A monument to the former slaves and Union Army soldiers who raised money to found Lincoln University greets visitors to the historically Black college and university located in Jefferson City (Photo courtesy of Lincoln University).
Missouri lawmakers took the historic step Friday of voting to allocate the full state match that Lincoln University needs to receive the maximum amount of federal land-grant funding available.
The funding, included in the state’s $45 billion operating budget passed Friday by the House and Senate, now heads to the governor’s desk.
“This is the first year that Lincoln University has gotten a [full] state match for this land-grant funding,” said Sen. Brian Williams, D-University City, before the Senate vote Friday. “For those that don’t realize, that is a big deal. That is a significant deal.”
Lincoln, a historically Black college and university located in Jefferson City, is one of the state’s two land-grant institutions – or designated universities that have received federal funding for agricultural research and instruction since the late 1800s.
In 2000, the federal government mandated that states start matching the federal funding for land-grant universities. And every federal dollar that the state doesn’t match for Lincoln must go back to the federal government.
Last year, Lincoln received a 50% state match – or $4.9 million of the required $9.75 million – which was only the second time the university had received as much as a 50% match from the state since 2000.
“This is good…but we’re not talking about all the past years of neglect that the state has done upon Lincoln,” said State Rep. Kevin Windham, D-Hillsdale, said before the House vote on Friday.
Not wanting to lose out on the federal dollars, Lincoln previously used its core budget – funds meant to benefit all academic departments – to match the federal funds for agricultural research and instruction.
Windham told The Independent in March that the state not only needs to fully fund Lincoln’s land grant match each year, but it also needs to reimburse Lincoln for the $43 million that it had to take out of its core funding since 2000 to use as a match.
The University of Missouri was established as a land-grant university in 1870 through the Morrill Act of 1862, which funded educational institutions by granting federally-controlled land to the states. Proceeds from sale of the land provided funds to focus on teaching practical agriculture, science, military science and engineering.
Nearly 30 years later through the Morrill Act of 1890, the federal government said it would cease funding to states that didn’t accept African-American students into their land-grant universities – unless the states established a separate land-grant institution where African Americans could attend.
Originally established as Lincoln Institute in 1866 with donations from former slaves serving in the Union Army, Lincoln was among the 18 HBCUs designated for the funding.
Today, nearly all of the land-grant HBCUs fail to receive a full state appropriation, according to Forbes.
Gov. Mike Parson’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year included $5.2 million for Lincoln’s land-grant funding – about half of the required match. However, there was a bipartisan push by legislators to get the full required state funding.
Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City, told The Independent previously that it’s been “very painful” to watch those dollars go back to the feds every year because the state didn’t match them.
“It seems like the University of Missouri always gets the full funding of the land grant,” Griffith said, “and Lincoln University is kind of like the red-headed stepchild.”
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