1890 Land-Grant Institutions Celebrate 130 Years


EAST GREENSBORO (Aug. 31, 2020) – This year, land-grant institutions, including North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, will celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Morrill Act of 1890, which established a land-grant university system of HBCUs in states where African Americans were banned from accessing a public higher education.

Higher education leaders, elected officials and policymakers, business and community leaders will join in an online celebration of the 1890 land-grant universities anniversary, culminating with a two-hour online forum Monday, Aug. 31, from 1 to 3 p.m. EDT that will explore the history and accomplishments of these institutions and the important role they play in the nation’s future. Registration for the forum is open to all here.

The forum will have two panel discussions. One panel will feature Makola Abdullah, president of Virginia State University; Heidi Anderson, president of University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Paul Jones, president of Fort Valley State University; and Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

The second panel will feature private sector leaders such as Fred Humphries, corporate vice president at Microsoft; Kellie Adesina, director of Federal Government Affairs at Bayer Crop Science; Karis Gutter, manager of U.S. Government and Industry at Corteva Agriscience; Demetha Sanders, global head of Inclusion and Talent Management at Cargill; and Phillip Thomas-Wallace, director of U.S. Federal Government Affairs at Walmart.

After 130 years, 19 universities designated as 1890 land-grant universities continue to work together to provide essential research, education, and Extension/public outreach that both sustains U.S. food, fiber and renewable fuel production and addresses the challenges of our time at local, regional, national and global levels. The 1890 land-grant universities have a legacy helping to fill a crucial need of educating first-generation and economically disadvantaged college students; enhancing the resilience of limited-resource farmers, families, individuals, and underserved communities; and pioneering the most advanced education, research, and engagement programs to improve quality of life. With very little investment, the 1890s educate nearly 100,000 students annually, contribute more than $4.4 billion to local economies, and provide pathways of opportunity for thousands of Americans. 

The land-grant philosophy is even more relevant today, given the dynamic complexity of the socioeconomic environment where an integrated, iterative systems approach provides the best likelihood of generating solutions that are responsive to the complex dynamism of our environment. The 1890 land-grant universities are a perfect platform for addressing the three interlocking disparities of education, health and economic prosperity made more evident by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking ahead, the 1890 institutions plan to focus on these disparities while continuing to play a foundational role in the higher education system and in providing access and enhancing opportunities for all citizens.