The letters, signed by U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack, were sent to governors in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Cardona and Vilsack cited National Center for Education Statistics data that shows a significant funding disparity of approximately $12.6 billion between historically Black land-grant institutions and their predominantly White counterparts from 1987 to 2020. Of the 18 states with historically Black land-grant schools, only Delaware and Ohio provide equitable funding.
The letters underscored that closing the funding gap would have improved infrastructure, student services, and research competitiveness for these historically Black colleges and universities, ultimately strengthening their ability to serve students, states, and the nation.
“Unacceptable funding inequities have forced many of our nation’s distinguished historically Black colleges and universities to operate with inadequate resources and delay critical investments in everything from campus infrastructure to research and development to student support services,” Cardona said in a statement. “To compete in the 21st century we need state leaders to step up and live up to their legally required obligations to our historically Black land-grant institutions.”
The schools mentioned in the letters were established under the Morrill Acts, which granted states land for the creation of public universities. However, due to the exclusion of Black students from these institutions, the second Morrill Act stipulated that states either admit them on an equal basis or establish separate land-grant schools for them. These historically Black land-grant institutions include:
- Alabama A&M University
- University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
- Florida A&M University
- Fort Valley State University
- Kentucky State University
- Southern University and A&M College
- University of Maryland Eastern Shore
- Alcorn State University
- Lincoln University
- Langston University
- South Carolina State University
- Tennessee State University
- Prairie View A&M University
- Virginia State University
- North Carolina A&T State University