From the Interim Chairperson

We are always pleased when one of our own is recognized. In this case, President Lou Anna Simon recognized Scott Swinton with the William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award at her State of the University address Feb. 10.

March 11, 2015

We are always pleased when one of our own is recognized.  In this case, President Lou Anna Simon recognized Scott Swinton with the William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award at her State of the University address  Feb. 10.  We congratulate Scott for this well-deserved award and are pleased for the warm glow his recognition brings to the department. 

We are also pleased that the new chair search is progressing.   A position description has been approved, and qualified applicants are encouraged to apply.   We would appreciate your help in circulating news of the opening and inviting qualified candidates to apply.  We look to fill the Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics (AFRE) chair with someone who has demonstrated excellence as a scholar in research, teaching and/or extension, and excellence in administration, communication and leadership.  We thank the AFRE chair search committee members -- Frank Lupi, Nicole Mason, Chris Wolf and Scott Swinton (chair), and Jim Kells from the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences -- for their efforts. 

I continue to be impressed with the nationally and internationally recognized programs that our talented and dedicated AFRE members deliver.  These efforts have led to AFRE being ranked among the top five university departments globally for research in agricultural economics by RePEc (Research Papers in Economics, https://ideas.repec.org/top/top.agr.html).

Another area that deserves special mention is AFRE’s undergraduate program, which has now grown to 852 undergraduate majors -- 193 in agribusiness management, 619 in food industry management and 40 in environmental economics and policy -- plus 137 students completing specializations (minors) in these fields..   These numbers are all the more impressive when we recall that our undergraduate majors numbered 300 in 2005 when the department underwent its last external review. 

With this increase in our opportunities to provide undergraduate educational services has come the need for increased leadership in this area.  To address this need, I am pleased to report that Jim Hilker has agreed to serve our academic community as associate chair for undergraduate education.  In this new position, he will continue to teach, organize and provide direction to our undergraduate program while continuing, as only Jim can do, to maintain a highly valued extension outreach program.

Now to end on a personal note.  Sometimes economists are painted as rather self-serving, bottom-line-driven professionals who are always looking for but never expecting to find a free lunch.  What I observe in AFRE is just the opposite.  We work hard because we care about one another, because we believe that what we do is important and because we believe that people benefit from what we produce.  I’m proud to belong to such a team.

 

Lindon J. Robison

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