Congress members pledge to push for Central State

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Central State University’s ongoing effort to establish itself as a land grant school — giving the historically black institution access to millions of dollars more in federal funding — was stalled last month when the U.S. House of Representatives voted down the Farm Bill, which carried an amendment supporting to school.

Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Cleveland, called the failed Farm Bill “a setback, but one that can be overcome.” She told the newspaper she is working with Reps. Joyce Beatty, D-Columbus, and Mike Turner, R-Dayton to help Central State become Ohio’s second land grant institution. State lawmakers have already supported the idea, saying it will “right a wrong” done in 1892, when the state instead gave the support to Ohio State University because Ohio did not segregate students.

Beatty, Fudge, Turner and Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati supported an amendment in the bill that would have “facilitated an ongoing dialogue of this issue,” according to Turner’s office. The bill failed on June 20, though, including no votes by Beatty and Fudge (who opposed cuts to food stamps) and Chabot, who could not be reached for comment.

Beatty said she and her peers will “continue to push for and strive for Central State to become a land grant university.”

“It’s important for Central State to join the other 18 historically black land grant universities, because it makes a difference when you talk about research and when talk about education,” Beatty said. “It’s not only good for Central State and the students, but it’s also good for this great state of Ohio.”

Fudge said the additional resources Central State would receive would increase “the opportunity for minority students to seek rewarding careers in agriculture.”

Turner said Central State has a strong legacy and commitment to the education of Ohioans. “Becoming a land grant institution will both recognize that commitment as well as to strengthen it for years to come,” he said.

Central State has the support of The Council of 1890 Universities to become a land grant school, said John Michael Lee Jr, vice president at the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities. It will be the first time a school has been added since 1994, he said.

“Central State has a very unique situation because they actually applied for the land grant status before and were denied at that point by the state,” he said.