Session S3b (Monday, 9:30am, Paterno 104)

P120: 1890 Morrill Act's legacy thrives at South Carolina State University

Louis Whitesides (South Carolina State University, USA)

Under the provisions of the second Morrill Act of 1890, On Monday, September 28, 1896 students first entered the classrooms of the newly established Colored Normal, Industrial, Agricultural and Mechanical College of South Carolina, known today as South Carolina State University. Although the look was dreary, the college still offered great hope to the people who were drawn from surrounding areas for a chance at the education S.C. State offered. Tuition at the time was free unless a student’s parents earned more than $1,000 a year and room and board were $35 a semester. Over 760 students, ranging from the ages of 6 to 40 enrolled at the college, which offered primary school through college courses. South Carolina State’s early curriculum emphasized industrial and agricultural courses including masonry, carpentry, harnessmaking, mechanical drawing, architecture, painting, sewing, dressmaking, cooking, housekeeping, typewriting and upholstery. High school and college students also took academic courses such as Latin, chemistry, ancient history and mental and moral science.


Today South Carolina State University, a senior comprehensive teaching institution, is committed to providing affordable and accessible quality undergraduate and graduate degree programs. This public university, with a student population between 4,000 and 5,000 has an 1890 land-grant legacy of service to the citizenry of the state that is ensured through its collaborative efforts with local, rural, and statewide businesses, public education, colleges and industry. This symbiotic relationship provides a catalyst that spurs a reciprocal economic and social growth for the University, state, nation and the international community at-large.

Through instruction, research and service activities, prepares highly skilled, competent, economically and socially aware graduates to meet life’s challenges and demands that enable them to work and live productively in a dynamic, global society. The University offers sixty baccalaureate programs in the areas of applied professional sciences, engineering technology, sciences (including Chemistry), arts, humanities, education and business. A small number of programs are offered at the master’s level in teaching, human services and agribusiness, and the educational specialist and doctorate programs are offered in educational administration. Faculty and students participate in research that stimulates intellectual growth, enhances and facilitates student learning and adds to the scientific knowledge base of the academy. Service activities, which are provided through programs, related to agriculture, adult and continuing education, research, cultural arts, small business development and other special interest areas, are designed to enhance the quality of life and promote economic growth. These efforts, supported by various applications of technology, are achieved in a climate of mutual trust and respect through methods of scholarly inquiry and scientific research.

A true testament of the Morrill Act’s realization is that Washington Monthly’s Magazine has ranked South Carolina State University #1 out of 256 universities in Social Mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students) four consecutive years to current.


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