Tennessee Alumnus

Celebrating 150 Years of the Morrill Act

The University of Tennessee is joining a national celebration among public state schools commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act.

The Morrill Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862 to create land-grant universities in the states. Land-grant universities, such as the University of Tennessee, are charged with providing education, research and public service to the people of their states. The advent of land-grant institutions changed the face of higher education in the U.S., allowing average citizens – not just a privileged few — the chance to attend college.

The federal law allocated federal land and funds to selected universities to teach agricultural and mechanical subjects and to train students for military service. UT’s formal designation was delayed until after the Civil War and officially made in 1869. The same year the university, which was at the time called East Tennessee University, changed its name to the University of Tennessee.