OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

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Understanding OSU's Land Grant Status

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this training module, you will:

Understand the historical context of OSU's land grant status.
Become familiar with the OSU Strategic Plan and its purpose.
Review and understand OSU's mission, vision and values statement.

Employees coming to OSU from the private or public sector, and without a background in higher education, often comment that it’s difficult to understand how the higher education system works. Based on their previous experience, the way in which the institution goes about its business initially doesn’t make sense.

To appreciate the way in which OSU works, it's helpful to first grasp the land grant designation in which OSU is rooted.

A Land Grant Institution

OSU is one of only a few institutions to have been appointed the status of a land, sea, sun and space grant university. This entrustment is what drives the mission of the institution. The essence of what it means to be a land grant university is the integration of teaching, research (scholarship) and extension.

Historical Context

The Morrill Land Grant Acts: 1862 and 1890

Although the heart of American economics at this time was primarily the production of agricultural goods, it was the wealthy class and not the average citizen who had access to higher education.

The Morrill Land Grant Acts made education possible for the common person and provides research and service to its citizenry. These Acts, along with other related laws, is impressive in that the language continues to be relevant today.

Summary from Wikipedia: Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890 established the Land Grant university system. On July 2, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law what is generally referred to as the Land Grant Act. This granted to each state 30,000 acres of public land. The proceeds from the sale of these lands were to be invested in a perpetual endowment fund which would provide support for colleges of agriculture and mechanical arts in each of the states. MORE...

Other Related ActsHatch Act (1887) established agricultural experiment stations in each state, connected to land grant universities, “to aid in acquiring and diffusing among people of the U.S. useful and practical information on subjects connected with agriculture, and to promote scientific investigations and experiments respecting the principles and applications of agricultural sciences.” MORE...


Smith-Lever Act (1914) established the Extension Service as a cooperative venture among federal, state, local (county), and individual funding support to disseminate agricultural college-generated knowledge beyond the campus to farms and consumers. MORE...