Event will open land-grant dialogue

Symposium to occur 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday in CUB Senior Ballroom



Christine Hoyt, WSU chief of staff, says the symposium will help realign the university goals with the original land-grant mission Tuesday afternoon in the French administration building.

LAUREN ELLENBECKER, Evergreen reporter

A system-wide symposium will focus on the development of land-grant universities in a constantly developing society from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday in the CUB Senior Ballroom.

WSU Chief of Staff Christine Hoyt said the symposium, “A Call to Action,” will be broadcast to other WSU campuses via video conference.

“This is an opportunity to engage on these conversations [and discuss] how land-grant institutions adapt and become more flexible given where we are in the state of the economy and changes that are happening societally,” Hoyt said.

The event will be led by Stephen Gavazzi, a professor of human development at Ohio State University and co-author of “Land-Grant Universities for the Future.”

At the symposium, there will be panel discussions about engaging the community, doing meaningful research and teaching, Hoyt said. There will also be discussions regarding WSU’s land-grant strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats, as well as how these responsibilities tie into the university’s “Drive to 25” vision.

Gavazzi will speak about WSU’s role of being a land-grant university in Washington and how it can fulfill its responsibility to represent teaching, research and community service in the 21st century.

Land-grant universities were implemented after the creation of the Morrill Act in 1862, Gavazzi said, which enabled the working class to receive higher education. He said the government set aside 35,000 acres of federal land for each state to use as a resource to build public universities.

“They wanted to open up the doors to the American Dream for others who weren’t privileged to get a higher education,” Gavazzi said.

Phil Weiler, vice president of marketing and communications, said these universities were created when agriculture and engineering were every state’s main economic drivers. He said the same economy does not exist, and now the role of a land-grant university is different.

“It’s a testament that it has lasted this long,” Weiler said.

Gavazzi said land-grant universities can influence the future of America, and new strategic plans need to be created to adhere to this. He said students who attend land-grant universities should know the importance and what the responsibility is of attending their university.

“If they’re not given information regarding the importance, they won’t be able to exercise the importance of being a part of land-grant universities,” Gavazzi said.

Gavazzi has spoken about the significance of land-grant universities at Ohio State University, the University of Delaware and West Virginia University.

Anyone can attend or stream the event for free, and those who want to attend must register.