Va. governor rejects claim of underfunding Virginia State University
Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration denies that the commonwealth has underfunded the historically Black Virginia State University compared to the state’s other land-grant institution, Virginia Tech after federal officials estimated VSU is owed over $277 million in state funding from 1987 to 2020.
To calculate that figure, the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture used a database that the administration says has “well-documented issues.” In a letter to the federal agencies, Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera wrote that the commonwealth funded Virginia State “well above” Virginia Tech on a per-student basis, according to state data.
“The Commonwealth has met its obligations for our 1862 and 1890 land-grant institutions,” Guidera wrote. “Our administration will continue to work tirelessly to improve outcomes at all of our institutions and to prepare students for success.”
Last month, the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture sent letters to the governors of 16 states, including Gov. Youngkin, asking them to address underfunding for HBCU land-grant institutions such as Virginia State University.
In 1862, the Morrill Land-Grant Act, which helped create Virginia Tech, allowed states to establish public agricultural, mechanical and engineering colleges using proceeds from the development or sale of federal lands. The U.S. seized many of those lands from Native American communities.
When federal lawmakers saw that some colleges barred African Americans from enrolling, they created The Second Morrill Act of 1890, requiring states to establish separate land-grant institutions for Black students or demonstrate that admission to an 1862 land-grant school was not restricted by race.
In 1890, Virginia State University became the state’s second land-grant institution, intended for Black students. Virginia Tech did not admit any Black students until 1953.
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