The first public institution of higher education in Texas began in 1871 when the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas was established as a land-grant college by the Texas Legislature. Classes began on October 4, 1876. Although Texas A&M was originally established under the Texas Constitution as a branch of the yet-to-be-created University of Texas, subsequent acts of the Texas Legislature never gave University of Texas any authority over Texas A&M. In the 1960s, the Texas Legislature renamed the school Texas A&M University, with the “A&M” becoming purely symbolic. Under leadership of James Earl Rudder, the school became racially integrated and coeducational. Membership in the Corps of Cadets became voluntary.
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