Morrill, Hatch and Smith-Lever Acts Shape NDSU

Three legislative acts acted as catalysts in North Dakota State’s history.

David Buchanan, associate dean for academic programs, presented the history and relevance of how the Morrill, Hatch and Smith-Lever Acts changed NDSU Thursday to students, faculty and staff. According to Buchanan, these acts, “revolutionized higher education.”

“A higher education should be available to anybody,” Buchanan said. “The moral of the story and the bigger purpose is in the last two phrases (0f the Morrill Act).”

Those last two phrases are about promoting the, ‘liberal and practical education of the industrial classes’ and achieving ‘several pursuits and professions in life.’ In other words, higher education should be available for anybody.

Higher education used to be only available to the wealthy, but the Morrill Act, which was passed in 1862, has opened doors for many, including NDSU President Dean Bresciani.

Bresciani’s father was the the first member of his family born in the U.S. and the first to speak English. Because of opportunities created by the Morrill Act, Bresciani was the first member of his family to attend college.

The Hatch and Smith-Lever Acts also established three entities within the College of Agriculture; the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station, NDSU Extension and NDSU Agricultural Affairs. These entities are, “set up a little differently than other colleges,” Buchanan said.

The North Dakota Agricultural Experiment station conducts basic and applied research within academic departments. This is a separate budget agency from NDSU, which means the money can be exclusively used for research and research only.

“We can’t spend that money on new microscopes for students,” Buchanan said.

NDSU Extension is also a separate budget agency from NDSU and helps connect NDSU with local agricultural groups and clubs like 4-H.

NDSU Agricultural Affairs embodies both and consists of more than 150 active faculty.

Buchanan also gave the presentation to new faculty at the beginning of the year.

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