Facts About ARD

The Association     PhilosophyResearch Focus Areas
The Institutions     MissionStrategic Five-Year Goal
VisionPlanning Goals 
Agricultural Research ProgramsThe Federal-State Partnership   External Factors Impacting Planning       

The Association of Research Directors (ARD),Inc.

The Association of Research Directors (ARD), Inc. is a federation of eighteen (18) autonomous land-grant universities (including Tuskegee University), that provides coordination of research initiatives among member 1890 Institutions in cooperation with federal, state and private partners. The ARD partners with USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and holds membership in the State Agricultural Experiment Station System (SAES) of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU). The Association also cooperates with other appropriate regional and national committees and organizations on initiatives affecting the food and agricultural research needs of the nation.

The Institutions

Educational institutions in the United States, as in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, were strongly elitist, with little access for members of working class families. By the middle of the 19th century, there emerged strong socioeconomic and political pressures for a more pragmatic form of education to be accessible to the masses. This development led to the establishment of the National Land-Grant System under the first Morrill Act signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1862. Its primary tenet was that all Americans should have equal access to higher education and occupations in agriculture and the industrial and mechanical arts. This land-grant system was further strengthened in 1887 by the passage of the Hatch Act, which established experiment stations for research at each land-grant institution; and in 1914 by the passage of the Smith-Lever Act, which established Cooperative Extension at each of the same.

In 1865, nearly four million hard-working, but primarily illiterate and untrained blacks were set free from slavery. Although it was in the best interest of the nation to set a course of education for this group, little attention was paid to their needs. Entrenched resistance to providing opportunities to this segment of society not only set in, but prevailed. To satisfy the need for additional funds to support instruction at land-grant institutions that had been established in 1862, Congress passed the second Morrill Act of 1890. With the industrial revolution taking shape and there being a need for educational reforms, Congress wisely included a stipulation in the second Morrill Act that African Americans were to be included in the U.S. higher educational system without discrimination. This requirement was partially addressed by the seventeen southern and border states by founding at least a second land-grant institution in each, which would be accessible to African Americans, as set forth in the Act. These institutions became known as the “Negro Land-Grant Institutions,” now more commonly known as the 1890 Land-Grant Universities and Tuskegee University, or the 1890s, which include Tuskegee.

Agricultural Research Programs

Federal formula funding of agricultural research at the 1890 Land-Grant Universities and Tuskegee University was initiated through provisions of Public Law 89-106. The funds were five-year grants administered via the 1862 Institutions. Direct appropriation to support agricultural research at the eligible 1890 Institutions was started with passage of The Farm Bill of 1977 (Section 1445), at the rate of an annual amount of not less than 15% of the federal funds provided to the 1862 Institutions under the Hatch Act of 1887. (In the 2002 Farm Bill the 15% was increased to not less than 25% and in 2008 the increase became 30%.) Section 1445 of the Farm Bill (PL95-113) was later identified as the Evans-Allen Program, the name that it carries today. This nomenclature was chosen in honor of Representative Frank Evans of Colorado and Senator James B. Allen of Alabama, co-sponsors of the original bill. Subsequent federal legislation in 1982, 1987, 1992, 1998, and 2002 Farm Bills provided funds for the 1890 Land-Grant Universities for agricultural research and extension facilities, capacity building and academic programs.

On a yearly basis the ARD reviews the documentation of its strategic planning in order to provide a comprehensive road map for the Research Directors whose primary goal is to pass a legacy of  discovery to the next generation through viable research programs focused on societal needs.  The goals of such programs include:

  • Safer foods, better nutrition, and greater access to food for all Americans
  • An improved quality of life for all rural and urban residents, but especially those with limited resources
  • Cleaner air and water and better protection of the natural resource base and wildlife, with attention to agro-security measures
  • Increased diversity within the human resource capital, which is essential to this nation’s vitality and productivity
  • Health and wellness promotion, particularly obesity prevention
  • Biosecurity


Although established during times of great suffering and struggle for African Americans, the 1890 Land-Grant Universities survived and were productive, despite overwhelming odds, due to the commitment and vision of many African American leaders within higher education and some white visionary supporters. The same spirit of sacrifice and concern for students and communities, exhibited by African American leaders of 1890 Land-Grant Universities, embraces the faculty and administrators today. This spirit, derived from the democratic philosophy of these institutions and the conditions of their founding, is respected world-wide. The general philosophy of the 1890 administration boldly asserts that men and women of talent and ability, regardless of their socioeconomic condition, can contribute to the common good through hard work and the opportunity to develop and prosper.

Over the past century, the food, agricultural science and natural resource research programs, curricula and cooperative extension programs at the 1890 Universities have evolved into complex and specialized programs of advanced science and technology. Today we espouse the philosophy of building opportunities for all citizens to take advantage of the rich diversity of society and to tackle the challenges and opportunities of a technologically advanced world, while contributing to the common good of all people.


The ARD is integrally involved in creating a society where all people have opportunities for wholesome living and learning through responsible pursuits of their goals and aspirations. To accomplish this, the food and agricultural research mission of the ARD is to:

  • Provide visionary and enlightened leadership to member institutions as they continuously address issues impacting their ability to accomplish the food and agricultural research challenges facing the state, nation and world-at-large.
  • Primary attention is given to a broad-based research agenda and institutions’ capabilities in targeted areas that address the needs of all people in society but in particular, those who are socio-economically deprived.


The ARD envisions a region and a world with a safe and plentiful supply of food, fiber and water for all, where natural resources and businesses are managed in ways that are sustainable and serve the common good.

The ARD is committed to:

  • Innovative research programs that provide effective and efficient solutions to quality of life problems affecting individuals, families and communities
  • Development of society-ready graduates who are uniquely trained and in demand to tackle the diverse issues impacting the nation and the world
  • Enhancement of the socioeconomic  condition of individuals, families and communities in targeted regions
  • Service as regional and national leaders in addressing the needs and challenges facing rural and urban communities as well as limited resource farmers

Research Focus Areas

The foundation laid by the Morrill and Hatch Acts directly and indirectly impacted research and extension at the 1890 Universities, as they evolved over time. Conscientious sacrifice, persistence and creativity were required for these institutions to collectively develop their current levels of expertise and overcome the many obstacles that arose to hinder their development to first-rate scientific research universities. Today the 1890 campuses are bristling with diverse, quality research programs that are problem-driven and interdisciplinary in nature. The basic and applied research programs involve individual and joint collaboration of member institutions at the local, state and national levels and are increasingly multi-institutional, multi-state and stakeholder driven. Designed to support medium and small-sized farms and businesses focused on maintaining the natural resources, as well as targeted rural and urban communities, the 1890 Universities’ primary areas of research concentration include:

  • Economically competitive and sustainable small-scale agricultural systems
  • Crop diversity and alternative crops and marketing strategies for farmers
  • Food safety and improved nutritional quality
  • Family, youth and community development
  • Protection and improvement of water and food quality and quantity
  • Environmental pollution and waste management
  • Value-added plant and animal products
  • Improved nutrition and health of urban and rural populations with particular emphasis on obesity
  • Natural resource management and stewardship

The ARD has long recognized that land-grant institutions must be relevant to the multitude of smaller, limited resource producers and entrepreneurs who bring a wide range of skills and ideas for agriculture and natural resource practices; bring economic activity to rural communities; and supply a variety of specialized market niches. Thus, ARD has always sought innovative efforts through planning to assist this clientele. Some believe that without this segment of the food and natural resource system, the nation would be lacking in richness of its agricultural and renewable natural resource based businesses. Service to the country’s low-income or limited resource families and communities is no less (and may be even more) a land-grant mandate today as in earlier days of the National Land-Grant System. Thus, ARD commits to leveraging its available resources, both fiscal and human, into mutually beneficial strategic partnerships that seek solutions to pressing local, regional, national and global food, agricultural, and natural resource research problems.

Strategic Five-Year Goals

ARD’s deliberations in developing five-year strategic plans have been weighed against past experiences, a deeply felt need for change, and available personnel and funding. The Association has kept intact its purpose: to redefine the vision, mission and programs so that the Land-Grant Institutions can better engage in the changes taking place in the world; to maintain and strengthen its commitments to the people it serves; and, as the ARD does these things, to develop individual and collective models for food systems professionals, relevant research, and effective community outreach programs at the member institutions. Thus, ARD’s strategic goals are to: 

  • Expand and strengthen alliances and partnerships among constituencies, the Land-Grant Institutions and other public/private agencies and groups in the region
  • Develop meaningful, mutually beneficial collaborations among 1862, 1890, and 1994 Land-Grant Institutions toward the realization of organizational efficiencies and synergies that broaden and deepen the agricultural expertise and the expansion of access and relevancy for the nation’s food and agricultural systems
  • Build international linkages to contribute our unique strengths to the development of global food security, environmental sustainability and competitiveness of U.S. food, agricultural and natural resource-based businesses
  • Function through interdisciplinary teams within and among institutions
  • Focus on issues relevant to underserved populations, and rural and urban communities in the respective regions
  • Empower communities through skill and leadership development and promotion of entrepreneurship
  • Address challenges, opportunities, and concerns pertinent to small-scale farmers and limited resource families
  • Strengthen the Academic-Extension-Research linkage at each university and across the 1890 University System
  • Provide outstanding scientific and professional expertise needed in meeting the demands of a diverse food and agricultural workforce for the 21st Century
  • Institute systems for greater program accountability to meet the mandates of local, state and national governments, as appropriate
  • Engage in initiatives that have relevance to the individual state and local needs of each university
  • Communicate the unique attributes and the accomplishments of the 1890s

External Factors Impacting Planning

Examples of specific external factors impacting research planning at the 1890 Universities include, but are not limited to:

  • Public and private funding support
  • Global and national economic circumstances and policies impacting a safe, secure and nutritious food supply
  • Changing requirements of accountability, planning and performance reporting at the state and national levels
  • Responsibilities as the 5th  Region designation of the State Agricultural Experiment Station System (SAES)
  • Institutional infrastructure issues facing our universities
  • Maintenance of a research portfolio relevant to contemporary food system issues and concerns

Additionally, the following documents have guided the 1890s in their alignments with national and regional goals:  The National Research Councils’ (NRC) Board on Agriculture  reports including Colleges of Agriculture at Land-Grant Universities: Public Service and Public Policy: NRC 1996 and Frontiers in Agricultural Research: Food, Health, Environment, and Communities, NRC, 2003; the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, Board on Agriculture’s From Issues to Action, Report of a Plan for Action on Agriculture and Natural Resources for the Land-Grant Universities (1996);  The W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Food Systems Professions Education Initiative; the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act (AREERA) of 1998; and the 1890 Land-Grant System – A Strategic Plan:  Strategically Approaching the Future. These reports and plans challenge the Land-Grant Universities to think and plan boldly and collaboratively in defining their desired future; to develop appropriate implementation plans; and to become 21st century learning organizations more responsive to the needs and issues of the global food system, accountable to the public.

Planning Goals

To assure the quality of ARD’s research agenda, its responsiveness to clientele, and its relevance to stakeholder needs, each 1890 institution continuously engages in:

  • Expanding capacity to engage its customers and respond to their expressed needs
  • Re-examining research portfolios to better address customers’ needs
  • Maintaining an inventory of research capacity to better manage and tap into established strengths
  • Ensuring that research is focused to better obtain societal, economic, and environmental benefits or new discoveries
  • Building new coalitions to better accomplish research objectives
  • Vigorously communicating accomplishments and successes
  • Seeking increased funding support from public and private sources

The Federal-State Partnership

The framework for ARD’s strategic planning efforts is linked to the five strategic goals jointly identified by the USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) and the State Agricultural Experiment Station (SAES) System.  This Federal-State Partnership in agricultural research has proven to be an invaluable coalition.

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