UF to celebrate land-grant university system’s 150th anniversary with outreach, events
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida is preparing to launch a series of events to mark the land-grant university system’s 150th anniversary.
Starting next week, a team from UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will help present a UF display at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The festival will be held June 27 to July 1 and July 4-8. The display, called “Water: Connections for Life,” focuses on the importance of water to life in Florida, and how UF/IFAS innovative research and education programs help residents and agricultural producers alike ensure water quality and conserve water resources.
UF President Bernie Machen is heading the celebration as chairman of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ Presidential Steering Committee on the Morrill Act Sesquicentennial Anniversary.
“We’re extremely proud of our land-grant heritage,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “This anniversary is an ideal time for IFAS to showcase its past accomplishments, explain our future plans for fulfilling the land-grant mission, and raise awareness of the land-grant system among Florida residents.”
IFAS research and extension faculty from around the state have already begun making anniversary-related plans. At the Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, director Christine Waddill said officials reached out to their local UF alumni groups to make joint plans to mark the anniversary as well as to forge new partnerships. One of those groups is now using the center to hold evening meetings, she said.
Other activities still in planning stages: lectures being organized by the colleges of engineering and liberal arts and sciences; the Florida Museum of Natural History has plans to devote a Science Café and an “Ask a Scientist” event to the land-grant theme, and the College of Design, Construction and Planning is creating an annual award to recognize its best service learning project.
Updates on the activities will be posted at a new website, “Florida’s Land Grant University: Results Beyond Education,” which can be found at www.landgrant.ufl.edu. The site includes a listing of events from around the state and the main UF campus that relate to the anniversary celebration, as well as a video, timeline, history of the Morrill Act, recent news releases on IFAS research and links to helpful resources, said Ruth Borger, assistant vice president for UF/IFAS Communication.
“We’re so excited to do everything we can to help spread the word about the land-grant anniversary,” Borger said, “and we encourage everyone to take part in the celebration.”
Florida has two land-grant institutions, UF and Florida A&M University; UF/IFAS is the state’s largest land-grant agriculture and natural resources program.
On July 2, 1862, Lincoln signed legislation commonly called the Morrill Act, which provided federal land to the states to build public universities. Subjects taught at those universities included agricultural sciences, engineering and military tactics, opening higher education to the middle class like never before.
In the fall, UF/IFAS will celebrate the anniversary at the annual TailGator event, sponsored by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and the college will commemorate the anniversary with a float in UF’s annual Homecoming parade Nov. 9.
In April, UF/IFAS faculty will take part in a campuswide symposium that will examine the future of the land-grant institution.