August 28, 2014 | By: Carl Nathe

 While we are getting ready to celebrate the Sesquicentennial, the 150th birthday of the University of Kentucky, it is important to remember that the 'roots' of the institution in large measure can be found in the land itself, as in agriculture.

Three years before the founding of what we now know as UK in 1865, the Morrill Land-Grant College Act of 1862 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. The legislation alloted to the states profits from the sale of western lands. These profits were to be used to establish higher education programs, particularly in the practical and applied sciences, including agriculture.

The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky (later the University of Kentucky) found its permanent home in Lexington in 1865, after Kentucky University Regent John Bryan Bowman purchased Henry Clay's Ashland and J.B. Tilford's Woodlands estates. It was not until 1881 that William Ashbrook Kellerman was hired as the first full-time professor of agriculture after the Kentucky General Assembly authorized a half-cent property tax to support the establishment of an Agricultural Department.

"What we now call our UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment has established a long and proud tradition of excellence with respect to our integrated land-grant missions of teaching, research, and service through extension," said Nancy Cox, who became the first woman to serve as dean of the college on Jan. 1, 2014. "We have a productive and dedicated faculty and staff who educate students to prepare for almost every career path."

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Carl Nathe, 859-257-3200