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Land Grant Universities and the Community
Stephen M. Gavazzi, co-author of the book Land-Grant Universities for the Future: Higher Education for the Public Good, writes an article to describe the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of land grant universities in the current day.
Land grant universities are the result of a law signed in 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln, who "granted federal land to states to support the development of America's first public universities."
"Land-grant institutions that were created include such prominent ones as Cornell, Maryland, Michigan State, MIT, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, Texas A&M, West Virginia University, Wisconsin and the University of California -- four dozen of America's largest and best public universities. Add to this historically black colleges and universities and tribal colleges, and the total comes to more than 110 institutions."
According to Gavazzi, land grant universities have a mixed record in recent years with regard with their specific aim to serve their communities. Some universities are guilty of a "mission drift," to use Gavazzi's term, away from community-serving work, which has resulted in less public support for higher education.
There are other newer initiatives that "seem to be bringing communities back into the viewfinders of many land-grant and other public universities."
"One sterling example is the Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Program, hosted by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. This initiative assists universities in documenting and amplifying their ability to support economic and community development through meaningful, ongoing campus-community partnerships," according to Gavazzi.