Athens, Ga. – University of Georgia President Michael F. Adams will join a panel of university presidents from across the nation to discuss the history of the Morrill Act June 25 at 9 a.m. in Washington, D.C.
The talk will take place during the summer meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ Council of Presidents and is jointly sponsored by the APLU and the Library of Congress.
The five panelists slated to speak are Adams; Lou Anna Simon, president of Michigan State University; Edward Ray, president of Oregon State University; Mary Sias, president of Kentucky State University; and David Yarlott, president of Little Big Horn College. The panelists were invited by APLU President Peter McPherson to discuss how the Morrill Act has impacted various regions of the country; Adams was chosen from among the Southern land-grant university presidents to comment on the act’s impact in the South.
“The Morrill Act, in my mind, is the second in a pair of documents that revolutionized American higher education by positing the radical idea that there is a public benefit to higher education that extends well beyond the good that inures to the recipient of the degree,” Adams said. “The first was the charter for the University of Georgia, the first public charter in this nation.”
On July 2, 1862, the Morrill Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. The act established land-grant institutions in the U.S. by giving states 30,000 acres of federal land for each member of their Congressional delegation. The land was then sold and “the proceeds used to fund public colleges that focused on agriculture and the mechanical arts,” according to the Library of Congress. These land grants funded 69 colleges, included the University of Georgia.
During the discussion, each panel member will share a part about the land-grant history, and individual presidents will be invited to add stories about their own institutions.