School of AREAS Celebrates 125th Anniversary of the Second Morrill Land-Grant Act

The Alcorn State University School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences hosted its 125th anniversary seminar series Wednesday, March 25 in the Ray Johnson Assembly Center, Extension and Research Complex on the Lorman campus.

The event commemorated 125 years of the Second Morrill Act, which helped fund agricultural programs for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and promote liberal and practical education.

The program opened with a brief presentation on Alcorn and the history of the land-grant system by Alcorn students Simeyon Butler, a senior, and Sahara Wilson, a junior.

Dr. Deborah Brennan, area director with the United States Department of Agriculture — Agriculture Research Services served as one of the guest lecturers for the event.

“Land-grant institutions are special entities. They are the land lines that produce students who will solve the world’s future problems. 1890 schools provide an opportunity for everyone to have their needs met and nurtured,” said Brennan.

Dr. Jesse Harness, former extension administrator for the School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences, was also a lecturer for the seminar series. In his presentation entitled, “Alcorn and its Place in the History of 1890 Universities,” he gave a brief history of small farmers in rural Mississippi and their advancements toward the future of agriculture. He also spoke on various programs that the School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences offers to assist small-and-limited-resource farmers and ranchers throughout the socio-economically disadvantaged areas of the state.

“There is power in numbers and one thing that makes Alcorn different from other land-grant universities is that its programs are people driven rather than university driven,” said Harness.

The final presenter was Dr. Samuel L. Donald, former dean of the School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences, former chair, 1890 Association of Deans and Directors and USDA researcher, and retired faculty member. Dr. Donald gave a presentation on the Second Morrill Act and its role in the growth of the 1890 universities.

Donald discussed the purpose of USDA research, as well as the land-grant system’s growing effort in enhancing educational and research opportunities for students. Donald also explained the significance of educating students by utilizing the resources that the university has available. He encouraged everyone to make use of tools that will propel the university forward and underlined that our students are “priority number one.”

“We wouldn’t exist as an institution without the students. Teaching comes first,” said Donald.

Following the presentations, Alcorn President Alfred Rankins Jr. shared his perspective on the importance of agriculture. He also expressed appreciation to each of the guests for their participation in the event.

For more information on future seminars, contact Dr. Victor Njiti, AREAS Seminar Series Committee chair, at [email protected] or 601.877.2446. For a listing of commemorative 125th Anniversary events, visit .

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