Land-Grant System Legislation

Morrill Act – Also known as the Land-Grant College Act, this legislation was enacted by the US Congress in 1862 to assist states in financing colleges that would specialize in “agriculture and the mechanic arts” (agriculture, engineering, and military science). The initial funding to support this legislation was done by making grants of federal land (30,000 acres/congressional seat) to all states. The states were directed to sell the land and use the funds generated to establish the new college or initiate programs in established colleges in support of the applied sciences. The Morrill Act was named after Vermont Congressman Justin Morrill, author of the legislation.

WVU Agricultural College – Established in 1867 from the sale of land (150,000 acres) granted from Minnesota and Iowa that was sold and generated $90,000 for the College. In 1888 the College was renamed West Virginia University.

Second Morrill Act – This legislation enacted in 1890 expanded the land-grant system to include historically black institutions.

West Virginia Colored Institute – Established in 1891 under the provision of the second Morrill Act, West Virginia Colored Institute became West Virginia State College (WVSC) in 1929. In 1954, WVSC was compelled to surrender the land-grant status. WVSC regained its land-grant status by an act of Congress in 2001.

Hatch Act – This legislation enacted in 1887 authorized federal land grants to states to create agricultural experiment stations. These experiment stations were usually connected with the land-grant state colleges founded under the Morrill Act. West Virginia accepted $15,000 authorized by the Hatch Act and passed legislation to create the West Virginia Experiment Station in 1889 as a component of West Virginia University. Congress amended the Hatch Act in 1955 to authorize annual formula funding to experiment stations based on the rural and farm population of the respective states. This formula funding required a 100% match from state appropriated funds to the experiment stations.

Smith-Lever Act – Legislation enacted by Congress in 1914 to establish and authorize funding for the Cooperative Agricultural Extension Service as a partnership of the US Department of Agriculture and the land-grant universities. States were required to match 100% of the federal funding from non-federal sources. The purpose of the Extension Service was to share the practical and useful results of the scientific research from the Experiment Stations with the American populace, particularly the homemaker and farmer.

West Virginia Cooperative Extension Service – A division of Extension was established in the College of Agriculture at West Virginia University in 1911. The Agricultural Extension Service was created in the College in 1913. With the passage of the Smith-Lever Act, the state signed a memorandum of understanding establishing Cooperative Extension in 1914. The College in 1916 elevated agricultural extension to a separate division from the resident instruction.

McIntire-Stennis Forestry Research Act – Legislation enacted by Congress in 1962 authorizing the Secretary of Agriculture to assist land-grant universities and state experiment stations with programs of forestry research. This funding would be matched 100% from non-federal sources by all participating states. Use and allocation of this funding would be under the control of the director of the Agriculture Experiment Station. A two-year program of study in land use and practices of forestry was created at West Virginia University in 1935. A four-year degree program (bachelor of science in forestry) and the Division of Forestry within the College were established in 1937.