Update from the Chair – October 2018

Chairperson of AFRE, Titus Awokuse, gives a status update on the department and outlines recent accomplishments by faculty, students, and alumni.

Titus Awokuse, MSU

Homecoming Week at MSU inspires me to reflect on the status and achievements of the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics (AFRE) in 2018. Beyond the successes of the Spartan football team, there are a few other things to celebrate. Despite recent news coverage of negative past events and challenging issues facing MSU, we have some positive accomplishments of our students, faculty, and staff to celebrate — the state of our department is very strong and continues to improve.  

You will notice that the leading article in this issue of our newsletter highlights the growing global prominence and reputation of our department and programs. AFRE was ranked number one among all agricultural and applied economics departments in Research Papers in Economics (RePEc). This news followed previous AFRE ranking of number four in the world by the Center for World University Rankings. These consistently high rankings are indicative of the quality and excellence of our people and programs.  

For the second year in a row, an AFRE faculty received the highest honor in the agricultural and applied economics profession. This past summer, Thomas Jayne was inducted as Fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA).  In addition, Frank Lupi was the recipient of MSU's William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award.  Also, several of our students won national and international competitions and awards for their work and the job placements of our undergraduate and graduate students in fields related to their study has been excellent.   

Congratulations to three AFRE faculty members who were promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure (Andrew Dillon, Saweda Liverpool-Tasie, and David Ortega). Unfortunately, we also experienced the departure of a few of our colleagues in 2018. Chris Peterson has retired from MSU after many years of excellent service and achievements. In addition, both Andrew Dillon and Cloe Garnache recently moved from MSU to seek promising career opportunities at other institutions. When you are at the top, other institutions court and recruit your talented people. We wish them all the very best. AFRE is currently conducting a search for a new faculty at the rank of Assistant/Associate in Agricultural and Food Policy. We hope to obtain university approval to conduct additional new faculty searches in the near future. 

If you have not visited the MSU campus in recent months, you would have missed the significant changes taking place with Cook Hall, AFRE’s graduate students' home. Due to the generous gift of an AFRE alumnus and additional funding support from MSU general funds, Cook Hall is undergoing major renovations that should result in a more beautiful and functional work space for our graduate students. They will move back to the renovated space after construction is completed in December, 2018. 

In the near future, we will continue to dedicate our efforts to implement the key priorities we collectively determined from our strategic planning process.  We will also continue to engage our stakeholders and alumni by regularly communicating with them and sharing news of happenings in AFRE and MSU. I look forward to hearing from you about your activities and achievements. Please stay connected to AFRE news via our website and social media. Go Green!

Titus Awokuse
Chairperson of the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics

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