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Land-Grant Universities for the Future

, 216 pages
November 2018



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Land-Grant Universities for the Future

Higher Education for the Public Good


Land-grant colleges and universities occupy a special place in the landscape of American higher education. Publicly funded agricultural and technical educational institutions were first founded in the mid-nineteenth century with the Morrill Act, which established land grants to support these schools. They include such prominent names as Cornell, Maryland, Michigan State, MIT, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, Texas A&M, West Virginia University, Wisconsin, and the University of California—in other words, four dozen of the largest and best public universities in America. Add to this a number of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and tribal colleges—in all, almost 300 institutions. Their mission is a democratic and pragmatic one: to bring science, technology, agriculture, and the arts to the American people.

In this book, Stephen M. Gavazzi and E. Gordon Gee discuss present challenges to and future opportunities for these institutions. Drawing on interviews with 27 college presidents and chancellors, Gavazzi and Gee explore the strengths and weaknesses of land-grant universities while examining the changing threats they face. Arguing that the land-grant university of the twenty-first century is responsible to a wide range of constituencies, the authors also pay specific attention to the ways these universities meet the needs of the communities they serve. Ultimately, the book suggests that leaders and supporters should become more fiercely land-grant in their orientation; that is, they should work to more vigorously uphold their community-focused missions through teaching, research, and service-oriented activities.

Combining extensive research with Gee’s own decades of leadership experience, Land-Grant Universities for the Future argues that these schools are the engine of higher education in America—and perhaps democracy’s best hope. This book should be of great interest to faculty members and students, as well as those parents, legislators, policymakers, and other area stakeholders who have a vested interest in the well-being of America’s original public universities.

Stephen M. Gavazzi is a professor of human development and family science at The Ohio State University. He is the author of Families with Adolescents: Bridging the Gaps between Theory, Research, and Practice. E. Gordon Gee is the president of West Virginia University. He is the coauthor of Law, Policy, and Higher Education and coeditor of Leading Colleges and Universities: Lessons from Higher Education Leaders.

"A thoughtful, engaging, and important book that will be of interest to anyone who cares about land-grant institutions and their future. I highly recommend it."

"Land-Grant Universities for the Future is a wonderful mixture of wise commentary from its two authors and quotes from in-depth interviews with leaders from many of these schools. It reveals the challenges and opportunities facing our preeminent public universities."

"Gavazzi and Gee have written an eloquent history of land-grant universities and their promising future. Institutions with degrees in higher education administration should make this required reading for all students. This book will inspire future leaders to embrace teaching, service learning, civic engagement, and research, all born of a proud history."

"Gavazzi and Gee provide important new insights about the need for land-grant universities to develop a renewed community-focused orientation for the twenty-first century. Internal and external stakeholders interested in the unique role of land-grant universities in higher education will find this an engaging read."

"With Gavazzi's deep knowledge of university engagement and Gee's vast presidential experience, these authors deliver a tour-de-force that chronicles the present state and future direction of land-grant universities. It is a call to arms to rebuild relationships with a skeptical public to preserve the land-grant idea for future generations."

"At a time when public confidence in higher education is on the decline, Gavazzi and Gee offer a critical roadmap for land-grant universities going forward. The reader is reminded of the power of public higher education when land-grant and public universities work to build meaningful partnerships with their communities. Faculty, administrators, and policymakers should take this message to heart and regain the critical support needed for public higher education in America."

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