MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University has established a center to examine the future of land-grant institutions like WVU, which was established 155 years ago during the Civil War.

Its scheduled launch is Thursday with a panel discussion including education experts from Ohio State University, Penn State and Vanderbilt.

According to WVU, the center will serve as a hub for researchers examining the challenge of accessible public higher education with decreased public funding and “a palpable disconnect between higher education and the people.”

It will publish an annual report on factors like financial access, engagement, faculty and students.

The land grant system began in 1862 with the Morrill Act, giving states public lands to establish at least one college to teach agriculture and the mechanical arts.

Each state has at least one.

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