Measuring the Public Value of a Land-Grant University

Courtney A. Meyers, Tracy A. Irani
2011 Journal of Applied Communications  
Land-grant institutions are dependent on public funding to achieve their tripartite mission of teaching, research, and extension. This public support or the "public value" for land-grant institutions is crucial for the continued development and improvement of services and programs. The purpose of this study was to gather the perceptions and opinions of the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences' (IFAS) key stakeholders regarding its public value. The sample (N =
more » ... The sample (N = 707) included community leaders and agricultural producers across the state. Nearly two-thirds had used IFAS programs or services and the majority reported being either very familiar or somewhat familiar with IFAS. Public value was measured using a constructed index. Results found that respondents who used IFAS programs or services provided a higher public value score than those who had not. Also, as respondents indicated higher levels of familiarity, the public value score increased. The type of respondent (i.e. producer or leader) was not a significant predictor of public value score. Overall, respondents indicated the most support for teaching, followed by research and extension. The results from this study provide justif ication for the continued support of IFAS programs and services. To ensure continued success, more must be done to encourage support for the three areas of IFAS among stakeholder groups. Future research should be conducted in other states to assess the public value of land-grant institutions and each component of the tripartite mission. Land-grant institutions are dependent on public funding to achieve their tripartite mission of teaching, research, and extension. This public support or the "public value" for land-grant institutions is crucial for the continued development and improvement of services and programs. The purpose of this study was to gather the perceptions and opinions of the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences' (IFAS) key stakeholders regarding its public value. The sample (N = 707) included community leaders and agricultural producers across the state. Nearly two-thirds had used IFAS programs or services and the majority reported being either very familiar or somewhat familiar with IFAS. Public value was measured using a constructed index. Results found that respondents who used IFAS programs or services provided a higher public value score than those who hac not. Also, as respondents indicated higher levels of familiarity, the public value score increased. The type of respondent (i.e. producer or leader) was not a signif icant predictor of public value score. Overall, respondents indicated the most support for teaching, followed by research and extension. The results from this study provide justif ication for the continued support of IFAS programs and services. To ensure continued success, more must be done to encourage support for the three areas of IFAS among stakeholder groups. Future research should be conducted in other states to assess the public value of land-grant institutions and each component of the tripartite mission. Agriculture has a long-standing tradition of valuing information and technology transfer -it is the basis of the land-grant system itself. But the dawning of the information age and the knowledge economy has changed the needs of rural citizens, stakeholders and society as a whole. In addition to safe and secure food production systems, members of the general public now must look to the land grant for solutions to a wide variety of complex problems, such as the growing need for information-literate citizens and globally-ready graduates, more sustainable agricultural production, environmentally sound stewardship of natural resources, ongoing development of rural citizens, and greater provision of economic opportunity. While many believe the land-grant system remains uniquely positioned to address these needs and provide innovative solutions, doing so today requires the ability to generate a sense of the value of its programs and services among its many publics-both traditional and nontraditional (Kellogg, 1999). When land-grant institutions were first established by the Morrill Act of 1862, they were intended to provide education in common professions of the time such as agriculture, home economics, and mechanical arts. In following years, the establishment of agricultural experiment stations (Hatch Act of 1887) and the cooperative extension service (Smith-Lever Act of 1914) further emphasized the
doi:10.4148/1051-0834.1177 fatcat:5kd3yhfej5b3bhfxc6jyvh7fty