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Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Chairman K. Michael Conaway Committee on Agriculture Hearing: 1890 Land-Grant Institutions: Recruitment Challenges and Scholarship Opportunities

Remarks as prepared:

Good morning.

Today we will discuss one of the Committee’s longest standing areas of jurisdiction—agricultural research universities. More specifically, we will hear from our “1890s” institutions—the land grant colleges and universities for African-American students established pursuant to the Second Morrill Act of 1890 (pronounced moral).

Last July, we held a hearing to celebrate the 125thanniversary of 1890 universities and the contributions they have made and continue to make to the agricultural industry in the United States. Today, we will build on that discussion and explore challenges that the 1890s face in recruiting students to careers in agriculture.

There is currently an unmet demand for highly-skilled jobs within the agricultural industry. The 1890s have recognized the opportunity that such a gap presents for graduates with degrees in agricultural studies, and they are focusing efforts on generating greater interest in the agricultural programs within their respective schools.

Today, we will start by hearing from a panel of my fellow congressmen who have sponsored H.R. 6020, the Funding for Student Scholarships for the 1890 Land-Grant African-American Colleges and Universities Act. As my colleagues will explain, this bill would allocate scholarships to 1890 universities for students interested in food and agricultural sciences.

For our second panel, the Committee will hear from the presidents of three of those schools about the challenges they have faced in recruiting African-American students to agricultural areas of study, as well as their suggestions for moving forward.
While only three of the 1890s presidents will testify this morning, we are fortunate that presidents (or their representatives) from several of the other 1890 universities are in attendance today, and I would like to recognize them at this time:

In addition to our witnesses, we have joining us:

Dr. Makola Abdullah, President of Virginia State University
Dr. Anthony Jenkins, President of West Virginia State University
Dr. Larry Robinson, Interim President of Florida A&M University
Dr. Kirk Pomper, Director of Land Grant Programs at Kentucky State University
Dr. Albert Essel, Director of Cooperative Research & 1890 Administrator, Lincoln University
Mr. Zachary Faison, General Counsel and Vice President for External Affairs, Tuskegee University
Dr. Antoine Alston, Associate Dean for the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, North Carolina A&T State University
And finally,
Mr. Tony Wells, Previous President of the Alumni Association, Tennessee State University
If there are others in the audience that I didn’t mention by name, please know that the Committee values your contributions. It is now my pleasure to recognize the Ranking Member for any comments he wishes to make.