Penn State conference to discuss future of land-grant universities

University Park, Pa. -- Although state support is decreasing for land-grant institutions such as Penn State, these public universities still are committed to sharing knowledge and expertise with the people of their states through extension and outreach programs.

In Pennsylvania, the legislature is considering a partial restoration of the large cut in appropriations to public universities recommended by the governor in March. This uncertain situation is prompting Penn State, and other land-grant universities across the nation, to re-evaluate the outreach services they provide as part of their land-grant mission, in addition to teaching and research.

That's just one of the many issues that will be discussed when Penn State hosts a scholarly conference, "The Legacy and the Promise: 150 years of Land-Grant Universities," June 22-24, at The Nittany Lion Inn on the University Park campus.

Scholars and leaders from many of the country's land-grant institutions will gather to talk about the history of these universities as well as the best ways they can move forward in the face of declining state funding.

The conference will also honor -- a year ahead of time -- the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Morrill Land-Grant College Act signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on July 2, 1862. Introduced by Sen. Justin Morrill of Vermont, the legislation sought to promote collegiate education to the working class in the practical fields of agriculture and the mechanic arts (engineering) in addition to the liberal arts and military training. It did so by awarding vast tracts of public land in the western territories to existing states. The states, in turn, were charged with selling the land and using the proceeds to establish and endow the new land-grant colleges.

The conference is being supported by a number of Penn State entities: The Office of the Provost, the Penn State Alumni Association, the Center for the Study of Higher Education, the Higher Education Program, the College of Education, the College of Agricultural Sciences, and Penn State Outreach.

For more information on the conference or to see an agenda, go to online.

Penn State Conferences plans and manages more than 300 programs each year, with enrollments of nearly 45,000. Conferences is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 114 countries worldwide.

Last Updated June 15, 2011