In the century since it was created by the Smith-Lever Act, the Extension Service has changed and grown along with the nation it was created to serve. The West Virginia University Extension Service has been a leader in helping create a 21st Century service.

To celebrate the past and look to the future, three WVU presidents with strong ties to the University’s land-grant mission will highlight a two-day research symposium entitled Century Beyond the Campus: Past, Present, and Future of Extension.

Current WVU President Gordon Gee and President Emeritus and current Professor of Law David C. Hardesty Jr., who served as chair of the National 4-H Council during his tenure, and former interim President C. Peter Magrath will each give their unique perspective and insight on the role Extension Service plays in fulfilling the land-grant mission.

Nathan Sorber, assistant professor and coordinator of WVU’s higher education administration program in the College of Education and Human Services, will moderate the discussion. Sorber is the author of The Land-grant Colleges and the Shaping of American Higher Education.”

“At West Virginia University, and most land-grant institutions, Extension is the front door of the university for many people, ” Gee said. “Next to the Morrill Act creating land-grants, the Smith-Lever Act is perhaps the second most significant legislation ever passed, and has helped improve people’s lives for 100 years.

“West Virginia University is a leader in creating a modern Extension Service, and this forum will help to celebrate the rich history and future vision of our Extension Service.

The president’s panel will kick off the symposium at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, at The Waterfront hotel. During registration, which begins at 1 p.m., there will be an Extension Exhibit, featuring posters and exhibits from various WVU Extension educators.

On Thursday, Sept. 25, the research symposium will continue with discussions from researchers and scholars from a myriad of institutions including WVU, Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Maryland, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Maine, the University of Rhode Island, the University of Arkansas, Mississippi State University, Iowa State University, Texas Christian University and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. These researchers will focus on the importance of the Smith-Lever Act and the future impact of the Cooperative Extension Service.

Rachel Tompkins, senior fellow at the Rural Schools and Community Trust and former vice provost for extension and public service at WVU, will give the keynote address at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 25.

There is no cost, but registration is required.



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