From the Chairperson (Spring 2016)

From the Chairperson

June 7, 2016

Titus Awokuse, Ph.D., AFRE Chair

At the MSU Spring commencement ceremonies, we had the opportunity to congratulate and bid farewell to many of our students who now embark on a new adventure away from the routines of learning in a university environment. As I shook hands and congratulated about 200 AFRE students who had just received their hard-earned diplomas, I couldn’t help but wonder what the future holds and where their professional careers might stand a decade from now.  


While the specifics of their future paths may be unknown to me, I’m confident that they have been well prepared and they have the potential for a bright future.  Their interactions with our faculty, in and outside, the classroom have helped build excellent skills and invaluable experiences that will propel them to successful careers like the AFRE alumni who came before them. Congratulations to the class of 2016!


The past year has seen great accomplishments by AFRE faculty, staff and students. After several new faculty hires in the 2015-16 academic year, we are excited to begin searching for two new faculty members with research/Extension/teaching appointments in 1) farm management and 2) agricultural/food marketing.


We also have a transition in administrative leadership in AFRE, as we welcome Rick Horan as the new associate chair and director of graduate programs (effective May 16, 2016). Special thanks are due to Scott Swinton for doing an excellent job over the past five years in leading our graduate programs. Under his leadership, the quality and visibility of our graduate programs have taking a major step forward. 


AFRE faculty received significant recognition and awards this year, strengthening our national reputation and visibility. We are proud of several colleagues who are actively engaged in key leadership roles in the agricultural and applied economics profession (e.g., journal editors and editorial boards, section and committee chairs, association board of directors, and academic review panels, etc.). For example, many AFRE faculty serve in key roles the AAEA, our premier professional association:

  • Scott Swinton: president-elect, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA)
  • Saweda Liverpool-Taste: chair-elect, AAEA Africa Section
  • Nicky Mason:  secretary-treasurer, AAEA Africa Section
  • Songqing Jin: chair, AAEA China Section
  • Titus Awokuse: chair-elect, AAEA National Association of Agricultural Economics Administrators (NAAEA) Section; member, C-FARE, AAEA’s Priorities and Solutions Steering Committee
  • Melinda Smale, chair-elect, AAEA’s International Section 


We are on the right track and forging forward. Our department is a national and global leader in developing a new generation of T-shaped students who know their discipline well, and are equipped to branch out to others in innovative ways. Such students are prepared for successful careers and professional leadership. Also, there is clear evidence of gains in our national rankings, reputation, and impact. We experienced significant growth in research productivity and quality of our academic programs, attracting more competitive grants from diverse sources. 


As we proceed with our current strategic planning process, we have an opportunity to evaluate our progress, refine our goals, and explore specific strategies for moving forward. Let us take some time to enjoy the summer season and return for the next academic year with renewed vigor and commitment to building a stronger department. 


Titus O. Awokuse

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