Separate & unequal
How Lincoln's land grant woes hurt Missouri's small farmers
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.—Lincoln University is one of only two non-defunct historically black colleges in the state.
George R. Smith College in Sedalia was attended by famous ragtime musician Scott Joplin and other notable alumni until a fire caused the school to shut its doors for good.
Although Lincoln has had no such catastrophe, for historically-black schools, funding has been and remains to be a challenge that does not allow for top-edge technology, spaces of learning and the peace of mind that a financial safety-net provides.
Lincoln now finds itself at a pivotal point in its history. Decreasing enrollment, heightened competition from other institutions and deep cuts from local and federal governments are posing threats to the school's prosperous existence.
For those dependent on Lincoln for assistance, such as a thriving small-scale farming community in the immediate area around the University, help is becoming harder to find. Pam Schmutzler grows kale, carrots, peas, tomatoes and more in the greenhouse she helped build with a $10,000 loan from Lincoln. Although she is no longer in need of assistance and has established her operation, the same cannot be said for other beginning farmers.
Since 2000, Lincoln hasn't received even half of the required appropriations from the state to be able to fully fund its land-grant mission, which supports the school's agricultural research and extension programs. As of fiscal year 2018, Lincoln is only receiving $3.19 million from the state — about a $3.87 million deficit of the required $7.06 million as determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to Sandy Koetting, Lincoln's chief financial officer.
The land-grant mission of MU, Missouri's other and first land-grant institution, is funded through a different process — and has received its required allotment in the same time period.
"We've created a dual system within the land-grant community, and it doesn't work," said John Michael Lee, Jr., former vice president of the Office for Access and Success at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
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