Title page for ETD etd-32398-104813

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Dooley, John E.
Author's Email Address jdooley@vt.edu
URN etd-32398-104813
Title Defining the Mission of Virginia Cooperative Extension: an Interpretative Analysis From a Historical Perspective
Degree PhD
Department Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Earthman, Glen I. Committee Chair
Niles, Jerome A. Committee Member
Parks, David J. Committee Member
Salmon, Richard G. Committee Member
Schwertz, Courtney Committee Member
  • cooperative extension
  • Smith-Lever Act
  • land-grant university
Date of Defense 1998-03-24
Availability unrestricted
The study is an interpretative analysis of Virginia Cooperative Extension that

examined the mission of the agency, as defined through its history and enabling

acts of legislation. The study investigated how the mission has evolved during

the eighty-four years of its existence. The study used the intent and context

of the federal Smith-Lever legislation of 1914 as its benchmark to discover what

the desired and anticipated outcomes were for Cooperative Extension by the

original patrons of the legislation. Subsequent legislative acts at both the

state and federal levels, as well as actions by the executive branch of

government, were studied to discover if and when the mission of cooperative

extension has changed and to identify the political, economic, and social

factors that influenced the changes.

The study incorporated accepted methods of historical research and included

the review and analysis of both primary and secondary sources of information.

Interviews of key leaders who have influenced the policy position of Virginia

Cooperative Extension over the past thirty years were conducted.

The data gathered by the study were analyzed and presented to highlight major

themes that could have influenced critical policy issues that have confronted

Virginia Cooperative Extension. The conclusion is that the mission of extension

is two fold: (1) to provide education that could lead to increased economic

opportunity and, (2) to enhance the quality of life enjoyed by Virginia's


Three critical attributes are identified that relate to the ability of

Virginia Cooperative Extension to fulfill its mission: (1) access to

research-based information, (2) a strong presence in local communities, and

(3) a capacity to provide timely responses to emerging issues.

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