fohn William Mallet aNd rhe
University of exas
FRANK E. VANDIVER
T HE University of Texas, which opened its doors in 1888,
was fortunate to have as its first chairman of the faculty
a man of great scientific attainment and progressive edu-
cational ideas. John William Mallet, Irish-born chemist, was a
Fellow of the Royal Society, an Associate Fellow of the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences, an Honorary Member of the
Sociedad de Acclimacion, and a member of several other profes-
sional organizations. He was President of the American Chemical
Society for 1882. He had published seventy-one original research
papers by 1883 and was actively engaged in further research.
The institution to which Mallet came had the promise of a
great future. Ashbel Smith, chairman of the board of trustees
of the University of Texas, sought Mallet during the summer of
1882, when plans for opening the university the next year had
matured sufficiently to permit selection of the faculty. Mallet,
formally offered the position of professor of chemistry and chair-
man of the faculty, made a trip to Austin before Christmas of
that year to see the university. After viewing the town and
hearing Ashbel Smith's evaluation of the financial future of the
institution, Mallet decided to accept the position, and came to
an "understanding" with the University regents.2
In the course of the summer of 1883 a meeting of the members
of the faculty of the Texas University was held in Nashville,
Tennessee. Here, general plans for organization and curricula
were approved, and Mallet went down to Austin in August. The
University formally opened in September, although the central
building was far from completed, and teaching had to be done
under some handicaps in the building temporarily serving as the
capitol of the state of Texas.
1William H. Echols, "John W. Mallet: Scholar, Teacher, Gentleman," in Alumni
Bulletin of the University of Virginia, VI (1913), 18, 1g.
21bid., 22, 283.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 53, July 1949 - April, 1950. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101126/. Accessed February 1, 2015.