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LU can't continue to subsidize land grant match

LU can't continue to subsidize land grant match

February 26th, 2017 by Bob Watson in Local News

Soldiers Memorial on the campus of Lincoln University honors the men of the 62nd and 65th Colored Infantries who founded the institution in Jefferson City after they fought in the Civil War.

Photo by News Tribune /News Tribune.

There is no money in the proposed budget bills for the 2017-18 state business year — introduced in the Missouri House last week — designated for Lincoln University to match available federal funds for LU's land grant program.

Since 2000, when David B. Henson was Lincoln's president — and continuing through the Carolyn Mahoney, Connie Hamacher and Kevin Rome administrations — LU administrators have shifted some funds in their budget so they could pay for the state's local match to federal land grant funds, so Lincoln could get the federal money it qualified for.

"Since 2000 to this year, it's about $43 million that we've pulled out of our tuition or out of our (state funding) base, to support the land grant match requirement," Chief Financial Officer Sandra Koetting told Lincoln's Faculty Senate on Thursday. "We've been trying to support that particular mission of the institution.

"(But) in the last three years, we've had to change our budgeting process, because we can no longer afford to do that."

Lincoln is one of 18 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the nation added to the federal land grant program under an 1890 law, the "Second Morrill Act."

President Abraham Lincoln signed the "First Morrill Act" in 1862.

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An Association of Public Land-grant Universities (APLU) September 2013 policy brief reported the 1862 law forged "a new partnership between the federal government and the states to create the backbone for what is today the public system of higher education in America.

"For more than 150 years since that historic event, the nation's land grant colleges and universities have provided a 'liberal and practical education' and these institutions have helped open the doors of access and empower students with the education they need.

"These institutions have also developed groundbreaking research that has moved our country forward, and these institutions continue to provide rural communities in each state with robust solutions to the challenges they face — both agriculturally and socially."

There's at least one land grant school in each of the 50 states under the 1862 law, including the University of Missouri.

In the APLU policy paper — which the association said Friday has not been updated since September 2013 — authors John Michael Lee Jr. and Samaad Wes Keys noted, with both the 1862 and 1890 laws, "the federal government committed to providing financial support to schools, so long as states matched that level of support."

However, the 16-page report said: "States are failing to provide the nation's 1890 historically black land grant universities the same level of one-to-one matching dollars they provide other land grant institutions that receive federal funding."

Koetting told the Faculty Senate she and other LU officials have been meeting with lawmakers about the need.

In their presentation, it's noted from 2000-17, the federal appropriation awarded to LU was $103.3 million, requiring a state match of $91 million.

But the state appropriated only $10.6 million, while LU's moving money within its budget provided $42.9 million for the match.

Thanks to some federal waivers that covered part of the difference — and are not guaranteed from year to year — Lincoln only had to return $11.3 million due to "insufficient match resources," the school has told lawmakers.

The APLU policy report explained: "While one-to-one matching is a requirement for all states with land grant universities, states often do not fulfill the matching requirement for (their) 1890 land grant institutions while meeting and, in many cases, exceeding the matching requirement for 1862 land grant institutions in the same state."

For several years, Rome has noted Missouri government's support for MU's land grant programs is built in to the Columbia-based university's core budget, while LU's state support has had to be requested each year.

And, even in years when lawmakers added some money to the state budget, much of it has been withheld by the governor.

"We are hopeful that the state of Missouri will do right by its citizens and Lincoln University and support our land grant mission," Rome told the News Tribune Friday.

"There are no circumstances by which the state of Missouri can justify funding its 1862 land grant institution match, being the University of Missouri, and not supporting its 1890 land grant institution, Lincoln University."

Rome added: "We want parity and equity. We are not asking for special treatment — we are asking for equal treatment."

The University of Missouri is designated as having a statewide mission in Missouri's Constitution.

During the years of segregation, Lincoln served as the statewide university serving African Americans — and that mission has continued since the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling segregation is unconstitutional.

Although not specified in the state Constitution, state law since at least 1929 has required Lincoln's board of curators be organized "after the manner of the board of curators of the state University of Missouri," and LU's curators have the same "powers, authority, responsibilities, privileges, immunities, liabilities and compensation as those prescribed by statute" for MU's curators.

Both LU and MU have Extension programs as part of their land grant missions, and in Missouri, they're called a "Cooperative Extension" program.

For the most part, the two programs focus on different areas and serve different groups so on the whole more Missourians benefit.

In their presentation to lawmakers, LU officials explain: "Lincoln University provides research-based educational outreach programs in Jefferson City, Kansas City, St. Louis and three locations in the Southeast region of the Bootheel (and) Extension services to the elderly, youth and small farmers statewide."

During last week's Faculty Senate meeting, it was noted 1890 schools in some states have sued their state government — and won retroactive matching payments.

But, Koetting reported, LU's administration has so far chosen not to go that route.

"It's a lengthy process — some say it takes 30 years to sue and get your money," she explained. "That's not going to help us today or tomorrow, and what it could do is hinder us today or tomorrow — because again you're ruining your reputation potentially in order to get these dollars."

Rome told the News Tribune Friday: "Lincoln University is the oldest 1890 land grant University in this country.

"We are one of the most diverse, if not the most diverse, university in the state of Missouri.

"If we lose our ability to match our $7.1 million required match, Lincoln University loses its birthright — it's time for the state of Missouri to provide equity and parity for Lincoln University."