Commerce and college
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From 1850 to 1890, the Universities of Georgia and North Carolina undertook significant structural and curricular reform in an effort to hasten the economic development of their states and region.|Led by trustee William Mitchell, the University of Georgia adopted a reform plan in the 1850s that was both comprehensive and far-reaching. The plan did not survive the Civil War, but Mitchell and his supporters used it as their guide in expanding the university in the 1860s, obtaining the Morrill Land Grant funds in the 1870s, and continuing to expand and diversify the university’s offerings against opposition in the 1880s.|The trustees and faculty at the University of North Carolina began more modest reforms in the 1850s that survived the war. Deterred considerably by Reconstruction, Kemp Battle and the trustees grew the university’s curriculum immensely in the late 1870s and early 1880s, alongside other state institutions designed to improve the economy through education. The Watauga Club and the North Carolina Farmer’s Alliance took the Morrill Funds away from the university, but it had already taken the rough form of a modern university and consequently become a font of Southern Progressivism.|The shifting educational policies and practices at these two universities between 1850 and 1890 reveal several things about these schools and Southern higher education. Substantial curricular reforms began quite early; they continued through the Civil War, Reconstruction and beyond; and they were just as diverse and comprehensive as reforms elsewhere in the nation. Despite dismal funding and enrollments compared to other universities more commonly associated with nineteenth century reform, the trustees were determined to offer students as many educational options as at any other university- options that would serve what the trustees hoped was a new, emerging economy in the South.