From the Interim Chairperson

From the Interim Chairperson

June 18, 2015

Life can be like driving a car.  Most of the time we look forward, anticipating where we want to go and making plans on how to get there.  But occasionally, it’s helpful to look in the rearview mirror and see where we’ve been.  Indeed, it’s only by comparing where we are with where we have been that we can measure our progress, gain confidence in our ability to arrive at some future location, and enlist the cooperation and consensus of our traveling companions for the future journey. 

On May 15, the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics (AFRE) did both.    After a luncheon for staff and current and emeriti faculty members organized by Taylor Logan, we enjoyed a symposium on the history of the department, which was followed by the annual department meeting, where most of the focus was devoted to reviewing the qualifications of four outstanding candidates to be the next AFRE chairperson. This is a critical time for AFRE, and our future will be significantly influenced by the person we choose to be our next chair. Perhaps taking the time now to look briefly in the rearview mirror of the department can help us make the best choice.

Looking back.  In this effort we are fortunate to have Mike Weber’s commitment. He was concerned that, when faculty members retired, they were dropped from the web page and their efforts lost from view.  So after his own retirement, Mike went about rebuilding profiles and gathering materials that are now available on the Emeritus/Former Faculty section of the department web page.  So when we needed someone to help organize a session on the history of the department, Mike seemed like the natural choice, and he was willing to do it.  View outputs to date at  2015 AFRE Historical Reviews.  If you have significant historical information about the origin of the department and who helped us arrive at where we are, would you drop Mike an email and be part of this effort?

Looking ahead.  As we look to the future and a new department chairperson, AFRE has benefitted from a dedicated chair search committee under the able leadership of Scott Swinton with committee members Nicky Mason, Chris Wolf, Frank Lupi and Jim Kells (chair of the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences). Their dedication to this assignment is reflected in the four outstanding chairperson candidates who visited the department before the annual faculty meeting.  The four chairperson candidates who interviewed are Titus Awokuse, Joan Fulton, Cathy Roheim and Ian Sheldon.

Finally, thank you for your support of AFRE—your contributions in the past have helped us arrive at this point in time, and your continuing commitment will help us build a bright future in which we continue to develop policy solutions and extension/outreach programs for reducing poverty, hunger and natural resource degradation; manage food and resource businesses in a global setting; partner with biophysical and social scientists to evaluate new production and policy approaches; and add to the knowledge base of theory and methods.


All the best,


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