News and Events Archive

A Century Beyond the Campus: Past, Present, and Future of Extension at West Virginia University (2014-09-11)

A Research Symposium to Mark the 100th Anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act
September 24 – 25, 2014
Waterfront Place Hotel
Morgantown, WV

A century ago, the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 established the United States Cooperative Extension System, a partnership of the Department of Agriculture, land-grant colleges, and state and local governments. This historic legislation provided federal support to land-grant colleges in “cooperation with the Department of Agriculture … in order to aid in diffusing among the people of the United States useful and practical information . . .” The Smith-Lever Act was the culmination of years of fledgling outreach efforts by land-grant colleges to extend the educational, social, and economic benefits of higher education beyond the campus to serve the people. County extension agents and land-grant extension faculty delivered scientific knowledge and new technology, promoted local education, health and wellness programs, provided life-long learning, engaged in community development, and reoriented land-grant colleges as a public good.

This centennial symposium provides an opportunity for scholars to consider the legacy, present condition, and future directions of cooperative extension, as well as the engagement mission of public higher education.

The event kicks off September 24th with an afternoon poster session, evening welcome reception, and the 2014 C. Peter Magrath Lecture, featuring West Virginia University's former president C. Peter Magrath, president Emeritus David C. Hardesty, Jr., and current president E. Gordon Gee sharing their unique perspectives on the Cooperative Extension Service and its role in fulfilling the land-grant mission.

The celebration continues all day Thursday with sessions from scholars across the country presenting research and discussing the the importance of the Smith-Lever Act to higher education and the future impact of the Cooperative Extension Service. The keynote address will be given by Rachel Tompkins, senior fellow at the Rural Schools and Community Trust and former vice provost for extension and public service at West Virginia University.

For the schedule of events, see:

Questions may be directed to the Office of University Events at or 304-293-7132.

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