Cooperative Extension Services and the 21st Century Land-Grant Mission

Ohio State University professor Stephen M. Gavazzi and West Virginia University president E. Gordon Gee recently co-authored “Land-Grant Universities for the Future: Higher Education for the Public Good.” The book, published in November 2018 by Johns Hopkins University Press, is based largely on interviews they had conducted with 27 presidents and chancellors of land-grant universities, some of the largest and best universities in America.

Land-grant universities were established by the Morrill Act in 1862 and part of their mission is to make the knowledge of the university accessible to their communities. This critical work is championed by Cooperative Extension divisions, who offer an array of services designed to educate and inform citizens across their respective states.

These authors sat down with colleagues from their respective universities—Roger Rennekamp at Ohio State and Steve Bonanno at West Virginia—to discuss the evolving impact of cooperative extension services on the 21st-century mission of our nation’s public land-grant universities.

Cooperative Extension Services and the 21st Century Land-Grant Mission



Pennsylvania’s 1862 Land-Grant Institution: Penn State University @Penn_State

Founded in 1855 as The Farmer’s High School of Pennsylvania. In 1862, the school’s name was changed to the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania, and with the passage of the Morrill Land-Grant Act, Pennsylvania selected the school in 1863 to be the state’s sole land-grant college. The school’s name changed to the Pennsylvania State College in 1874. In 1953, President Milton S. Eisenhower, brother of then-U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, won permission to elevate the school to university status as The Pennsylvania State University. In 1967, the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, a college of medicine and hospital, was established in Hershey with a $50 million gift from the Hershey Trust Company.

President: Eric Barron became president of the Pennsylvania State University in 2014 following his presidency at Florida State University. Dr. Barron’s land-grant credentials include his having been both a faculty member and the Dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State from 1986 to 2006.


Oregon’s 1862 Land-Grant Institution: Oregon State University @OregonState

Founded in 1868 as the Corvallis State Agricultural College, although its earlier roots include ties to the Corvallis Academy (founded in 1856) and Corvallis College (founded in 1858). The school experienced several additional renaming events, including Oregon State Agricultural College (1882), State Agricultural College of Oregon (1886), Oregon Agricultural College (1890), Oregon State Agricultural College (1927), Oregon State College (1937), and then finally Oregon State University in 1961.

President: Ed Ray became president of Oregon State University in 2003. Prior to his presidency, Dr. Ray held various positions at The Ohio State University, including stints as provost (1998-2003), associate provost (1992-1993), economics department chair (1976-1992), and regular faculty member (1970-1976).




OKLAHOMA’S LAND-GRANT INSTITUTIONS: Oklahoma State University, Langston University, College of the Muscogee Nation

Oklahoma’s 1862 Land-Grant Institution: Oklahoma State University @okstate

Founded in 1890 as the Oklahoma Territorial Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) College. Upon statehood in 1907, “Territorial” was dropped from its title. In 1957, the school changed its name to Oklahoma State University of Agricultural and Applied Sciences.  In 1980, “Agricultural & Applied Sciences” was formally dropped, and the Oklahoma State University System was created. The Stillwater campus was designated as the flagship institution alongside branches including OSU-Institute of Technology in Okmulgee , OSU-Oklahoma City,  OSU-Tulsa (1984), and the Center for Health Sciences (also in Tulsa).

President: V. Burns Hargis became the president of Oklahoma State University in 2008. The land-grant background of President Hargis includes his having received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Oklahoma State. @burnshargis



Oklahoma’s 1890 Land-Grant Institution: Langston University  @LangstonU

Founded in 1897 as the Oklahoma Colored Agricultural and Normal University. In 1941, the school was renamed Langston University in honor of civil rights pioneer John Mercer Langston.

President: Kent J. Smith, Jr. became the president of Langston University in 2012. President Smith’s land-grant credentials include his having been the dean of students at the land-grant institution Auburn University, the assistant director of black student services at the land-grant institution Colorado State University (where he also received his doctorate in education and human resources studies), and both a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s degree in education administration and supervision from the land-grant institution Southern University and A&M College. @LUPrez16



Oklahoma’s 1994 Land-Grant Institution: College of the Muscogee Nation

Established in 2004 by an act of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Council. In 2009, Muscogee (Creek) citizens voted in support of the College of the Muscogee Nation becoming a constitutional college. The college is a member of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, and was designated as a 1994 Land-Grant institution in the 2014 Farm Bill.

President: The president of the College of the Muscogee Nation is Robert Bible.





OHIO’S LAND-GRANT INSTITUTIONS: The Ohio State University and Central State University

Ohio’s 1862 Land-Grant Institution: The Ohio State University @OhioState

Founded in 1870 as the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. In 1878, the Ohio legislature changed the school’s name to “The Ohio State University,” with “The” as part of its official title.

President: Michael V. Drake, MD was named president of The Ohio State University in 2014. President Drake is the first medical doctor and the first African American to lead this land-grant university. Previously, Dr. Drake served as chancellor of the University of California, Irvine campus and as the vice president for health affairs for the University of California system. @OSUPrezDrake

 Ohio’s 1890 Land-Grant Institution: Central State University @CentralState87

Founded in 1897 as a two-year normal and industrial department funded by the state of Ohio but located within Wilberforce University, a private HBCU owned and operated by the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1941, the department adopted curriculum that expanded its offerings as a four-year program emphasizing teacher education. In 1947, the department was separated from Wilberforce University, and in 1951 was renamed as Central State College. In 1965, it was renamed Central State University. In 2014, Central State was designated an 1890 land-grant institution by the federal government.

President: Cynthia Jackson Hammond was named president of Central State University in 2012. President Jackson Hammond is a product of the HBCU system, including having received both her doctoral degree in education and her undergraduate degree from Grambling State University. @CSUPrezHammond




Ohio State Research News: What is the Future of Land-Grant Universities?

When land-grant universities were founded in the mid-19th century, the United States was much different than it is today. What do such institutions need to do to survive and thrive in our very different world?

To answer that question, Stephen Gavazzi and E. Gordon Gee interviewed 27 presidents and chancellors of land-grant universities. Their findings appear in the new book Land-Grant Universities for the Future.

Gee, a former president at The Ohio State University, is now president at West Virginia University. Gavazzi is a professor of human development and family science at Ohio State.

Ohio State News sat down with Gavazzi to discuss some of the major themes of the book. The conversation has been edited for space and clarity.

You can find the Q&A here.

National Review Publishes Land-Grant Book Review

National Review published a book review of Land-Grant Universities of the Future here.

An excerpt:

Gavazzi and Gee are also keen to note what they call the United States’ “capital/country divide.” By “capital” they mean major U.S. cities such as New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and the like. By “country” they mean, well, most of the rest of the nation. The values espoused by the residents of each region — secular, progressive, and cosmopolitan in the former case; religious, conservative, and nationalist in the latter — are diverging from each other with dizzying rapidity. Land-grant universities, argue Gavazzi and Gee, must make greater efforts to appeal to both constituencies so that divisions in the social fabric can more easily heal.

-Christian Alejandro Gonzalez

What Public Universities Must Do To Regain Public Support

The article “What Public Universities Must Do To Regain Public Support” has just been published by The Conversation here.

An excerpt:

Evidence from opinion polls such as the Gallup survey and the Pew Research Trust survey indicates the clear and present danger that complacency poses to the nation’s support for its public universities. Presidents and chancellors who ignore the public’s demands for change at their universities – to become more efficient, value great teaching, conduct research that solves real-life problems, be more affordable and accessible to the widest range of students – do so at their own peril.