Monday, July 16, 2012
That's a law named for Senator Justin Morrill of Strafford, Vermont that established a system of public colleges and universities devoted to engineering and agriculture. Those schools today enroll nearly five million students.
Higher education officials are celebrating the anniversary of the landmark legislation by examining issues facing universities today.
The 1862 law was one of the country's most forward thinking acts because it led to big changes in higher education.
"In some ways you can argue it actually was one of the first acts of civil freedom and access, because up until that time education was pretty much the preserve of white male landed individuals - those with resources," John Bramley of the University of Vermont said.
The law Morrill wrote was designed to shift America's education focus from the classics and religion. It was intended to connect agricultural and engineering research to benefit the state. But Bramley says the act's vision of broader access to higher education is at risk today.
"More and more students and families are struggling to attend college," Bramley said. "More and more students are coming out of college with significant debt. Some are even questioning the investment in college, so I think that whole access piece starts to come under threat again."
Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical, now Ohio State University became Ohio's land-grant university in 1870. Today, land-grant institutions award about a third of all bachelor's degrees and 60 percent of doctorates in the U.S.
This important piece of legislation changed my life for the good and many before me and will many after. Land Grant College and University teaching, Extended to rural communities and Researched at places like OARDC greatly enhanced education in Ohio and across America.