In 1936 the School of Engineering—headed at that time by Dean Hugh M. Milton—introduced an art and architecture curriculum and hired a talented Cornell and Yale-trained architect, George Scott Gleason, as its instructor. Courses included “Elements of Architectural Design”, “History of Renaissance and Modern Architecture”, “Architectural Freehand” and “Historic Ornament.” The University Archives has in its collections nearly sixty examples of student assignments from these courses, many of which are now on display. The works show a sophisticated understanding of the Art Deco style prevalent during the 1930s and a confident grasp of draftsmanship, in addition to being quite beautiful in design. Where possible the current exhibit includes photographs of the student artist-draftsmen, some of whom went on to engineering careers after tours of duty during World War II. Two of the students (Paul Redford and Thomas Marion Palmer) died during the war and are remembered in NMSU’s Memorial Tower.
George Scott Gleason was a man of many interests as revealed in the 1936 ROUND-UP interview reproduced here. A life-long poet and novelist, he taught French and German after receiving his A. B. from Cornell University. He pursued graduate studies in Engineering and Architecture at several eminent universities, received a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Yale, and held various teaching assignments in engineering throughout the country. He came to New Mexico State University in 1936 as instructor in the architecture curriculum but departed at the beginning of World War II. He subsequently served as civilian instructor for the National Defense Training program and as an instructor in the Navy V-12 Training Program. Following the war, Gleason returned to the engineering faculty at Yale University. His faculty file from that institution indicates that he claimed no permanent address, having studied and taught throughout America and Europe his entire career. He was, however, a native of Glens Falls, New York and was interred there after his death in 1969.