U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman is the cosponsor of a resolution that passed the Senate on Thursday night celebrating the 150th anniversary of the law that led to outstanding land-grant institutions such as New Mexico State University.
In 1862 Congress passed, and then-President Abraham Lincoln signed, the Morrill Act which made each state eligible to receive 30,000 acres of federal land to fund educational institutions. Under the law, there would be an "opportunity in every State for a liberal and larger education to larger numbers, not merely to those destined to sedentary professions, but to those needing higher instruction for the world's business, for the industrial pursuits and professions of life."
NMSU was made a land-grant institution in 1889 through the establishment of the Agricultural College and Experiment Station. The Agricultural College officially opened in 1890 under the name The New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. It was the first degree awarding institution in the territory.
"NMSU is one of the premier universities in the southwest," Bingaman said. "It is fitting to celebrate and acknowledge the 150-year old law that led to its founding."
Land-grant institutions and other public research universities in the United States educate more than 5 million students and award nearly 1 million degrees annually as well as perform more than $37 billion worth of research each year.