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About the Center

The Morrill Act of 1862 created America’s unique system of land-grant colleges and universities. Land-grants are national leaders in research productivity and undergraduate and graduate education, and also serve as engines of growth for state economies. For the past 150 years, these institutions have undertaken a critical role in expanding access to higher education for traditionally underserved populations. In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act attached the Cooperative Extension Service to land-grant colleges and universities as a permanent arm of outreach to rural and underserved communities. The land-grant complex is a distinctive higher education model that has been studied and imitated across the globe, as leaders strive to leverage the teaching, research, and service/engagement missions to address critical issues like food security, poverty, rural community development, health, environmental degradation, economic development, technology and innovation, and educational access and equity.


The Center for the Future of Land-Grant Education (“The Land-Grant Center”) was officially launched in April 2017, and is the only higher education research center in the country focused exclusively on land-grant institutions, policies, access and success, leadership, and engagement. To produce high-quality scholarship and influence higher education policy, the faculty affiliates of The Land-Grant Center will partner with researchers from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), the Rural Trust, the University Engagement Consortia, the National Rural Education Association, and higher education scholars from across the country. 

The goal of The Land-Grant Center is to be a national leader in the advancement of knowledge within the following areas:

  • Land-Grant and Public Higher Education Policy and Practice
  • Student Access, Retention, and Success
  • Higher Education Engagement, Community Outreach, and Economic Development
  • Land-Grant Leadership and Institutional Effectiveness

The Land-Grant Center is affiliated with three graduate education programs at West Virginia University aimed at creating future leaders and scholars of higher education that have a unique understanding of public higher education issues and the land-grant institutional context. These include the Master of Arts in Higher Education, the Doctorate of Education in Higher Education, and the Doctorate of Philosophyin Education with a specialization in Higher Education.

The Land-Grant Center is located in 501 Allen Hall on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia.