, computer ownership became mandatory for all students in 1997. In 1998, Georgia Tech was the first university in the Southeastern United States to provide its fraternity and sorority houses with internet access. A campus Local Area Wireless/Walkup Network (LAWN) was established in 1999, and now covers most of campus. In 1999, Georgia Tech began offering local degree programs to engineering students in Southeast Georgia, and in 2003 established a physical campus in Savannah, Georgiamarker, called Georgia Tech Savannah. Clough's administration has also focused on improved undergraduate research opportunities and the creation of an "International Plan" degree option that requires students to spend two terms abroad and take internationally-focused courses.

A "Master Plan" for the physical growth and development of the institute has existed since 1912, and has seen significant revisions in 1952, 1965, 1991, 1997, and 2002. The latter two of those major revisions have been under Clough's guidance. While Clough was in office, around $1 billion was been spent on expanding or improving the campus. These projects include the construction of the Manufacturing Related Disciplines Complex, 10th and Home, Tech Squaremarker, The Biomedical Complex, the completion and subsequent renovations of several west campus dorms, the Student Center renovation, the expanded 5th Street Bridge, the Georgia Tech Aquatic Centermarker's renovation into the CRC, the new Health Center, the Klaus Advanced Computing Buildingmarker, the Molecular Science and Engineering Building, and the (as of 2007, under construction) Nanotechnology Research Centermarker.

The school has also taken care to maintain its Historic District, with several projects dedicated to the preservation or improvement of Tech Towermarker, the school's first and oldest building and its primary administrative center. As part of Phase I of the Georgia Tech Master Plan of 1997, the area was made more pedestrian-friendly with the removal of access roads and the addition of landscaping improvements, benches, and other facilities. The National Register of Historic Places has listed the Georgia Tech Historic Districtmarker since 1978. In the 2007 "Best of Tech" issue of The Techniquemarker, students voted "construction" as Georgia Tech's worst tradition.

On March 15, 2008, Clough was appointed to lead the Smithsonian Institutionmarker, effective July 1, 2008. Dr. Gary Schuster, Tech's Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, was named Interim President, effective July 1, 2008. On February 9, 2009, George P. "Bud" Peterson, chancellor of the University of Colorado at Bouldermarker was named the finalist of the presidential search.

See also


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