ALASKA’S LAND-GRANTS: University of Alaska Fairbanks and Iḷisaġvik College


Alaska’s 1862 Land-Grant Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks  @uafairbanks

In 1917, the Alaska Territorial Legislature formally established the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines. Located in Fairbanks, the institution was renamed the University of Alaska in 1935. In 1975, the University of Alaska system was created. As a result, it has expanded to nineteen campuses between three separately accredited universities.

Chancellor: Daniel M. White has served as University of Alaska Fairbanks chancellor since July 2017. He joined the faculty of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in 1995 as a professor of civil and environmental engineering.



Alaska’s 1994 Land-Grant Institution: Iḷisaġvik College  @Ilisagvik

This two-year community college was founded in 1986, when the North Slope Borough created the North Slope Higher Education Center. In 1991, its name was changed to the Arctic Sivunmun Iḷisaġvik College. In 1995, the Borough passed an ordinance incorporating Iḷisaġvik College as a public and independent non-profit corporation. Iḷisaġvik College was the lead institution in the 1997 creation of the Consortium for Alaska Native Higher Education.

President: Pearl Kiyawn Nageak Brower has served as President since 2012. She has four degrees from the land-grant institution of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks: B.A. Anthropology and B.A. Alaska Native Studies, Masters in Alaska Native and Rural Development, and Ph.D. in Indigenous Studies.


ALABAMA’S LAND-GRANTS: Auburn, Alabama A&M, and Tuskegee

Alabama’s 1862 Land-Grant Institution: Auburn University @AuburnU

Auburn University was established in 1856 as the East Alabama Male College, 20 years after the city of Auburn’s founding. In 1872, under the Morrill Act, the school became the first land-grant college in the South and was renamed the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama. In 1899 the name again was changed, to the Alabama Polytechnic Institute. Finally, in 1960 the name of the school was changed to Auburn University.

President: Steven Leath. He holds three degrees from land-grant institutions: a B.S. in plant science from Pennsylvania State University, M.S. in plant science from the University of Delaware and Ph.D. in plant pathology from the University of Illinois. @AuburnPrez


Alabama’s 1890 Land-Grant Institutions: Alabama A&M University and Tuskegee University


Alabama A&M University @aamuedu

Opened in 1875 as the Huntsville Normal School in downtown Huntsville, and shortly thereafter became the State Normal and Industrial School at Huntsville. Following its designation as an 1890 land-grant institution, the school’s name was changed to The State Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes. In 1919 it became a junior college and was renamed The State Agricultural and Mechanical Institute for Negroes. It was then renamed the Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1948 before it finally became Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University in 1969.

President: Andrew Hugine, Jr. He holds three degrees from land-grant institutions: bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from South Carolina State University and a doctorate in Higher Education/Institutional Research from Michigan State University. @AndrewHugineJr


Tuskegee University @TuskegeeUniv

Opened in 1881 as the Tuskegee Normal School for Colored Teachers. Booker T. Washington was the school’s first faculty member and leader, who remained president until his death in 1915. In 1896, George Washington Carver was recruited to serve on the faculty as chair of the agricultural department. The school was renamed the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute when it was granted independence from the state by the Alabama Legislature in 1892. As a direct result of the second Morrill Act, the school achieved its land-grant status in 1899. In 1985, the school changed its name to Tuskegee University.

President: Tuskegee University has named Lily D. McNair as its next president. Currently the Provost at Wagner College (@WagnerProvost), she previously held a position at the land-grant institution of the University of Georgia. Dr. McNair, who will begin her duties at Tuskegee on July 1, 2018, is the first woman president of Tuskegee in its 137-year history.

America’s Land-Grant Universities: Who Are They? Where Are They?

The public higher education system of the United States was founded during the American Civil War. The mission given to our nation’s first public universities – the land-grant institutions, so termed because the 1862 Morrill Act granted federal land to states as the mechanism to fund higher education – was to bring science, technology, and the arts to the American people. These land-grant universities have been, and continue to be, the engines of our nation’s public higher education system.

Regrettably, both the history and contemporary value of our land-grant institutions seems largely to have been neglected. Ask someone on the street what a land-grant university is, and chances are that individual will not be able to provide you with a coherent answer. Even more disconcerting, however, is the possibility that students, faculty, and alumni from land-grant universities themselves might not offer much more in the way of an articulate response.

Who are America’s land-grant universities, and where are located? The original land-grant institutions founded as the result of the 1862 Morrill Act include such prominent names as Cornell, MIT, Penn State, Rutgers, Ohio State, Texas A&M, West Virginia, and the University of California—four dozen of the largest and best public universities in America. Add to this a significant number of historically black colleges and universities and tribal colleges—in all, almost 300 institutions.

West Virginia President E. Gordon Gee and I are in countdown mode regarding the publication of our new book – Land-Grant Universities for the Future: Higher Education for the Public Good – set for release about 6 months from now by Johns Hopkins University Press. In anticipation, over these next 25 weeks or so I plan on covering various aspects of the land-grant universities in our 50 states*. That’s 2 state’s worth of land-grant institutions per week! I will start with Alabama and Alaska next week, and plan on finishing with Wisconsin and Wyoming by early November. By the end of this exercise, my hope is that readers will gain a brief yet insightful glimpse into the tremendous reach of these outstanding American land-grant universities.

*  Yes, there are additional land-grant institutions located across the U.S. territories. I will be giving them special treatment during the winter holidays!

Land-Grant Universities: The Engine of American Higher Education

“I would have learning more widely disseminated,” said Justin S. Morrill, the Vermont legislator and author of the land-grant movement.

We have disseminated it.

Our institutions should be “the public’s universities,” in the words of Abraham Lincoln, one of the fathers of public higher education. They have been.

The ideals of Morrill and Lincoln beckon us still.

–Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities

The writings on this site will be passionate–nay, zealous–about public higher education. And the contributions will radically adhere to the idea that land-grant universities–based as they are on the ideals put forward by Senator Justin Morrill, President Abraham Lincoln, and the other social and political giants of their time–continue to set the bar for performance excellence in the realm of public higher education. Thus, you might say, the offerings here will be fiercely land-grant in orientation.