What is a land-grant university and why were they created?
The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) defines a land-grant college or university as "an institution that has been designated by its state legislature or Congress to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862, 1890, and 1994." The original Morrill Act of 1862 provided federal funding for the early stages of the University of Nevada, Reno.
Article 11 of the Nevada Constitution establishes the land-grant principles by stating that the public schools, including institutions of higher education, "shall encourage, by all suitable means, the promotion of intellectual, literary, scientific, mining, mechanical, agricultural, and moral improvement."
Prior to the Morrill Acts, colleges and universities were perceived as only for the elite. At its foundation, the land-grant mission is to teach subjects such as agriculture, military tactics, engineering and classical studies. The Morrill Acts were implemented for the purpose of creating access and equal opportunity for individuals in every state and territory of the United States, as well as the District of Columbia. Today, land-grant universities strive to fulfill the democratic mandate for openness, accessibility and service.
Source: The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU)
Free speech, inclusion, and the land-grant mission
"Free speech is the lifeblood of our democracy. It is the foundation of academic inquiry. And it is essential to the educational experience and part of our commitment to provide a robust learning environment for an increasingly diverse student body. Public universities firmly believe their students should be exposed to an array of ideas and opinions - not only those with which they agree, but also those that challenge their perspectives and worldview. Any attempt to limit the free exchange of ideas is an affront to our shared values as Americans."
Source: Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, June 2017