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The Voice of the Black Community

Local & State

Bills would give land grant HBCUs economic flexibility for equity
NC's Sen. Tillis, Rep. Adams sponsor legislation
 
Published Saturday, February 17, 2018 12:22 pm
by Herbert L. White

A pair of congressional bills would expand the financial flexibility of historically black land grant colleges’ agriculture mission.


The Carryover Equity Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, 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.”

U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, a Charlotte Democrat and A&T graduate who is co-chair of the bipartisan HBCU Caucus, is introducing the bill in the House of Representatives.

“After years of arbitrary inequity, I’m proud to introduce this vital piece of legislation to ensure schools, like North Carolina A&T University, have the resources and flexibility they need to better serve our communities,”she said.

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. Lindsay 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.

“These universities deserve the flexibility to use their funding in a way that promotes research and encourages continued success for their students,” Brown said.

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