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National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges

Purpose and History of Association, Governance and Membership

The National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC) is an organization of more than 200 public universities, land-grant colleges, and state university systems. Within this constituency, seventy-five are land-grant colleges, including seventeen historically black public colleges and universities, and twenty-eight are public higher education systems. Thirty tribal colleges are represented through the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC).

Purpose and History of Association

The NASULGC has major interests in graduate education, research, and international education. The members' composition of mostly public institutions generates the association's policy interests in agriculture, economic development, and technology transfer. The NASULGC institutions annually grant one-third of the bachelor's and master's degrees and award 60 percent of the doctoral degrees in the United States. Seventy percent of U.S. engineering degrees are from NASULGC institutions.

Founded in 1887 as the Association of American Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations (AAACES), NASULGC is the oldest national association of institutions of higher education. The AAACES went through several name changes: the Association of Land-Grant Colleges (ALGC) in 1919; then the Association of Land-Grant Colleges and Universities (ALGCU) in 1926; before merging with National Association of State Universities (NASU), started in 1896, and the State Universities Association (SUA), founded in 1930, to form the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges in 1963. The three organizations had overlapping memberships and similar interests but were competitive with each other for many years before a merger was effected.

The Association of Land-Grant Colleges and Universities (ALGCU) created a Washington, D.C., office in 1945, with Russell Thackrey as the full-time executive secretary, a position he held through the merger to 1969. After sharing headquarters on Massachusetts Avenue and One Dupont Circle with a number of other higher education associations since 1952, NASULGC moved to New York Avenue in 1998 to occupy a building it had purchased with three other higher education associations. The president of the association presides over a staff of forty.

The NASULGC shares with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) not only a public institution base but also mutual interests in promoting low tuition policies and equal educational opportunities for everyone who can benefit from a college education. Together, NASULGC and AASCU supported a bill favoring direct lending in the 1990s, and NASULGC was alone among the major Washington, D.C., associations in lobbying for national service legislation. A change in the association's bylaws in 1992 allowed most members of AASCU to become members of NASULGC. The two organizations had a history of working together over many decades. The land-grant association shares with the Association of American Universities (AAU) a longtime interest in graduate education and research, and the two organizations often cooperate in lobbying Congress on matters of mutual interest. The NASULGC is a member of the American Council on Education (ACE) and a member of the Big Six, an informal group of Washington, D.C.-based higher education associations whose members reflect the interests of most American higher education institutions.

The NASULGC has a special commitment, through its Office for the Advancement of Public Black Colleges, to promote historically black land-grant institutions and to aid urban universities in building their capacity to deal with urban interests and issues. In 1994 land-grant status was given to 30 tribal colleges, institutions now represented in NASULGC through their membership in the AIHEC.

Governance and Membership

The NASULGC's basic governing body is its Board of Directors, which consists of representatives from the organization's councils and commissions, six president/chancellor representatives, and three elected officers.

Although NASULGC is primarily a president's association, the organization's ten councils offer the opportunity for provosts, vice presidents, deans, presidents/chancellors, and presidents' spouses to interact with persons in similar roles in other institutions and to participate in the governance and other activities of the association. The six commissions of the organization deal with broad policy issues related to the environment, social change, information technology, international affairs, technology transfer, and urban affairs.

Like other associations, NASULGC maintains an extensive information network to keep its members informed and involved in the activities and issues that concern public higher education at the national, state, and local levels. Its Office of Public Affairs deals with media relations, produces and distributes NASULGC publications, including New-sline, a newsletter published ten times per year, which keeps members informed on legislation, NASULGC programs, and other items of interest.


COOK, CONSTANCE EWING. 1998. Lobbying for Higher Education: How Colleges and Universities Influence Federal Policy. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.

NASULGC 2001: People and Programs. 2001. Washington, DC: NASULGC Office of Public Affairs.




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