Published on 12/06/04

Georgia Farm Bureau endows UGA land grant lectures

By Faith Peppers
University of Georgia
and Jennifer Whittaker
Georgia Farm Bureau

Georgia Farm Bureau President Wayne Dollar Monday presented a $100,000 donation to the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to endow the Georgia Farm Bureau Land Grant University Lecture Series.

Income from the endowment will support an annual lecture on or near the July 2 signing anniversary of the 1862 Morrill Act. This federal law provided public land to each state that could be sold to create funds to establish at least one university in each state to teach agriculture and mechanic arts.

Dollar made the presentation on behalf of the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation during the general session of the organization's 66th annual convention Dec. 6 on Jekyll Island.

'Common history'

"Georgia Farm Bureau and the University of Georgia share a great deal of common history," Dollar said. "The Georgia Farm Bureau Board of Directors and I believe it is important we not lose sight of the purpose of our land grant universities and the concept and premise on which they were built."

The lectures will be planned by a standing committee that will include the CAES dean and director, Georgia Farm Bureau president and Georgia agriculture commissioner. The committee will plan other projects, too, to spotlight the role land grant institutions play in the economy and their importance to the nation's future.

"This gift reflects what the Georgia Farm Bureau thinks about the nation's land grant universities in general and the University of Georgia in particular," said Gale Buchanan, CAES dean and director. "Their contributions will help in our effort to ensure that these remain viable institutions for future generations of Americans."

'Crucial for the future'

"I am firmly convinced that science and technology are crucial for the future success of agriculture," Dollar said. "We must maintain the strength of our land grant university, the University of Georgia."

The Morrill Act, also known as the Land Grant College Act, was introduced by Rep. Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont. Morrill wanted to make sure education was available to all social classes.

The act changed the course of higher education by broadening its focus from strictly classical studies to include classes that would prepare students for the world they would face after they left the classroom.

Besides agriculture and engineering, the schools established by the grant were intended to teach military tactics, home economics and other professions practical at the time.

Under the Morrill Act, each state received 30,000 acres of public land for every member of its U.S. Congressional delegation, based on the 1860 census. More than 70 land grant colleges were established under the original act.

The 1890 Morrill Act established more of these schools in 16 Southeastern states to provide the same educational opportunities to black students there. Fort Valley State University was established by this act.

Georgia beginnings

Georgia received and sold its Morrill Act lands in 1873 after it was readmitted to the United States following Reconstruction. Gov. James M. Smith made an executive contract on March 30, 1872, that UGA was the only institution in the state authorized to establish a college such as that described in the 1862 act.

The UGA Board of Trustees then established the Georgia State College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts. A forerunner to this college was the UGA Terrell Professorship of Agriculture, first filled by Dr. Daniel Lee in 1855.

Now the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the college offers more than 20 areas of study through 11 departments. It operates three agricultural experiment stations, four extension educational centers and the Rural Development Center in Tifton.

The CAES also oversees the Cooperative Extension Service, which provides agricultural and family and consumer science agents for each of Georgia's 159 counties.

Founded in 1937, the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation is the state's largest general farm organization, with more than 400,000 member families statewide.

(Faith Peppers is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Jennifer Whittaker the editor of the Georgia Farm Bureau News.)

Jennifer Whittaker is an editor with the Georgia Farm Bureau.

Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.