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.