UMD Then and Now: The Horticulture Department

What was the University of Maryland like in 1928? In 1968? How does it compare to 2018? Then and Now explores the evolution of the University of Maryland over the years. This week’s spotlight: the Horticulture Department!

The Horticulture Department, better known today as the Department of Plant Sciences and Landscape Architecture, has been a part of the curriculum at the University of Maryland since the very beginning. Horticulture has been a part of university curriculum since the Maryland Agricultural College opened to students in 1859. Early on, Horticulture was not its own separate department; rather it was coursework in the larger field of agriculture. Students focused on practical experience and fieldwork conducted with the Agricultural Experiment Station. Through the years, focus shifted to academic research and lab work, although practical knowledge and job experience are still key. 

Horticulture 1.pngStudents plant lilies in Horticulture class, 1900

By 1928, Horticulture was its own distinct department with four tracks for specialization: Pomology (Fruits), Olericulture (Vegetables), Floriculture (Flowers), and Landscape Gardening. Professors in the department also worked for the Agricultural Experiment Station, an agricultural research facility affiliated with the University.

Horticulture 2.pngAll dressed up and no place to go…except class! Female students in Horticulture class, 1925.

Horticulture 3.pngStudents in the Horticulture Department in 1928 took a variety of classes including  “Public Speaking,” “Greenhouse Construction,” and “Vegetable Forcing.”

By 1968, the course of study expanded to include Ornamental Horticulture and Processing of Horticultural Crops. The Department also shifted its focus towards industry, preparing students to enter the field as fertilizer manufacturers and equipment managers. 

Horticulture 4.pngCurriculum in 1968 bears strong similarities to the coursework of 1928. However, focus has shifted to lab work and technology. Courses like “Flower Production Laboratory” and “Technology of Ornamentals” indicate the growing role of technology in science following World War II.

Today the Horticulture Department is called the Department of Plant Sciences and Landscape Architecture. Specializations are available in Plant Biology, Landscape Management, Turf and Golf Course Management, or Urban Forestry. The department supports both undergraduate and graduate studies, and the four specializations blend elements of science, design, technology, and fieldwork. 

Horticulture 5.pngCurrent courses in the Department of Plant Sciences show more science courses and laboratory work.

The Horticulture Department is a long-standing element of the curriculum at University of Maryland. Since the creation of the Maryland Agriculture College in 1856, the department has changed dramatically. Coursework has shifted, and lab attire has changed. You won’t see fur coats in the lab today! However, the focus on preparing students to make meaningful contributions beyond the classroom has remained constant. Whether they graduated in 1928 or 2018, Horticulture students from UMD are prepared to make an impact in the field.

To see more about changes to academic department through the years, including course catalogs from 1859 to 2018, visit https://www.lib.umd.edu/univarchives/catalogs.

 

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