Last week was the last week of WVU’s GDI Boot Camp held on Evansdale Campus & the Health Sciences Campus. During that time we had the opportunity to learn about the history of West Virginia University, and I thought I’d share a little bit about what I learned!
The history of WVU dates back to 1862, when the Morrill Act was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln on July 2nd, 1862. The Morrill Act granted a piece of land to each state, to use for an institution of higher learning, that would give back to the state– a “Land Grant” university. A land-grant institution is an institution that has been designated by its state legislature or Congress to receive unique federal support. Its a public university build from federal land granted to states to build public universities. These public universities were supposed to offer education for the working class- agriculture & mechanics (ie: Texas A&M) and military tactics…not just Latin, Greek, and other “upper-class” areas of study. There are over 130 colleges & universities that are land-grand institutions, in every state, territory, and even Washington, D.C. (did you know there are also space-grant, sea-grant, and sun-grant universities?). All of these land-grant institutions have a mission that focuses on education, research, and extension. Extension “extends” the knowledge and research from the university into the community, state, and general society so that the educational benefits of the university extend beyond just the students.
The piece of land that was granted to West Virginia was actually a piece of land in Minnesota and Northern Iowa, so the land was sold and the proceeds from that sale were used for WVU. West Virginia University & West Virginia State University are both land-grant universities in West Virginia, however WVU (founded in 1867) is the flagship university for the state. There are 30,000 students at WVU, with a record 5,200 freshman entering this fall.
WVU is divided into 13 “colleges/schools” with related degrees in each college. The Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design is home to 1800-1900 students at WVU. The Davis College includes the study of all the basic needs of humans– food, clothing, and shelter. The 5 divisions include Animal & Nutrition Sciences, Design & Merchandising, Forestry & Natural Resources, Plant & Soil Sciences, & Resource Management. The Human Nutrition & Foods program (home to the dietetic internship) is in the division of Animal & Nutritional Sciences, along with Biochemistry and Animal & Nutritional Sciences. Together the division of Animal & Nutritional Sciences is home to 77 graduate students this fall. Human Nutrition & Foods (HNF) hasn’t always been housed in the Animal & Nutritional Sciences division. About 6 years ago HNF was in Family & Consumer Sciences, but was moved into the Animal & Nutritional Sciences division because the university wanted to group together all the students who studied the role of nutrients in the body– whether that be a human or a cow. After all “humans are animals, too!”
An example of how the students in Animal & Nutritional Sciences work together is graduate seminar. Graduate seminar is a class that meets 1-2 times a week during the semester. At the beginning of class, faculty & students vote on a topic for seminar (last semester it was Gut Health & Microbes), and each week a different graduate student presents a seminar (powerpoint, abstract) on a specific topic. Mine was entitled “The efficacy of Bifidobacteria infantis 35624 in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.” The topic of Gut Health & Microbes allowed us to choose whether to focus on human nutrition, animal nutrition, or biochemistry, depending on our personal interests or how much we wanted to challenge ourself by learning about something we knew nothing about previously (such as horses).