Session S3c (Monday, 2pm, Paterno 104)

P235: University of Illinois and the Morrill Act

Vera Mainz (University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign, USA)

The Morrill Land Grant College Act, passed in 1862, enabled the state of Illinois to found the Illinois Industrial University in Urbana in 1867.  In addition to the required education in agriculture, engineering and military tactics, the first President of the University, Dr. John Milton Gregory, believed that the function of the University should be much broader and include courses in other branches of learning, specifically those we now associate with the Liberal Arts.  Chemistry courses were part of the curriculum from the beginning.  In 1868, then President Gregory declared in his first annual report, “It is especially important that an appropriation should be made to fit up, at once, a chemical laboratory.”  This was at a time when only a handful of American institutions had even rudimentary chemical laboratory space.  This talk will discuss how the study of chemistry prospered at the University of Illinois (the name was changed in 1885).  Without the Morrill Act, the state of Illinois might have waited many years for the birth of the institution which has since become one of the greatest public universities in the country.

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