About APLU

History of APLU

Founded in 1887, APLU is North America’s oldest higher education association with member institutions in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, Canada, and Mexico.

1862—First Morrill Act is passed, establishing land-grant colleges by providing federal lands to the states to be sold to support colleges of agriculture and mechanical arts.

1871—Representatives from 29 land-grant institutions meet in Chicago to discuss common issues; the gathering urges the establishment of agricultural experiment stations.

1872—The U.S. Commissioner of Agriculture convenes a meeting of agricultural colleges, societies and others; the group discusses additional land-grants, experiment stations, and military training.

1877, 1882, 1883—“Unofficial” gatherings of land-grant leaders are held.

1885—Colleges of agriculture representatives meet in Washington, D.C. with representatives of the Department of Agriculture. The group agrees to create a formal association and hold annual conventions.

1887—The Hatch Act is passed, mandating the creation of agricultural experiment stations for scientific research.

1887—The first annual convention of the Association of American Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations is held in Washington, D.C. George W. Atherton, president of Pennsylvania State University, is elected president, and membership is limited to colleges receiving benefits under the 1862 Morrill Act and the 1887 Hatch Act. The association begins work in support of the second Morrill Act.

University of Maryland Eastern Shore1890—The Second Morrill Act is passed, providing further endowment for colleges. Part of the funding is to be used for institutions for black students, leading to the creation of 17 (19 currently) historically black land-grant colleges.

1896—The National Association of State Universities is founded, representing “major” state universities, including land-grant colleges.

1912—Deans of engineering organize the Land-Grant College Engineering Association.

1914—The Smith-Lever Act is passed, providing federal support for land-grant institutions to offer instruction beyond their campuses through Cooperative Extension efforts in agriculture and home economics.

1919—The Land-Grant College Engineering Association and the Association of American Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations merge to form the American Association of Land-Grant Colleges.

1920—A home economics section is added to the American Association of Land-Grant Colleges.

1926— The association’s name is changed to the Association of Land-Grant Colleges and Universities.

1939—Graduate studies are added to the association’s agenda.

1945—A liberal arts component is added to the association.

1945—Russell I. Thackery is named the first full-time salaried executive secretary of the association and its headquarters is located permanently in Washington, D.C.

1948—The veterinary medicine division is added to the association.

1950—The Council of General Extension is added to the association.

1954—The historically black land-grant institutions join the association.

1954—The association’s name is changed to the American Association of Land-Grant Colleges and State Universities, in anticipation of a merger with the National Association of State Universities and the State Universities Association (non-land-grant state universities).

1963—The completed merger formally creates the National Association of State Universities and Land-grant Colleges (NASULGC), which undergoes major changes in structure and governance.

1966—The National Sea Grant College Act is passed with a mission of research, teaching and education in marine and coastal sciences. Many of the sea-grant colleges are established at land-grant universities.

1969—Russell I. Thackery retires and is succeeded by Ralph K. Huitt as executive director of the association.

1979—Ralph K. Huitt retires and is succeeded by Robert L. Clodius, who is designated president.

1987—NASULGC’s Centennial is celebrated.

1987—The Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund is established, supporting scholarships at the historically black public colleges and universities.

1990—A Charter for the Nineties and Beyond, a year-long study of the association, is completed and approved in principle by its Senate.

1992—Robert L. Clodius retires and C. Peter Magrath becomes NASULGC’s president, and new bylaws are adopted that streamline the association’s structure.

1995—The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), representing the nation’s land-grant Native American colleges, becomes a member of NASULGC as a system.

1998—NASULGC purchases a building jointly with three other higher education associations and moves to new offices located at 1307 New York Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005.

2005—C. Peter Magrath retires as president; M. Peter McPherson is appointed president.

2009—The association adopts a new name on March 30: Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).

2012The Sesquicentennial Anniversary of the Morrill Act of 1862 is observed from November 2011 to November 2012, with events around the country. Most prominently a convocation of university presidents was held at the Library of Congress and the land-grant mission was a theme of the Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife Festival held on the national mall in July of 2012.

2014For the first time, APLU allows a select group of Canadian and Mexican universities to become members.

2022—In September, Mark P. Becker, former president of Georgia State University, succeeds Peter McPherson as president of APLU.