Tag Archives: justin morrill

If the name fits …

If you work on campus or have visited lately, you may have seen workers busy tearing down Morrill Hall on West Circle Drive. I’ve heard a variety of reactions to the process, from those who wax nostalgic about the passing of an era to those who see it as the removal of an embarrassing eyesore. I thought this reflective piece by Lindsay VanHulle in the Lansing State Journal captured the mixed feelings particularly well and from an alumna’s perspective.

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition, East Lansing, Mich., June 10, 2013. Photo credit: Amanda Mitchell, ANR Communications.

Even though the building that originally served as a women’s residence hall will be gone, the name of Morrill will continue to be honored. In April, the Michigan State University Board of Trustees voted to rename our own Agriculture Hall the Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture.

Justin Smith Morrill was a U.S. representative and U.S. senator from Vermont from the 1850s to the 1890s. We remember him most for the Morrill Act, commonly known as the Land Grant Act, which established federal funding for public colleges and universities. President Abraham Lincoln signed the act into law on July 2, 1862. You can find a replica of the original act framed on the wall outside the auditorium at the MSU Kellogg Center.

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition, East Lansing, Mich., June 10, 2013. Photo credit: Amanda Mitchell, ANR Communications.

Senator Morrill’s vision of an institution of higher education dedicated to the sons (and daughters) of working class families, one that made the most recent advances in science available to farmers, families and laborers who could put those advances to work, sounded a great deal like the vision that created Michigan Agricultural College seven years earlier in East Lansing, Michigan. For that reason, we consider MSU as the “pioneer” land-grant institution, and it became Michigan’s land-grant institution shortly after President Lincoln signed the legislation.

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition, East Lansing, Mich., June 11, 2013. Photo credit: Amanda Mitchell, ANR Communications.

Today, two more institutions in the state are part of the land-grant system, including Bay Mills Community College and Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College, each established by their respective tribal sponsors, and incorporated into the land-grant system through a 1994 amendment to the Morrill Act.

The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 expanded the Morrill Act, creating a nationwide Extension system overseen by the land-grant universities. Thus, the new name fits the Extension mission well. I know other Extension professionals across the country will recognize the connection between MSU Extension and Senator Morrill when they see my address.

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition, East Lansing, Mich., June 12, 2013. Photo credit: Amanda Mitchell, ANR Communications.

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean Fred Poston asks that we begin using the new building name immediately in all communications. However, you may continue to use any existing hard copy business cards, letterhead, stationery or envelopes with the current Agriculture Hall address until April 30, 2014.

A dedication will take place August 29 in the Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture atrium.

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition

Michigan State University Morrill Hall demolition, East Lansing, Mich., June 12, 2013. Photo credit: Amanda Mitchell, ANR Communications.

 

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Happy Birthday to us: The 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act

By Kurt Schindler

This week I’d like to welcome guest author Kurt Schindler, Michigan State University Extension land use educator. Please read our colleague’s reflections on the Morrill Act below:

On July 2, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act into law, creating a national network of colleges and universities meant to serve the higher education needs of farmers and laborers across the nation. This radical investment was also meant to foster economic development by stimulating the transfer of knowledge from research into practice on farms, in factories and in families (agriculture, home economics, public policy/government, leadership, 4-H, economic development, natural resources, coastal issues and many other related subjects). The uniquely American aspect of the act was the direct investment of resources into the creation of these institutions by grants from the U.S. government. And those grants came in the form of publicly owned land that was turned over to the state government, which in turn could use that land grant to house the university, to sell for capital to use in building the university or both. From that unique concept came the common name for this act and the institutions it helped to support: the Land Grant Act and land-grant colleges and universities. Michigan State University is Michigan’s land-grant institution, which is why Extension in Michigan is part of MSU, and why Extension provides service to Michigan residents.

We at Michigan State University like to point out MSU was the first land-grant university to be formed (although Penn State wrongly also makes that claim). (Hey, we are supposed to have this particular bias.)

The Morrill Act was expanded with the passage of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which created a nationwide Extension system and directed the nation’s land-grant universities to oversee its work. This resulted in an Extension office in virtually every county in the United States. MSU Extension work began before the system was officially organized (and one might say the idea of Extension was copied from the idea born in Michigan). Michigan State College (now MSU) hired its first livestock field agent in 1907. In 1912, the Michigan Legislature authorized county boards of supervisors (now county commissioners) to appropriate funds and levy taxes to further teaching and demonstrations in Extension work. Eleven agricultural agents were named that year. Today, Extension is still funded through Smith-Lever federal funds, state matching funds, county funding, grants, contracts and fees for service. That three-way partnership, federal-state-county, is still a vitally important cooperative effort.

With the passage of the Smith-Lever Act, the first statewide home economics and 4-H youth Extension workers were appointed in Michigan; county home economics agents were appointed beginning in 1915. In the early years of Extension, “demonstration agents” showed or demonstrated new farming or homemaking techniques. Today, Extension agents use a wide variety of information systems to deliver educational information.

The land-grant and Extension idea worked. Many other countries copied the popular concept with India now supporting the largest Extension-like system in the world.

It is inspiring to be part of a vision that was created 150 years ago and that is still alive, transforming and improving to meet today’s needs. It’s hard to imagine what President Lincoln’s or Vermont Senator Justin Morrill‘s expectations may have been back in 1862. And it’s just as hard to anticipate how our organization and our mission may change and how it may remain the same 150 years into the future.

To view a copy of the Morrill Act and to find out more about it, visit the following websites:

Copy of the Morrill Act: http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=33&page=transcript

Ten-minute video posted on the home page of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU): http://www.aplu.org/page.aspx?pid=2190

Exhibits and information associated with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which will feature the anniversary of the Morrill Act on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., June 27–July 1 and July 4–8, 2012: http://www.festival.si.edu/2012/campus_and_community/

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Morrill Act, 150 years later

On July 2, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act into law, creating a national network of colleges and universities that were meant to serve the higher education needs of farmers and laborers across the nation. This radical investment was also meant to foster economic development by stimulating the transfer of knowledge from research into practice on farms, in factories and in families. The uniquely American aspect of the act was the direct investment of resources into the creation of these institutions by grants from the U.S. government. And those grants came in the form of publicly owned land that was turned over to the state government, which in turn could use that land grant to house the university, to sell for capital to use in building the university or both. From that unique concept came the common name for this act and the institutions it helped to support: the Land Grant Act and land-grant colleges and universities.

On July 2, 2012, we will celebrate the sesquicentennial of President Lincoln’s historic endorsement, and given the spirit of the time (it’s only two days before July 4), I thought it would be fun to take some time during our biweekly Michigan State University Extension Update Webinar that day to share reflections about what the Land Grant Act meant and what it means today. From within our staff and among the stakeholders we serve, there are many differing expectations of what it means to be a land-grant university and how we realize those expectations. I think we would all benefit by hearing some of those ideas. We’ll foster dialogue and sharing of these perspectives in several ways.

First, you may want to do some research on the Morrill Act. You can read the actual wording of the law here. You can hear other perspectives on what land grant means today through a 10-minute video posted on the home page of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) here. And you may want to explore some of the exhibits and information associated with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which will feature the anniversary of the Morrill Act on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., June 27–July 1 and July 4–8.

Second, we have opened a discussion forum on the SharePoint site for MSUE All Staff where you can share your reflections on the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act.

Third, we will have time for sharing via chat pods during our July 2 MSUE Update Webinar. If you would like to share your thoughts with your colleagues on the webinar verbally, please let me know and we’ll arrange access for up to five individuals to speak on the webinar and share their perspectives with the rest of us.

It’s inspiring to be part of a vision that was created 150 years ago and that is still alive, transforming and improving to meet today’s needs. It’s hard to imagine what President Lincoln’s or Vermont Senator Justin Morrill’s expectations may have been back in 1862. And it’s just as hard to anticipate how our organization and our mission may change and how it may remain the same 150 years into the future.

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Celebrate the Morrill Act

It’s been 150 years since Abraham Lincoln singed the Morrill Act. Named after its sponsor, Rep. Justin Morrill, the act granted federally controlled land to states for development or sale to raise funds to establish and endow land-grant colleges. Michigan Agricultural College, established in 1855 and a model for the act, was designated as the federal land-grant college for Michigan in 1863. Part of the land-grant mission is to find practical applications for scientific research and technological innovations. Today, we in MSU Extension use a wide variety of information systems to deliver education information, helping people improve their lives and helping grow Michigan’s economy. We have a lot to celebrate!

 A Morrill Act Sesquicentennial celebration takes place today from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Rock on Farm Lane. The Rock will display a painted image of Abraham Lincoln. Enjoy a special MSU Dairy Store ice cream flavor created for the occasion, Morrill Mint Madness, and receive a free Justin Morrill T-shirt. I’m told that Rep. Morrill and President Lincoln will be there.

 Find out more about the Morrill Act Sesquicentennial here.

 If you miss today’s event, you might want to check out these other events.

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