JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Lincoln University is an 1890 land grant university, but it wasn't until 2022 that the state 100% matched that land grant, which has been required since 2007.
Lincoln University deferred maintenance and certain projects because the state wasn't matching its land grant for many years. Now, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack are calling on Missouri and 15 other governors to equitably fund Historically Black Universities and Colleges.
The letter listed the governors of Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana , Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
“There are HBCU land-grant institutions in 18 states; however, Delaware and Ohio have equitably funded their respective universities,” the statement reads.
A bipartisan group of Missouri lawmakers requested a committee be formed to investigate any funding disparities Lincoln University may have experienced over the years.
"Although our state has made progress in recent years ensuring Lincoln University is better able to leverage its federal land-grant match, Missouri's historical pattern of shortchanging Lincoln University is well documented," the letter reads.
The letter signed by Rep. Kevin Windham (D-St. Louis), Rep. Donnie Brown (R-New Madrid), Rep. Jamie Burger (R-Benton), Rep. Dave Griffith (R-Jefferson City), Rep. Raychel Proudie (D-St. Louis) and Rep. Rudy Veit (R-Wardsville).
"Lincoln University, especially through its extension program, has an impact on the entire state," Windham said. "So whether that be in southeast Missouri, or whether it be in central Missouri, where they're located, they have the impact all over the state. And that's why we've had a bipartisan and really even I could say bicameral group of folks that really wanted to see Lincoln fully funded."
According to Windham's numbers, the university invested $43.2 million of its own money into keeping its land-grant designation. He believes that money should be paid back to the school, and that now is the time to do it, because the state currently has a surplus. Missouri entered fiscal year 2024 with a nearly $8 billion budget surplus.
"At some point, it's time to stop studying and it's time to put the rubber to the road and really rectify the issue that's been highlighted," Windham said.
LU spokesperson Misty Nunn said the university had to make up for the lack of state funding by putting off projects around campus.
"Lincoln being a historic campus, there are many of our buildings on campus and they're all in good shape," Nunn said. "And we make sure that the buildings are in good shape and safe for anybody. But there are just projects that we just haven't been able to do on many of the buildings back in the past because of that funding deficit."
Nunn said the University doesn't blame anyone currently in office for any possible past discrepancies.
"All of the funding issues that we have had began before any of us were here at Lincoln University and before any of the people that were in office," Nunn said. "And so we were appreciative of the support that we've been able to gain, and we are very helpful moving forward."