From the (New) Chairperson

As the season changes into autumn, our Department is changing too. In addition to welcoming new and returning students for fall classes, we also have new faculty and staff joining the department.

September 14, 2015

Titus Awokuse, AFRE Chair

As the season changes into autumn, our Department is changing too.  In addition to welcoming new and returning students for fall classes, we also have new faculty and staff joining the department.  I am new to MSU, as my appointment began in August 2015. We also welcome both David Hennessy, as Elton R. Smith Professor of Food and Agricultural Policy, and Hongli Feng, as associate professor.


As Chairperson of the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics (AFRE), I face a fresh beginning.  For the past 15 years, I was a faculty member (and Chairperson from 2011 to 2015) of the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics at the University of Delaware. My family (wife, two sons and a daughter) is also making a new beginning, as we recently moved from the East Coast to East Lansing, Michigan. While we will miss our friends and colleagues in Delaware, I’m very excited about the great opportunity to join the Spartan community and serve as the leader of an excellent and very dynamic department. I’m truly honored to be a part of AFRE.  


As AFRE’s Chairperson, my main goal is to work alongside faculty, staff, stakeholders, and administrative leaders at MSU and across the state in building empowering relationships and programs. Our department’s future success will depend on how well we work together in building a stronger sense of community and effective working partnerships across our field and other disciplines. We must strengthen our outreach and engagement with our stakeholders within MSU, across the state of Michigan, and around the world. I’m very confident that we can do this. I value open communication, accountability, transparency, and fairness. I will work very hard to be a strong advocate and promoter of our people and programs. 


We have some important decisions to make in the next few years with regards to our research enterprise, undergraduate and graduate programs, outreach programs, and key personnel changes in our centers and working groups. These pivotal decisions will require internal conversations and planning amongst us as we revisit key questions about our identity and future as a department. Addressing these questions will require greater commitment to strategic thinking about our future and engaging in service to AFRE. While we have some challenges ahead, we are doing very well and are poised to achieve even more and make a greater impact in scholarship, education and outreach. We have excellent faculty, staff and students who are pushing the frontier of knowledge and making national and global impact.  


My primary objective in the next few weeks and months is to take time to listen and learn more about AFRE and MSU. To that end, I plan to meet with various stakeholders within MSU, Michigan and beyond. I look forward to listening to your insights and ideas for building stronger relationships and programs within and beyond our great department.   


I am very grateful to the two most recent AFRE chairs, Steve Hanson and Lindon Robison, and the associate chairs, Scott Swinton and Jim Hilker, for their effective leadership and strong commitment to the welfare and development of the department. Please join me in showing them our appreciation for their excellent contributions to AFRE. I’m also thankful for the many other AFRE faculty and staff who have played key leadership roles in the past and continue to do so. I look forward to working with each of you in extending and expanding upon our recent successes. Together we can do more amazing things and make a larger impact on our world. I’m very excited about being part of this great adventure. 


Titus Awokuse

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