UF International Center Commemorates the 150th Anniversary
of the Morrill Act

On July 2, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, a legislative initiative sponsored by Vermont Congressman Justin Smith Morrill that established what we now know as the Land Grant University System. The Morrill Act provided funding for the creation of universities that would focus on "practical" education, particularly agriculture and the mechanical arts (engineering). Of special significance, the legislation provided broad access to higher education for ordinary Americans, the sons and daughters of working class families, at a time when attending a university was only possible for a privileged few. The opportunity for higher education for all was widened by the passage of companion legislation, the Second Morrill Act, in 1890, opening similar educational doors for black Americans. A major premise in the creation of this system is that an educated population drives economic prosperity and good governance. The Land Grant legacy continues to this day, with the Land Grant universities expanding their educational scope across all areas of human inquiry!

The Emergence of the Land Grant University of Today

Today the University of Florida is a prominent member of the select group of 74 Land Grant universities that trace their origins to the Morrill Act. Many of these institutions are among the finest universities in the country. This Academic Year, the University of Florida celebrates its origins by commemoration of our founding roots as a Land Grant university. Since the Morrill Act was signed, the mission of the Land Grant system has expanded beyond classroom education to include a discovery mission (our research dimension) and an outreach mission (service to the state) that engages us with citizens to solve practical everyday problems.

The Land Grant Mission in a Globalized World

We in the UF International Center also celebrate the fact that our geographic focus on Florida has broadened to encompass the globe. We engage with stakeholders around the world in fulfillment of the University of Florida’s mission, which we believe strengthens us as an institution and raises our status to that of “World Class.” Knowledge creation (research) and dissemination (education) are not constrained by lines on a map. Together with global partners in higher education and research, we are making the world a better place. That is the core mission of the Land Grant system in the context of a world class university.

The UF International Center website will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act with interesting facts about our international presence over the years since the founding of the University of Florida. Come back often to learn how we have changed.

For more about the history of the Land Grant system and the Morrill Act, click here.

Morrill Act Commemoration Facts

Chronological

  • Most of UF’s first international students were Cuban students who studied at UF’s forerunner, the Florida Agricultural College in Lake City. The first was Tomas Angel of Havana. Today, UF enrolls over 5,000 international students from over 130 countries, but not one of them is from Cuba. (Osborne, Leigh Ann Bauer, “Through an Open Door? International Students at the University of Florida, 1946-1958” (Master’s diss., University of Florida, 2005), 34.)

  • Peter Henry Rolfs, Dean of the College of Agriculture from 1915 to 1920, founded the Universidade Federal de Viçosa, an agricultural university modeled after the US land grant system, in Brazil. Viçosa’s main administration building is a smaller version of UF’s Tigert Hall.

  • Some of the earliest UF study abroad students spent their Junior year abroad in France with a group from the University of Delaware in the late 1920s-early 1930s. Today, you can study abroad on over 150 exchanges, or many other summer or non-UF programs, in France. (Hullihen, W. “Present Status of the ‘Junior Year Abroad’. The French Review, Vol 1, No. 2 (Jan 1928), pp 25-37, 28)

  • In 1930, John J. Tigert, UF president, announced that the Institute for Inter-American Affairs (now the Center for Latin American Studies), would provide support to international students. (http://www.latam.ufl.edu/About/history.stm)

  • UF’s first international studies center was the Center for Latin American studies, founded in 1931. It was originally called the Institute for Inter-American Affairs, and was the first Latin American studies center in the country. (http://www.latam.ufl.edu/About/history.stm)

  •  Although you may have heard otherwise, the 21 live oaks planted in the Plaza of the Americas represent the 21 republics of the Americas that attended the first Institute for Inter-American Affairs Conference (forerunner to today’s Center for Latin American Studies). (http://www.latam.ufl.edu/About/history.stm).

  • In 1931, the year after the Institute for Inter-American Affairs (now the Center for Latin American Studies), was founded, 13 international students were enrolled at UF, 8 of whom were from Latin America. (http://www.latam.ufl.edu/About/history.stm)

  • One of the first collaborative agreements signed with an international university was with the University of Havana in 1938, with which we continue to maintain scholarly relations with today. We now have nearly 300 such cooperative agreements with institutions all over the world! (http://www.latam.ufl.edu/About/history.stm)

  • World War II took a toll on the number of international students enrolled at UF. The number dropped to just 10 in 1942 (Osborne, 34)

  • After World War II, UF’s president, John J. Tigert, asserted, “After this war, there are going to be new worldwide interests. Education is going to have to expand in order to give us an understanding of the other civilizations of the world, their geography and our relation with them…Not until we can learn to understand and love each other (the peoples of the world) thoroughly through education—and I don’t mean education in schools alone—can we bring about a permanent peace.” This sentiment is still true today. (Pitts, cited in in (Osborne, Leigh Ann Bauer, “Through an Open Door? International Students at the University of Florida, 1946-1958” (Master’s diss., University of Florida, 2005), 37)

  • Due to the influx of domestic students at UF after the passing of the G.I. Bill, severe international enrollment restrictions were put in place from 1945-1947. In 1946, international students made up 0.3 % of the UF student population. However, this number has jumped significantly, firs to 2% in 1958, and then to over 10% (over 5500 students) today. (Osborne, Leigh Ann Bauer, “Through an Open Door? International Students at the University of Florida, 1946-1958” (Master’s diss., University of Florida, 2005), 41, 42)

  • In 1951, UF President John Hillis Miller said, “It is the function of higher education to invade more effectively the field of international relations…Thus far in the development of world civilization, international relations have not brought peace upon earth. The best minds of the country must address themselves to the problems of effective relationships between nations in order to give some promise of security to the human race.” (J. Hillis Miller, “Higher Education and the Problems of this Decade,” The Educational Record 32, no. 4 (1951): 335-349, cited in Osborne, Leigh Ann Bauer, “Through an Open Door? International Students at the University of Florida, 1946-1958” (Master’s diss., University of Florida, 2005)

  • The first incoming Fulbright scholar was Dr. Raphael Braude from the University of Reading in the UK in 1951. His research focused on the fields of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry.

  • The first outgoing Fulbright Scholar was Dr. Sydney Warren in 1949.  He lectured on U.S. history at the University of Durham in northern England. 

  • Ivan J. Putman was hired as UF’s first “Adviser to Foreign Students” in 1952. Today, virtually every college works with international students, and UFIC employs 9 international student advisors and staff members. In a report, Putman summarized the importance of advisors: “His principal objective is to help facilitate the kind of exchange which will be of maximum benefit to all parties concerned in terms of understanding among peoples and development of individual capacities to contribute to human welfare throughout the world.” (Ivan J. Putman, “Annual Report of Adviser to Foreign Students, 1952-1953,” University of Florida Archives, Office of the President, Series P10b: box 14, Reports, Foreign Students, 3, cited in (Osborne, Leigh Ann Bauer, “Through an Open Door? International Students at the University of Florida, 1946-1958” (Master’s diss., University of Florida, 2005), 61  

  • In 1953, an international student organization (ISO) was created to bring international and domestic students at the University of Florida together. Today, this group exists as the NaviGators, which has over 500 student members. (Ivan J. Putman, “Annual Report of Adviser to Foreign Students, 1952-1953,” University of Florida Archives, Office of the President, Series P10b: box 14, Reports, Foreign Students, 3, cited in (Osborne, Leigh Ann Bauer, “Through an Open Door? International Students at the University of Florida, 1946-1958” (Master’s diss., University of Florida, 2005, 61)  

  • In 1965, UF was the first southern university to have a Center for African Studies. Today, it is one of the biggest such centers in the US, and is one of only 12 nationwide. (http://www.africa.ufl.edu/documents/RR2011.pdf)

  • UF’s oldest running academic exchange program is with Universiteit Utrecht in Utrecht, Netherlands. It began in 1972. 15 UF students studied in Utrecht during Summer B 2012, and 5 UF students are studying in Utrecht during the Fall of 2012.

  • The UF International Center was organized in 1991, bringing a variety of internationally-related administrative and programmatic units that had previously been dispersed across campus together at one simple location.

Facts about Today

  • The strategic plan for the University of Florida identifies international activities as a priority. Acting on this component of the Strategic Plan, UF will begin implementation of a Quality Enhancement Plan for internationalization in the Fall of 2014.

  • Campus internationalization is now among the top priorities of most colleges and universities in the United States, a clear indication that higher education has a significant role to play in preparing students for responsible participation in a highly globalized and interconnected world.

  • UFIC maintains an international travel registration page on our website. Annually, more than 2500 faculty and staff register their international travel on the site, helping to extend the Gator Nation to all parts of the world.

  • UFIC currently has the highest number of reciprocal exchange agreements with Brazil (20), followed by Spain (13) and France (12).

  • UF’s largest international student populations originate from India and China. However, UF students come from all over the world, including Kazakhstan, Croatia, and New Zealand.  

  • Most of the international students currently attending UF study engineering or business. Engineering, or “Mechanical Arts”, was one of the fields initially promoted by the Morrill Act.

More

  • Much of UF’s international presence began with international agricultural programs in Central and South America and the Caribbean. For example, Peter Hildebrand from the College of Agriculture was involved in international farming systems, which are farming experiments based on the conditions at a specific location. Dr. Hildebrand is retired, but still involved with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences today.

  • In 1982, the president of Cameroon, Ahmadou Ahidjo, visited UF after IFAS was chosen to administer an institution in Cameroon based on the land grant model of teaching, research, and extension. (http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1320&dat=19820729&id=-jtWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=iukDAAAAIBAJ&pg=3037,4126191)

  • The University of Florida tied with Cleveland State University, Harvard, SUNY-Buffalo, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Washington University for 3rd as a Top-Producing Institution of Fulbright Scholars for 2010-2011 Academic Year, with 6 scholars. (http://www.cies.org/download/Carnegie102510.pdf)

  • For the academic year 2011-12, the University of Florida sent 7 scholars abroad on the Fulbright Program, and ranked 4th along with Indiana University at Bloomington, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and the University of Cincinnati. (http://chronicle.com/article/Top-Producers-of-US/129451/)

  • In the 2011-12 academic year, 10 out of 47 applicants received Fulbright awards, making UF one of the top producers of U.S. Fulbright Students, and the highest ranked school in the SEC. (http://chronicle.com/article/Top-Producers-of-US/129452/)

  • UF serves as the lead institution in the South East Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (SEAGEP). Clemson and the University of South Carolina serve as primary partners. SEAGEP is a comprehensive minority graduate level program offering a variety of support to U.S. citizen or permanent resident students who are pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). To address the need for global experience at the graduate level, the SEAGEP has developed an international project and 3-credit course in collaboration with the University of Florida International Center Program Development unit titled Science & Engineering in the Global Context.