The Department of Entomology of the University of Maryland can trace its beginning to the origins of the Maryland Agricultural College. When the college opened on October 6, 1859, the chair of Botany and Entomology was vacant, but only briefly. That fall, Townend Glover, the first entomologist of the United States government, accepted the postion. With Glover's appointment, the teaching of entomology at Maryland began. This was, probably, the first such course offered in the United States.
Entomological work at Maryland was limited largely to teaching for the next thirty years. With Glover's return to his former position in the federal government in 1863, entomology at Maryland entered a period of instability and uncertain growth. Its place within the curriculum was not always secure. From 1876 to 1881, zoology replaced entomology as a subject in the course catalog of the college. New developments in the late 1880s would stabilize the department and provide a surer path for future growth.
The Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station opened in 1888 as an adjunct to the college, and a center for agricultural research. The 16th Bulletin of the station, published in 1892, included the first report of insect research at Maryland Agricultural College. One year later, Charles V. Riley, then Entomologist of the United States, initiated a cooperative agreement with the college and the station that fully established entomological research in Maryland. Riley accepted the appointment as head of the Department of Physiology and Entomology that same year. Although Riley died in 1895, he had added a research component to the teaching of entomology at Maryland.
Insect damage to Maryland crops in the mid-1890s led state legislators to establish the State Horticultural Department in 1896. The horticultural department was empowered to control infestation by insects through regulation, field work, and education. Willis Grant Johnson, then professor of entomology at the college and the entomologist for the Agricultural Experiment Station, became the first State Entomologist. Thus entomological teaching, research, and regulation were coordinated in Maryland. This combination of the academic, experimental, and practical aspects of entomology created a department strong in economic entomology.
This program was further enhanced in 1914 with the passage of the federal law creating the Agricultural Extension Service, which was designed to coordinate local, state, and national agricultural efforts. Thomas B. Symons, a former student of Willis Johnson and since 1905 both State Entomologist and professor of entomology and zoology, left the department to head the new Agricultural Extension Service in Maryland. Ernest Cory succeeded him as both State Entomologist and head of the department at Maryland. Dr. Cory retained both positions from 1914 to 1956. With the establishment of the extension service under Symons and the double appointment of Dr. Cory, the fourth focus of entomology at Maryland was added to teaching, research, and regulation--extension services and instruction.
These four activities have characterized the entomological program at the University of Maryland ever since. Resident teaching, extension instruction and services, experimental research and publication, and field work for regulatory control are the central interests of the Department of Entomology. These interests have been pursued in concert as a coherent program emphasizing economic entomology.
During the reorganization in 1920 that resulted in the University of Maryland system, the Department of Entomology and Zoology was divided into two; the Department of Entomology became a unit of the College of Agriculture and the Department of Zoology became a unit of the College of Arts and Sciences. Under the reorganization and Dr. Cory's administration, the Department of Entomology and economic entomology at Maryland came of age and thrived. The department concentrated its efforts in three areas: the eradication of insects introduced to the United States, such as the Japanese Beetle; the study of the effective use of DDT and other pesticides; and graduate level education in entomology.
William E. Bickley succeeded Cory as Head of the Department in 1957 and served until 1971. As part of the university reorganization in 1972 to a division structure, the department title "head" was changed to "chairman". Ernest C. Bay served as chairman of the department from 1972 to 1975. Allen J. Steinhauer served as acting chairman in 1975 and has served as the chairman since 1976.
Beginning in the 1970s, the Chairman reported directly to the Provost, the Director of the Experiment Station, and the Associate Provost for Extension. The division structure was abandoned in 1986. The Department of Entomology was then transferred to the College of Life Sciences, and the chairman now reports to the dean of the College of Life Sciences. Internally, the department is organized into committees that report to the chairman. At the head of these is the Steering Committee, which is composed of the Chairman, and representatives of the teaching, extension, and research committees, and a representative of the undergraduate and graduate students. There are five standing committees that exemplify the interests of the Department. These are 1) Teaching, 2) Extension, 3) Research, 4) Graduate Affairs, and 5) Public Affairs. The last of these is the committee that since 1969 has produced the department newsletter, The Enlightening Bug to aid communication within the, by then, quite large department.