Science and Practice: the Stockbridge Legacy

Students who choose to major in Sustainable Food and Farming at UMass Amherst are encouraged to seek practical experience in the form of internships, either during the summer or school year.  The value of these experiences are acknowledged by awarding academic credit of up to 9 credits during the summer or 12 credits during the regular semester.  While any faculty member may sponsor an internship, one member of the faculty is specifically assigned the responsibility to insure the experience is indeed educational and appropriate to receive academic credit.

Nevertheless, some faculty and administrators have questioned the value of professional practice, claiming this experience should be valued as an elective or perhaps not receive credit at all.   The tension between the perceived value of classroom education and professional practice goes back to the early days of UMass, when the same question was raised by faculty of the “old college” – Amherst College – about the “new college” – Massachusetts Agricultural College (Mass Aggie).

cropped-lefi.jpgIndeed, Levi Stockbridge and his colleagues were engaged in this debate 150 years ago. Professor Stockbridge wrote in his report to the Massachusetts Board of Agriculture in 1867, about the first class accepted into Mass Aggie….  “the plan was adopted, I say, that every young man who came there should work upon the land six hours in a week ; that the·whole class should work, upon  the  land, as a part of their regular school education,…” Continue reading Science and Practice: the Stockbridge Legacy

Who was French Hall named after?

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Have you ever wonder who French Hall was named after?

You have surely walked by the plaque near the front door commemorating Henry Flagg French, the first President of Massachusetts Agricultural College (Mass Aggie).

henryfrenchA native of New Hampshire and graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, French loved agriculture but spent most of his career as a lawyer and a judge.  He operated a farm, did his own agricultural research and was considered a leader in the emerging application of science to agriculture.

French held the post of president for two years, resigning in 1866 even before any students had arrived.  According to Henry Bowker, a student who entered Mass Aggie with the first class in 1867, and remained connected as an alum and trustee for many years, “Judge” French “was a keen, sensitive man, with q good mind, highly trained and well informed, rather distant in manner, but kindly in nature.”   Professor French was said to be well ahead of his time in his thinking on agriculture. Continue reading Who was French Hall named after?

What can we learn today from "Prof Stock"?