Most Texans today know of Lawrence Sullivan Ross only by his namesake, Sul Ross State University, or for his role in the capture of Cynthia Ann Parker as a fabled Texas Ranger. A few may know that he was a general in the Confederate army or that he served as the nineteenth governor of Texas. But for former and current students of Texas A&M University, he is known as “Sully”—an affectionate nickname referring to the oldest campus statue, which is the repository of wished-upon pennies left for good luck prior to taking final exams.
In Sul Ross at Texas A&M, John A. Adams Jr., chronicler of Texas A&M University history, presents an in-depth examination of Ross’s life as a college president. Adams shows how by the late 1880s, the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas was on the brink of collapse. Student discontent, administrative mismanagement, and faculty factionalism threatened the continued existence of the fledgling school. The college’s board of directors were desperate and offered the presidency to Ross.
Adams details the steps Ross took to bring order out of chaos, expanding and modernizing the college and leading the school’s finances out of the red. Many Aggie traditions first took shape during Ross’s tenure: the class ring, the band, and even the school’s first intercollegiate football game against the University of Texas. Ross’s years at the helm were transformative. Fans of A&M and Texas history will be enthralled by this captivating account of Sul Ross’s time as president of A&M.
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Published by Texas A&M University Press