Award to UA, Others Marks Morrill Act 150th Anniversary

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The World Food Prize Foundation has awarded its Borlaug Medallion to the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, an organization that includes the University of Arizona.

Nationwide, there are 106 land-grant universities, including at least one in every state. The UA was the first land-grant university in Arizona. Diné College on the Navajo Nation and Tohono O'odham Community College on the Tohono O'odham Nation were designated as land-grant institutions in 1994.

The award was presented on June 26 during a ceremony in Washington D.C. celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862.

Written by Sen. Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont and signed into law on July 2, 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln, the legislation provided grants of federal lands to the states for the establishment of public universities and agricultural education programs nationwide and led to the democratization of higher education.

"For the first time, higher education would not be limited to the wealthy and political elite. In addition, the U.S. created the foundation for a national system to specifically drive knowledge creation and the extension of this knowledge into the economy," said Shane Burgess, dean and vice provost, UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

"Taken all together the creation of the land-grant universities has been an essential component of U.S. economic prosperity and sustainability."

Although Arizona was still a territory when the act was signed, in 1864 its First Territorial Legislature authorized a University of Arizona and wrote its constitution. Further legislation 21 years later actually secured the land-grants and formally established the University.

Read the rest of this July 2 UANews article at the link below.

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