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The Voice of the Black Community

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Senate bill allows land grant HBCUs room to expand financial flexibility
Bipartisan legislation scraps discriminatory policy
 
Published Sunday, February 11, 2018 2:08 pm
by Herbert L. White

PHOTO | N.C. A&T STATE UNIVERSITY
A bipartisan bill co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. would eliminate a federal rule that prohibits land grand black colleges from carrying over more than 20 percent of their equity from one fiscal year to the next. Among the 19 schools impacted are N.C. A&T State and S.C. State universities.

A Senate bill would expand the financial flexibility of historically black land grant colleges’ agriculture mission.

The Carryover Equity Act, co-sponsored by North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis, would overturn a provision in the National Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 that prohibits 1890 land grant colleges from carrying over more than 20 percent of their equity from one fiscal year to the next. The policy doesn’t apply to other Department of Agriculture programs. Among the 19 schools affected are N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro and S.C. State University in Orangeburg.

“Despite being faced with senseless financial limitations, North Carolina A&T State University has made invaluable contributions that have helped North Carolina build one of the most advanced extension services in the country,” Tillis said. “The Carryover Equity Act will eliminate unnecessary restrictions and allow land-grant universities like North Carolina A&T to gain the financial flexibility they need to continue advancing their programs through long-term investment and project development.”

Proponents contend the legislation would give land grand HBCUs the same financial flexibility enjoyed by their predominantly white peers, such as N.C. State University, but allowing them to use funds as they see fit.

“The Carryover Equity Act will support the communities and stakeholders who rely on North Carolina A&T Cooperative Extension for critically important services in 101 extension centers across the state,” A&T Chancellor Harold Martin said in a statement. “We look forward to expanding the land-grant outreach opportunities the passage of this bill will allow.”

There are 19 HBCU land grant colleges in 18 states from Ohio to Oklahoma. The Morrill Act of 1890 required states to show race was not a criterion for college admissions, or designate a separate land-grant school for African Americans – mostly in the former confederacy. The law gave black colleges the same legal standing as white schools established under the original Morrill Act of 1862.

“These land grants were established to provide additional research and extension activities,” said Sen. David Perdue, a Georgia Republican. “Agriculture extension services are results driven and directly contribute to America’s agriculture industry be the most competitive in the world. Allowing schools like Fort Valley State in Georgia to carry over unused grant funds from year to year, will provide them with more certainty when making long-term budgeting decisions.”

Said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat: “The University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and historically black land grant universities across the country, educate our students in fields ranging from innovative agricultural practices to advanced engineering. Ensuring they have the financial flexibility they need to complete their mission is crucial.”


In addition to Tillis, Perdue and Van Hollen, co-sponsors include Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democrats Ben Cardin of Maryland, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Chris Coons of Delaware, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.


“Land-grant institutions like Central State play an important role in educating students and contributing to Ohio’s agriculture and food science industries,” Brown said. “These universities deserve the flexibility to use their funding in a way that promotes research and encourages continued success for their students.”

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