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THE LAND-GRANT COLLEGES and universities in the United States are the result of a partnership of the States and the Federal Government. They represent an effort to provide a type of higher education within the reach of, and adapted to the needs of, the agricultural and industrial people of this country. They have played a very important part in democratizing higher education and they continue to demonstrate the value both to the individual and to society of a type of higher education which is of high quality, yet practical.

In organization, the land-grant colleges and universities exemplify better than most other institutions the most effective relationship among research, campus instruction, and adult education. Each land-grant college or university maintains an agricultural experiment station to aid in solving the problems arising on the farms. It enriches its campus instruction in agriculture with the results of its research. It maintains an extension or adult education service to carry out to farmers and their families the latest information. This is a truly effective set-up which is relected in the remarkable agricultural development which has occurred in the last 60 years throughout the United States.

The Federal Security Agency through the Office of Education administers the Federal funds for campus instruction. This bulletin is one of the series issued periodically to make available texts of the laws and rulings under which the Agency operates. It is a slight revision of Bulletin 1951, No. 15.


U. S. Commissier of Education.

Vashington: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1932


Section I

What They Are

THE QUESTION is frequently asked, "What are the land-grant colleges and universities?"

To answer it, the following statement is made.

In the Colonial days higher education in this country was available only in a few institutions, such as Harvard, Yale, and William and Mary. These institutions at different times were subject to varying degrees of public control, but were essentially privately controlled. After the Revolutionary War the States began to organize universities as publicly controlled institutions. They were not essentially different from the privately controlled ones which by that time had grown relatively strong and were setting the pace for the development of collegiate education throughout the country.

During the first half of the nineteenth century the two types of colleges and universities, publicly controlled and privately controlled, developed side by side. Both were greatly influenced naturally by the European universities of which their leading professors were commonly products. But these European universities were organized to serve a society not predominantly democratic. University education was for the leisure classes, the government leaders, and members of the professions.

The American institutions, functioning in somewhat the same fashion, maintained chiefly the classical and professional curricula. They made only slight adaptations to the needs of a pioneer people. A study of such fields as agriculture and the mechanic arts was beneath their academic dignity.

The mild protest against this too exclusively classical type of college and university, grew into a widespread agitation by the middle of the nineteenth century. Agricultural societies in many States were insisting that there must be available colleges where agriculture could be studied. The already established colleges and universities remained largely uninfluenced, however, by this agi

tation. Hence, during the 1850's the Congress debated the issue and finally passed the Morrill Act in 1859. President Buchanan vetoed it essentially on the ground that it was in violation of the traditional policy of the Federal Government which had up to that time left the control of education to the States. In 1862 the Morrill Act was again passed and was signed by President Lincoln.

The fundamental purpose of the Morrill Act (see Sec. III for text of the Act) was to insure the development in each State of at least one college adapted to the educational needs of the agricultural and industrial classes. Without too much regard to the academic traditions which largely controlled the colleges and universities of the time, these new institutions to be known as landgrant colleges, were to afford a type of education which would foster the development of agriculture and the mechanic arts. Each State was left to decide whether this new college should be made a part of an already existing institution (commonly the State university) or whether it should be a completely separate institution. By the time all of the present 48 States were admitted into the Union, more than a score of States had developed both a State university and a land-grant college or university on separate campuses, usually under separate boards of control. A number of States which established separate land-grant institutions have in recent decades joined their State universities and their land-grant colleges or universities under single boards in their efforts to coordinate the programs of the two institutions in a given State. A few States, notably New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, utilize as land-grant institutions, universities with varying degrees of private control.

Thus has grown up a system of colleges and universities managed by each State but conforming to certain broad policy stipulations of Federal law. The Federal support contemplated in the initial Morrill Act was to be the income from public lands (30,000 acres for each Representative and Senator in Congress or equivalent in scrip) made available in each State. The State was expected to contribute to the maintenance of its land-grant institution as well as to provide its buildings.

From this modest beginning the Federal Government has expanded its contributions to the land-grant colleges and universities. Recognizing the need for research as a basis for developing agriculture, the Congress passed the Hatch Act in 1887 setting up in the land-grant institutions the system of agricultural experiment stations. In 1890 the second Morrill Act was passed supplementing by direct appropriation the income from the land-grants

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