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Land Grant Universities, Est. 1862
A land-grant university is a special and unique type of institution of higher education in the United States. The mission of these institutions has been to provide a practical education in fields such as agriculture, science, military science, and engineering. The land-grant system has revolutionized higher education and has had tremendous impact on the skills of the common man.
The Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890 funded educational institutions by granting federally controlled land to the states for them to sell to raise funds to establish and endow “land-grant” colleges. Subsequent land-grant acts have brought the total number of institutions to more than 70, which educate hundreds of thousands of students each year.
The Land-Grant Mission
The land-grant university concept represents a dynamic educational experience: the body of knowledge constantly changes through research and experimentation and is disseminated to the public through extension education. New knowledge brings new ideas and expanded opportunities, often followed by new milestones and advancements in the land-grant university experience.
In the late 1850s, then U.S. Congressman Justin Smith Morrill from Vermont envisioned universities that were accessible to all, including the working class. And unlike the higher-education institutions of his time, these universities would reach out to improve communities and make their research widely available. The Morrill Act has provided a broad segment of the population with a practical education that has direct relevance to their daily lives.
Signed into law in 1862, the Morrill Act fostered the land-grant mission, which has evolved to serve not only our nation, but also the global population. And as that mission has evolved, universities across the nation have revolutionized the concept of what it means to be a land-grant university and is always planning for what lies ahead. The need for land-grant universities has never been greater. Currently, one-sixth of the world’s population suffers from chronic hunger. More than two billion people worldwide live in regions facing water scarcity. And global competition for natural resources is becoming fiercer.
Land-grant university programs benefit many, from individuals to the international community. And together, land-grant universities, are making a powerful and profound impact on our states, our nation, and our world.