Flagships and Land-Grants

Many states are set up with flagship and land-grant universities. Virginia has VT and UVA, South Carolina has USC and Clemson, and my home state of North Carolina features UNC and North Carolina State University. This makes a significant impact on the goals and future of these universities. Take the following statements:

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (http://www.unc.edu/ugradbulletin/mission.html)

“The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, serves North Carolina, the United States, and the world through teaching, research, and public service. We embrace an unwavering commitment to excellence as one of the world’s great research universities.

Our mission is to serve as a center for research, scholarship, and creativity and to teach a diverse community of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students to become the next generation of leaders. Through the efforts of our exceptional faculty and staff, and with generous support from North Carolina’s citizens, we invest our knowledge and resources to enhance access to learning and to foster the success and prosperity of each rising generation. We also extend knowledge-based services and other resources of the University to the citizens of North Carolina and their institutions to enhance the quality of life for all people in the State.

With lux, libertas—light and liberty—as its founding principles, the University has charted a bold course of leading change to improve society and to help solve the world’s greatest problems.

Approved by the UNC Board of Governors, November 2009″


North Carolina State University (http://catalog.ncsu.edu/undergraduate/aboutus/)

“As a research-extensive land-grant university, North Carolina State University is dedicated to excellent teaching, the creation and application of knowledge, and engagement with public and private partners. By uniting our strength in science and technology with a commitment to excellence in a comprehensive range of disciplines, NC State promotes an integrated approach to problem solving that transforms lives and provides leadership for social, economic, and technological development across North Carolina and around the world.

Approved by the NC State University Board of Trustees, 4/22/11″


While I graduated from N.C. State with a bachelor of arts, the university seems to be more aligned with practical science and technology support for it’s undergraduates. It is an institution remarkably similar to Virginia Tech in size and emphasis on engineering, but with maybe a stronger emphasis on agriculture and the natural sciences.

UNC (and UVA) features a medical school, but also emphasizes its law school prominence. Most NC legislators hold degrees in law from UNC. Its mission statement makes room for the humanities that may help shape future leaders, in the fashion of a true university instead of an A&T college (which N.C. State was considered for a long period of time).

From these mission statements, a clear definition is made. I would expect to find a similar distinction between schools in the other states I mentioned.

What’s next for the relationship between old flagships and relatively new land-grants? Before I left North Carolina I remember hearing about curriculum consolidation that would take both of these universities back to colleges within a larger statewide University system (the UNC system beyond Chapel Hill is set up for a quick modification towards this goal). Could this save money? Would it be good for the students? (I always enjoyed the interaction between art and science at N.C. State.) And why did the medical schools never transition to the land-grant universities which may provide more resources?

-A.G. Hughes