After 14 years with Michigan State University’s (MSU) Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics (AFRE), undergraduate advisor Ruthi Bloomfield has retired. Ruthi came to the Department from Lansing Community College where she had been advising non-traditional students. When the opportunity arose to join AFRE, and return to her alma mater (M.A. College of Education) she says, “It was an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of young adults. From the time I began my position, AFRE was always so good to me. I was given autonomy and support to create initiatives to better serve students. My skills, ideas and contributions were valued not only by students, but AFRE faculty and administrators as well.”
During Ruthi’s tenure, the department saw tremendous growth in undergraduate enrollment and Ruthi personally advised thousands of MSU students in the Department’s three majors and minors, Agribusinesses Management (ABM), Food Industry Management (FIM), and Environmental Economics and Management (EEM).
For Titus Awokuse, professor and chair of AFRE, “Ruthi was an invaluable member of the AFRE team, she seamlessly guided countless students through our academic majors and minors, ensuring that their time at MSU and beyond was a success. She made a huge difference in the lives of our undergraduate students and was well-respected by her colleagues in AFRE and MSU. After 14 years in the position, Ruthi had a wealth of knowledge about our department and an understanding of our profession that will be deeply missed. It has been my honor and privilege to have worked with Ruthi this past five years. Congratulations to Ruthi on a very successful and impactful career.”
Reflecting on her time in the department Ruthi says, “The best part of being an advisor was developing relationships with students. I met with students when they were high school seniors considering MSU, new MSU freshmen or upperclassmen looking for an academic home. I always enjoyed talking to them about AFRE’s majors and the exciting career opportunities. It was a privilege to work with them during their journey at MSU. I especially loved commencements when I watched these same students walk across the Breslin stage and receive their diplomas.”
Brent Ross, AFRE associate chair and undergraduate director, says, “From the first-time perspective students visited our department till the day they graduated, Ruthi lent a kind and caring presence to their college experience. Agriculture Hall and Room 1, where Ruthi’s office was located, just won’t be the same without her.”
Ruthi may not be in the office anymore but she has some parting advice to incoming AFRE undergraduates, “Get involved. There are so many opportunities in the department to engage and set yourself apart from other students. Participation and leadership positions in student clubs, internships, undergraduate research, student panels, field trips, and involvement with AFRE alumni, these are the activities that build your resume and are of interest to employers.”
While Ruthi is sad to say goodbye and will miss the students and her colleagues, she says, she is already enjoying retirement, adding, “It’s great to have time to really be present for my family and friends. While some of my plans changed because of the pandemic, I am enjoying biking, kayaking, and a lot of reading. Also, I will be gradually spending more time up north as my husband and I plan to move to Traverse City next year.”
On behalf of the students, faculty and staff who have worked with Ruthi, Ross says, “I think I speak for everyone when I say she will be greatly missed, but we wish her the best in her much-deserved retirement.”
Undergraduate advising in AFRE will continue to be conducted by Lisa Henry and by Marcus Martin, who was recently hired by the Department.