What is Land-Grant? | West Virginia State University

WHAT IS LAND-GRANT?

The Gus R. Douglass Land-Grant Institute (GRDI) is home to WVSU's land-grant administrative area. GRDI is named in honor of Gus Douglass, who served as the State Commissioner of Agriculture for over four decades.

You’ve probably heard WVSU referred to as a “land-grant university,” but what does that mean? In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the first Morrill Act, which “granted land” to states for the purpose of establishing institutions of higher education that focused on teaching military tactics, engineering and agriculture. West Virginia University, our state's only other land-grant institution, was established under the Morrill Act.
 
Then, in 1890, a second Morrill Act was passed. This one focused on providing educational opportunities specifically to African-American citizens and established WVSU, then called the West Virginia Colored Institute. (Another act was passed in 1994 that targeted Native American institutions.) Other important Congressional acts followed, like the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which established the cooperative extension system.
 
So that’s how WVSU was established as a land-grant university. The historical term has stuck and continues to be an integral part of the mission of WVSU. Today, we fulfill the land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension in a variety of ways, which you can learn about by exploring our website. GRDI consists of the following entities: Agricultural and Environmental Research StationWest Virginia State University Extension Service, and the Center for the Advancement of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics.

For more on what it means to be an 1890 Land-Grant University, check out this video, produced in conjunction with the Association of Research Directors and the 125th anniversary of the Second Morrill Act.
 

CONTACT

Orlando F. McMeans, Ph.D.
131 Ferrell Hall
(304) 204-4300
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