Revolution is based on land. Land is the basis of all independence. Land is the basis of freedom, justice, and equality. – Malcolm X
At the most fundamental level, virtually every economic system man has ever created relies on one undeniable truth – whoever controls the land, controls the system. It is in large part why African American institutional and individual wealth has deteriorated over the past 100 years as land ownership has seen a rapid and steady decline. In 1999, a report by the Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund noted African Americans own, “less than 1% of all privately owned rural land in the United States”. As the human population continues to grow and resources are even more strained, control of land will only increase from the macro level of countries down to the micro level of communities.
Among colleges, land is a very important strategic tool. For rural and urban colleges alike the ability to control the land around itself and within its region can be vital to its success and survival. It can also be used for investment and research for the institutions. Harvard University owns a piece of land in New Hampshire and has been studying its recovery from a hurricane since 1938. Quite a few colleges actually own land in other countries and many colleges own land in their endowments for investments in timber and other alternative investments. In the recession, timber was the only asset class to not decline. As one institutional investor said at the 2009 Timberland Investment World Summit I attended in New York, “As long as the sun is shining trees will grow and your timber’s value will increase.”
The HBCUs below are all land-grant institutions. Tuskegee has unique status being the only private HBCU in the country with land-grant status. A status only two other private universities in the United States (Cornell & M.I.T.) can claim. National ranking in parentheses.
- Tuskegee University – 5 000 Acres (12)
- Alabama A&M University – 2 300 Acres (28)
- Alcorn State University – 1 756 Acres (42)
- Prairie View A&M University – 1 502 (48)
- Kentucky State University – 915 Acres (92)
- Southern University – 884 Acres (96)
- The 6 HBCUs combined control 12 357 acres.
- The 10 largest college landowners control 100 913 acres.
- The 100 largest college landowners control 342 497 acres
- Median acreage among top 100 college landowners – 1 375 acres
- Average acreage among top 100 college landowners – 2 299 acres