2005 William H. Hatch Lecture
Given by William B. DeLauder, President
Emeritus, Delaware State University
National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges Annual Meeting
November 14, 2005, Washington, DC
DeLauder Biography (PDF)
“The Hatch Act of 1887:
Legacy, Challenges and Opportunities”
Thank you so much for the warmth of your welcome. I appreciate all the efforts
of all the organizers that made it possible for me to be here. It is a distinct
privilege and a very great honor for me to deliver the 2005 William Henry
Hatch Memorial Lecture. It is a special honor because of the long list of
distinguished Americans who have preceded me on this platform.
In a thirty-two year career in higher
education spent equally between two great
1890 land-grant universities, North Carolina
Agricultural and Technical State University
and Delaware State University , I have
had the privilege to experience and to
learn about the unique and essential role
that our land-grant universities play in
improving the quality of life within these
United States of America. These are truly
One of the things that America does better
than any other country in the world is
produce an abundance of safe and nutritious
food and fiber. Most of the credit for
this must go to the hard work and ingenuity
of the American farmer.
But this success would not have been possible
without the supporting research and cooperative
extension work of our land-grant colleges
In 1987, John Patrick Jordan, former administrator
of the Cooperative Research Service, observed
that “research is the fuel for this
dynamic industry we call agriculture.” Our
farmers have used this fuel efficiently
to collectively develop the most productive
agriculture industry in the history of
One of the more tangible benefits of this
agriculture industry is that average Americans
spend less of their income on food than
their counterparts across the world.
Through their teaching and research, our
state universities and land-grant colleges
have educated many individuals, both Americans
and international scholars who have been
some of the leaders of the world. In agriculture,
a good indicator of this success is documented
by the fact that, according to the President
of the World Food Prize, fifteen of the
past 24 recipients of the World Food Prize
have been educated at our land-grant universities.
The World Food Prize is awarded to the
individual or individuals who has or have
made the greatest contribution to the advancement
of the science of feeding people.
This prosperity and these accomplishments
are due in large measure to the forward
thinking and unyielding determination of
Congressman William H. Hatch of Missouri.
After several years of debate and the
introduction of various versions of an
experiment station bill, Congressman Hatch,
then chair of the House Agriculture Committee,
introduced legislation to provide funding
for the states and territories to establish
Agriculture Experiment Stations.
Signed on March 2, 1887, The Hatch Act
was the first of a series of legislations
that provided land-grant universities with
the financial resources needed to develop
programs in agricultural research.
Under the provisions of the Act, each
state or U.S. territory was funded to establish
an agricultural experiment station in connection
with the college or colleges established
under the provisions of the First Morrill
Act of 1862 or in the words of the Hatch
Act, “of the acts supplementary thereto.” I
will return to the latter point.
As Congressman Hatch had envisioned, these
experiment stations formed unique partnerships
between the states and the federal government
and were expected to engage in basic and
applied research that bears on and benefits
the agricultural industry of the United
However, the initial funding for experiment
stations was inadequate to fulfill the
expectations of the Hatch Act. As a consequence,
several supplementary pieces of legislation
followed to increase the funding of agricultural
They were: (1) The Adams Act of 1906,
(2) The Purnell Act of 1925, (3) The Bankhead-Jones
Act of 1935, and (4) title I, section 9
of the 1945 amendment to the Bankhead-Jones
Act. The Purnell Act not only increased
funding but also expanded the scope of
research to include economic and sociological
investigations to improve rural homes and
The Bankhead-Jones Act established formula
funding and required the state to provide
matching dollars for research. In 1955,
the Hatch Act of 1887 was amended to consolidate
all previous laws that provided federal-grant
funds for the operation of agricultural
I also remind you that the origins of
NASULGC evolved from an earlier association
formed specifically to coordinate the activities
of the newly created experiment stations.
After the passage of the Hatch Act, the
Association of American Agricultural Colleges
and Experiment Stations was formed in October
This organization experienced several
name changes, broadened its membership
and scope, and finally in 1965 settled
on its current name, the National Association
of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.
I have been a student of the history of
the land-grant system, both because of
its unique and essential system for the
continued prosperity and vitality of this
country and because of my passion for issues
of equity and parity.
The current system has elements of both.
The more research that I conduct on the
history of land-grant, the more I discover
new information and gain insight to the
complexities of it past and purpose.
To illustrate this point, I will share
with you an event told to me by Dr. Ulysses
Washington, one of Delaware State University
's former agricultural research directors.
Dr. Washington recalls a situation that
occurred in 1960 when the late Dr. Luna
I. Mishoe assumed the presidency of then
Delaware State College.
Dr. Mishoe attended his first land-grant
meeting and much of the discussion centered
on agricultural experiment stations. Dr.
Mishoe was a bit uneasy because he did
not know where the Delaware State College
experiment station was located.
Dr. Mishoe immediately called the campus
and spoke with the head of the agricultural
department. To his chagrin, he learned
that Delaware State College did not have
an experiment station.
Thus, Dr. Mishoe was introduced to one
of the inequities that existed within the
land-grant system. The fact of the matter
is that most 1890 land-grant universities
never received funding to establish an
agricultural experiment station either
under the Hatch Act or subsequent, supplementary
acts or via State funding. I am aware of
three exceptions, though I must admit that
the record is unclear and somewhat ambiguous
on this point.
To be sure, one of our problems is that
we do not have a comprehensive and well-documented
history of the 1890 land-grant universities.
As best I have been able to determine,
the three exceptions are:
(1) Tuskegee University in 1897 received
funding from the state of Alabama to establish
an experiment station. This was a testament
to the research and extension work of George
Washington Carver, one of our nation's
great scientists and inventors.
(2) Prairie View A&M University established
a branch experiment station to the Texas
A&M University experiment station in
(3) a branch experiment station to the
Mississippi State experiment station was
established at Alcorn State University
around 1971 and was later designated as
an autonomous station.
Nevertheless, the original language of
the Hatch Act of 1887 or the law permitted
the establishment of agricultural experiment
stations at land-grant institutions established
after 1862. The Hatch Act contains an important
proviso that reads: “Provided, That
in any State or Territory in which two
such colleges have been or may be so established
the appropriation hereinafter made to such
State or Territory, shall be equally divided
between such colleges unless the legislature
of such State or Territory shall otherwise
My interpretation and understanding of
this act is that the States, in accordance
with federal law, could have established
experiment stations at the 1890 colleges,
but chose not to do so.
It took more than 75 years before the
1890 institutions received federal funding
for agricultural research and extension.
The initial research funding came as a
result of Public Law 89-106 that was passed
The initial formula funding for research
and extension began in 1972. State matching
was not required until FY 2000. One hundred
percent State matching is not required
until FY 2007.
This delay in funding significantly hindered
the development of the research and extension
programs of the 1890 land-grant institutions.
I believe that one of the dire consequences
of this deficiency was the fact that Black
farmers in the south did not fully benefit
from the expertise and assistance that
could have been provided if these institutions
had been properly funded.
One of the appalling and shameful American
tragedies has been and continues to be
the demise of the Black farmer. For example,
in 1910, there were 218,972 Black farms
in the United States, constituting about
15 million acres of farmland. By 1969,
Black land ownership had declined to about
6 million acres. Today, it is estimated
that there are fewer than 8,000 Black farmers.
Sadly, the decline in the Black farmer
has occurred at three times the rate of
white farmers. The land-grant system, the
respective States, and U.S. Department
of Agriculture all bear some responsibility
for allowing this to happen.
It should also be pointed out that the
1890 land-grant universities tend to be
much smaller in size and less endowed than
the average 1862 land-grant universities.
I do not believe this has happened by choice,
but rather as a result of meager support
for many decades, both by the federal government
and the respective states, that limited
growth and development.
As we look toward the future, two of the
major challenges of land-grant colleges
and universities are:
(1) the increased tension between formula
research funding and competitive research
grant funding and
(2) the call for increased accountability
and relevance of formula funded research.
With regard to the first challenge, it
is interesting to note the series of reports
by the National Research Council (NRC)
of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).
The series of reports began in 1972 and
has been critical of the state of agricultural
research and has advocated funding increases
for competitive grants. In an NAS report
published twenty-eight years later, the
USDA was urged to make competitive grants
a higher priority.
In these series of reports, NAS believed
increased funding would ultimately engender
more high risk research with potentials
for long-term payoffs, attract scientists
outside of the traditional agricultural
disciplines and encourage multidisciplinary
Competitive funding for agricultural research
at USDA was first authorized by Congress
in 1977. It was greatly expanded in FY
1991 when Congress initiated the National
Research Initiative (NRI).
In a 2002 report on publicly funded agricultural
research, the NRC concluded that a major
challenge existed in serving and meeting
the needs of agricultural producers, both
the large commercial producers and the
smaller producers, including limited resource
producers and producers of niche commodities.
The NRC report raised the question: “Is
it (agricultural research) equally accessible
to all users and whether it is targeted
to the full range of users and citizens
That assessment also recommended that
a need exists for better accountability
to the public. The report endorsed the
idea of public participation in order to
meet the needs of stakeholders. You will
recall that a major theme of the Reports
of the Kellogg Commission on the Future
of State and Land-Grant Universities was
engagement with stakeholders in setting
the research and outreach agendas.
In 2003, an NRC Committee on Opportunities
in Agriculture recommended that USDA refocus
its research budget to reflect changing
public values and needs. The report also
encouraged the USDA to shift its emphasis
from increasing food and fiber production
to frontier issues such as the impact of
globalization, diet and health, food safety,
environmentally sound farming alternatives,
and the quality of life in rural communities.
Finally, the NRC report advocated that
more multidisciplinary research is needed
to address many of these issues, especially
involving biophysical and socioeconomic
Several of the recommendations of the
various NRC reports, especially the need
for more accountability, the encouragement
for more interdisciplinary research, and
the need to engage stakeholders in setting
the research agenda, are consistent with
the themes in the reports of the Kellogg
Commission on the future of the State and
The Kellogg Commission Report titled, “Returning
to Our Roots,” recommended that institutional
leaders find new ways of encouraging interdisciplinary
research, teaching, and learning as part
of the engagement agenda. The Report noted
that most of today's technical and scientific
problems, and social challenges will require
cross-disciplinary collaboration and scholarship.
In the Kellogg Commission Report “The
Engaged Institution,” the Commission
provided seven guiding principles to define
an engaged institution. Two of them are
particularly interesting for this discussion.
They are (1) responsiveness and (2) respect
for partners. The first principle advises
us to ask the question: Are we listening
to the communities, regions, and states
we serve? The second principle demands
us to answer the question: Do we respect
the skills and capacities of our partners
in collaborative projects?
I believe that an engaged university will
be more responsive and accountable to its
I learned an impressive, pertinent and
excellent example of the successful involvement
of stakeholders in setting the research
agenda during my participation in the World
Food Prize activities in Des Moines, Iowa
. In an article in the October 12 edition
of The Des Moines Register , the
2005 recipient of the World Food Prize,
Dr. Modadugu V. Gupta, explained how he
used a bottom-up approach to adapt fish-farming
techniques to the abilities and customs
of farmers in India, Bangladesh, Laos,
Dr. Gupta talked with the farmers in these
countries, then developed the technology
to meet the needs of the people who would
use it. The result was high yielding fish-farming
systems in those respective countries.
The bottom line was Dr. Gupta listened
and responded to the stakeholders.
The two challenges I have suggested will
not go away unless we change our approach
to address them. If we do not, then we
can expect support for formula funding,
in particular, will continue to erode and
cease to exist. And this is where we have
a unique opportunity.
I believe that, properly utilized, formula
funded and competitively funded research
are both needed and should complement each
Formula funded research provides more
of an opportunity to conduct applied and
basic research that is relevant to the
particular state or region. Competitive
research grants provide an opportunity
to conduct more cutting edge research that
will provide long-term benefits.
We have an opportunity to change the perception
that much of the formula funded research
is irrelevant to the needs of their respective
communities and states and that it lacks
accountability. I believe that in the case
of formula funded research, we must rethink
our research agendas.
First, we must engage our stakeholders – small
and large producers, limited resource farmers,
people living in rural communities, and
local, county, and state officials – to
ascertain the needs as perceived by these
Second, we must establish research priorities
consistent with the needs identified by
Third, we must seek either partnerships
or collaborations, when appropriate, to
address the identified problems. The use
of partnerships to attack problems will
minimize unnecessary duplication of efforts
and lead to a better utilization of resources
to solve problems of mutual interest.
I especially believe that we should have
more collaboration between the 1862 and
1890 universities that reside within the
same state. This will only work if these
collaborations are characterized by genuine
mutual respect between the partners and
a feeling by both that the partnership
is mutually beneficial.
These partnerships have been minimal in
the past, in part, because of mistrust,
and in part, because the two partners were
not viewed as equals. In my opinion, it
is in our mutual self-interest to make
these partnerships work for the mutual
benefit of both partners.
I also believe that there should be more
collaboration between 1890 universities
and between 1862 universities as a whole,
especially in addressing problems of mutual
And, with respect to collaborations within
the university, we must not restrict ourselves
to disciplines within the College of Agriculture,
but rather should consider the entire university
and involve the disciplines such as social
sciences, natural sciences, business or
management and those that contribute to
solving a particular problem.
Fourth, we must keep our publics informed
about our progress and do so in a way that
is easily understood.
I believe that this engagement approach
will lead to improved research, more relevant
research, better use of resources, and
better accountability to our publics.
In summary, the Hatch Act of 1887 has
a rich legacy; it has contributed to the
development of the world's best agricultural
research enterprise and to our land-grant
colleges and universities. Our land-grant
universities have contributed to the development
of the world's most productive agriculture
This has served us well in the past, but
as we look toward the future, we face new
challenges that offer new opportunities.
To paraphrase the words of the Sixth Report
of the Kellogg Commission on the Future
of State and Land-Grant Universities: we
must renew the covenant between our institutions
and the public to again be “the publics
universities” and to engage in activities
to serve the common good.
Kerr, Norwood Allen. The Legacy: A Centennial
History of the State Agricultural Experiment
Stations 1887-1987. ( Columbia, Missouri:
Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station,
University of Missouri – Columbia,
Mayberry, B. D. The Role of Tuskegee University
in the Origin, Growth and Development of
the Negro Cooperative Extension System
1881-1990. (Tuskegee Institute, Alabama:
Tuskegee University, 1989).
Environmental Working Group Report: Black
Farmers. 2005, Washington, D.C.
National Academy of Sciences. 1972. Report
of the Committee on Research Advisory to
the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Washington,
D.C., National Academy Press, 1972.
National Research Council. Investing
in the National Research Initiative.
Washington, D.C., National Academy Press,
National Research Council. National
Research Initiative: A Vital Grants Program
in Food, Fiber, and Natural Resources
Research. Washington, D.C., National
Academy Press, 2000.
National Research Council. Publicly
Funded Agricultural Research and the
Changing Structure of U.S. Agriculture .
Washington, D.C., National Academy Press,
National Research Council. Frontiers
in Agricultural Research: Food, Health,
Environment, and Communities . Washington,
D.C., National Academy Press, 2002.
Kellogg Commission on the Future of State
and Land-Grant Universities. Third
Report. Returning to Our Roots: The Engaged
Institution. Washington, D.C., National
Association of State Universities and Land-Grant
Kellogg Commission on the Future of State
and Land-Grant Universities. Sixth
Report. Renewing the Covenant: Learning,
Discovery, and Engagement in a New Age
and Different World. Washington, D.C.,
National Association of State Universities
and Land-Grant Colleges, 2000.