MSU Remembers Morrill Act on Its Sesquicentennial

Jul 2, 2012

Today marks the 150th anniversary of a landmark law that revolutionized American education.  As WKAR’s Mark Bashore reports, the Morrill Act traces its roots to mid-Michigan.

The school that became Michigan State University was founded in 1855 as Michigan Agricultural College.  The federal government allocated land near Lansing for the school.

Then, on July 2, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act.  It led to the creation of more than 100 other “land grant” colleges.

MSU Director of Arts and Cultural Initiatives Kurt Dewhurst says its aim was to expand access to higher education.     

“Making higher education available to working class people and people who, up until that time, would not have had the opportunity to pursue higher education,” he says.

Dewhurst spoke from the National Mall in Washington D.C, where he is a curator of an exhibit about the law.  A smaller version of the display will be part of East Lansing’s Great Lakes Folk Festival next month.