On August 29, we had a large turnout of people for the rededication of Agriculture Hall as the Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture. As I wrote in a previous Spotlight, the original Morrill Hall (named “Women’s Dormitory” when first built, and named Morrill Hall only in 1937) was recently torn down due to its deteriorating condition.
The renaming allows the name of Morrill to continue to be honored. Justin Smith Morrill was a U.S. Representative and then Senator who sponsored the Morrill Act, commonly known as the Land Grant Act, which established federal funding for public colleges and universities. Senator Morrill had a vision of providing education to working class families. Michigan State University is the pioneer land-grant institution, becoming a land-grant institution shortly after President Lincoln signed the act into law in 1862. You can view a replica of the act on display in the Kellogg Center on campus.
The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 expanded the Morrill Act, creating a system in which the land-grant universities oversee our nationwide Extension system. Therefore, we are indebted to Justin Morrill for both the university and our MSU Extension organization.
MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon spoke to the crowd of about 150 that included current and former faculty and staff members and graduates of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR). Included were about 40 members of the Morrill family who each received a brick of the original Morrill Hall engraved with the date of the dedication ceremony of the Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture. Several lucky attendees won a raffle to receive commemorative bricks.
President Simon, CANR Dean Fred Poston and members of the Morrill family took part in an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.
If you walk past the original Morrill Hall site, you can’t help being surprised by the empty space where once stood a stately structure. President Simon announced that MSU will complete the construction of a plaza on the site, and the plaza will be named Morrill Plaza.
Read more here.