The Land-Grant Mission in the 21st century: the power of public service

OSU’s Statewide Public Service Programs improve the lives of Oregonians

The public service of learning, discovery, and engagement has never been more important than now. With the global challenge to provide food and livelihood for 9 billion people and the local challenge to sustain quality of life in Oregon, we have much to learn from the land-grant mission. This mission directs Oregon State University to serve the people of Oregon, listen to their concerns, and respond with new solutions and opportunities based on cutting-edge science.

OSU’s Statewide Public Service Programs are central to that mission, with an unwavering commitment to understand the social, economic, and environmental issues locally and globally, to research ways to address those issues, and to engage the public with solutions.

These three public service programs—OSU Extension Service, Oregon’s Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Forest Research Laboratory—are each mandated by separate, long-standing federal legislation that call for three-way partnerships among federal, state, and local entities.

The idea of research and education in the service of the people began with the Morrill Act of 1862 that created the nation’s land-grant university system during the height of the American Civil War. In 1887, the need for on-the-ground research to improve American agriculture led to the Hatch Act that created a national network of Agricultural Experiment Stations. In 1914, the need for educational outreach to communities led to the Smith-Lever Act that established the Cooperative Extension Service in every state. And in 1962, the need for science-based research of the nation’s forests led to the McIntire-Stennis Act that created the Forest Research Laboratory. Today, the state’s contributions to these three Statewide Public Service Programs are funded by separate line items in the Oregon budget, matched by federal and local funds.

Through these three statewide programs, OSU focuses the power of science to address emerging issues important to Oregon communities, families, and industries. With faculty stationed in every county of the state, working in their communities to solve problems at the local level, OSU embodies engaged, responsive research and learning. The state truly is our campus.

OSU is a global leader in natural resource and life science research, and OSU Extension puts that research to work for decision-makers, industry and education partners, families, and individuals, to improve the quality of life and livelihoods across Oregon and the world.


Mission of OSU’s Statewide Public Service Programs »