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1862 and 1890 Land-Grand Institutions

Greensboro, NC: In North Carolina's bustling atmosphere of higher education and technology development, it's sometimes easy to overlook the influence that agriculture and the state's two land-grant institutions have had on North Carolina history.
"Many people aren't completely aware of the missions of land-grant institutions," explains Dr. Daniel D. Godfrey, dean of North Carolina A&T State University's School of Agriculture. "When you explain that two land-grant institutions exist in the same state, the issue becomes even more complex."

Land-grant institutions have their beginnings in the Morrill Act of 1862. They take their name from the fact that governments granted states land to establish institutions of higher education, specifically institutions that teach agriculture and the mechanical arts.

The traditional land-grant mission focuses on three areas: teaching, research and extension.

"Teaching students on our campus is only part of what a land-grant institution does," said Godfrey. "We are also committed to supporting the agricultural and life science fields with research, and we are committed to extending research-based information and educational programs to the state's citizens through North Carolina Cooperative Extension."

All 50 states, and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Guam, have at least one land-grant university with the three-part mission.

Seventeen southeastern states are unique in that they are home to two land grant institutions. The 1890 institutions, named for the year legislation creating them was enacted, are historically black.

North Carolina A&T State University and other 1890 land-grant institutions were created by the Second Morrill Act, in 1890, which expanded the system of land-grant universities to include an historically black institution in those states where segregation denied minorities access to the land-grant institution established by the First Morrill Act, in 1862.

Today NC A&T works closely with the state's 1862 land-grant institution, North Carolina State University, and beyond the state's borders with other land grant institutions.

"Land-grant institutions like A&T and NC State began as agricultural schools, but as agriculture and society have evolved, so too has the mission of the land-grant institution," said Godfrey. "We are now called upon to come together to address larger issues that require the involvement of several institutions."

Now, instead of directing the majority of its curricula toward teaching students about production agriculture, faculty at land-grant institutions guide students in such fields as landscape architecture, fashion design and agricultural engineering.

Research efforts range from international trade to the causes of birth defects, while Cooperative Extension has added such areas as youth development and consumer education to its docket of production agriculture and marketing.

Still, in spite of its diverse nature, the commitment of land-grant institutions to the state's citizens remains unchanged.

"Having two land-grant institutions in the same state is a tremendous benefit to North Carolina," said Godfrey. "By working closely with NC State, we ensure that every issue is addressed, and by focusing on different segments of the state's population, we ensure that the state's underserved limited-resource population is not overlooked."

 

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