Conference marks partnership between U, southern colleges

by Amy Olson

Twenty-five faculty members and administrators from four historically black colleges visited with University professors and administrators for the first time Thursday for a two-day conference.
The conference launched the beginning of a formal partnership in agriculture, human ecology, natural resources and veterinary education between the University and schools in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities consortium. The four disciplines are traditionally part of the curriculum at land-grant colleges.
The Morrill Act, or land-grant act, of 1862 gave each state land within its borders; the income from the land was to be used to provide education for the people of the state.
Professors from four of the participating colleges — including Alabama A & M University in Huntsville, Ala., Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Ala., Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., and Langston University in Langston, Okla. — came to meet with colleagues.
Maggi Adamek, associate director of the University’s Visions for Change office, said the conference was designed to bring faculty members from historically black land grant colleges together with colleagues from the University to promote collaboration through faculty and student exchanges, joint research and shared courses taught by interactive television. Visions for Change is an organization sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to promote the agricultural education function of land grant universities.
Adamek added the partnership could develop graduate school “feeder programs” from the colleges to the University, and joint programs could provide a link between African-American students in the Twin Cities and the southern schools.
Phil Larsen, associate dean of the University’s agriculture school, said the partnerships will also allow University researchers to learn from their colleagues. Twenty-eight years after their white counterparts, most historically black colleges received their land grant status in 1890.
Larsen said University officials could learn from their colleagues at the comparatively smaller schools, which have traditionally had fewer resources.
“Those institutions have been resourceful,” Larsen said.
Prosanto Biswas, an agronomy professor at Tuskegee University, said he hopes the two universities can arrange short faculty exchanges and cooperative research projects, explaining the University has more resources and could provide opportunities for professors and students.
Other professors agreed.
Robert Taylor, an agriculture professor at Alabama A & M University, said he wants the partnership to be mutually beneficial.
“I hope we can exchange ideas,” Taylor said. “I think we have something to get back to the University.”