What are land-grant universities?

Are there land grants in Michigan?

The history of land grant colleges began in the mid-ninetenth century with Jonathan Baldwin Turner who was a Yale graduate, a farmer, college professor, and a newspaper editor. Jonathan felt it was important for the middle class and working people to have access to practical education. The structure that Jonathan envisioned included a public institution where practical techniques of agriculture and concerns of life would be taught to all interested. Since America is based on democratic values, public institutions ought to be funded by the federal government. Initially there wasn’t much support for his new idea until two groups began to show support for Turner; Buel Institute and the Illinois Industrial League. Following many years of discussion and meetings with local farmers and political groups, on Dec. 16, 1861 Justin Morrill, a Congressman from Vermont introduced House Bills No.2 to establish a land grant college system. On July 2, 1862 the bill was passed and established the Morrill Act of 1862. The Morrill Act of 1862 provided each state with 30,000 acres of federal land which then was sold in order to use those funds to establish public colleges. However, “prior to the Morrill Act, Michigan State was chartered under Michigan State law as a state land grant institution, receiving an appropriation of 14,000 acres of state-owned land to fund its creation. Michigan State was subsequently designated as the federal land-grant college for Michigan in 1863. Following the Morrill Act, the second piece of legislation was passed; Morrill Act of 1890 which established land-grant institutions for, “former slaves as they were unable to gain entrance to colleges and universities for Whites”. It wasn’t until 1968 that the Navajo Nation established the first tribal college. 133 years later, congress authorized the Equity in Educational Land-Grant Status Act of 1994. As a result of this piece of legislation, three Tribal Colleges have been established in Michigan:

Each tribal college coordinates certificate programs, expands educational opportunities, and promotes cultural programming at affordable rates for community members. They offer a wide variety of educational opportunities such as Native American Studies, Liberal Arts, Business, Associate Degree programs in Construction Technology, Office Administration, Early Childhood Education, Social Science, and Certificate programs in Health Science, Medical Office, and Natural Science. The tribal colleges are accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. To learn more about these schools read the artcile Michigan Tribal colleges and more by Michigan State Univeristy Extension.

To learn more about Government and Public Policy programs offered through Michigan State University Extension please contact me, Tribal Extension educator with questions or comments at (231)-439-8927 or proctor8@anr.msu.edu. 

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