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Looking Beyond 125 Years: USDA & 1890 Universities Renew Memorandum of Understanding

One hundred twenty-five years after the signing of the second Morrill Act led to the creation of 19 historically black land-grant colleges and universities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Council of 1890 Universities today renewed their memorandum of understanding for an additional five years. The MOU reaffirms, engages, and sustains the partnership between USDA and the historically black colleges created under the Second Morrill Act of 1890 – represented by the APLU Council of 1890 Universities.

“This agreement will further enhance and strengthen the historic partnership between our 1890 land-grant universities and the federal government,” said Juliette Bell, president of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and chair of the Council of 1890 Universities. “In the 125 years since the Second Morrill Act, our nation’s land-grant HBCU’s have achieved a vast array of successes ranging from increasing access and degree completion, innovative research, and engagement with our communities throughout the country. Our 1890 Universities play a critical role in enabling the American Dream to become a reality for thousands upon thousands of students each year while also strengthening our communities, states, and the nation. The support of the federal government is critical to our work as land-grant institutions, which is why we are so pleased to once again renew our agreement with the USDA.”

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been committed to the success of 1890 land-grant universities for the past 125 years. This agreement will further strengthen our ability to provide financial and technical support to universities that are conducting cutting-edge research, developing innovative technology, and educating and empowering young people,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “With the ever-increasing need to feed the growing world population and deal with the impacts of climate change, it’s more important than ever to train the next generation of policy makers, researchers and educators in the food and agricultural sciences. Together, we are growing American agriculture and making sure that our best and brightest young people have the opportunities and educational resources they need to succeed.”

Under the MOU, collaborative efforts between USDA and the 1890 institutions could include: attracting more students into careers in food, agricultural science, natural resources, and related fields; encouraging more students to work at USDA; strengthening the overall capacity of the 1890 Universities and recognizing them as full partners; and sharing expertise and resources. The MOU details a variety of ways in which USDA and the universities will collaborate to carry out these goals as well as many others.

The Morrill Act of 1890, which was enacted 28 years after the original Morrill Act of 1862, established black land-grant universities. The legislation gave states funds to establish state universities for persons of color if race was an admissions factor at the existing state university. Commonly referred to as 1890 Universities, these institutions have a track record of “serving the underserved” and “reaching the unreached.” Today, these campuses are proud to remain the custodians of access to and opportunity for higher education in underserved communities.

APLU’s Council of 1890s includes all historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that are land-grant universities. There are 19 universities designated with land-grant status under the Morrill Act of 1890: Alabama A&M University; Alcorn State University; Central State University; Delaware State University; Florida A&M University; Fort Valley State University; Kentucky State University; Langston University; Lincoln University; North Carolina A&T State University; Prairie View A&M University; South Carolina State University; Southern University System; Tennessee State University; Tuskegee University; University of Arkansas Pine Bluff; University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Virginia State University; and West Virginia State University.

APLU is a research, policy, and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. With a membership of 238 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations, APLU’s agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research, and expanding engagement.

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