Eight members of Fresno State President Joseph Castro’s Commission on the Future of Agriculture listened and shared during a campus gathering on a recent Friday afternoon to discuss strengths and challenges facing agricultural programs at Fresno State.
More than 40 faculty and staff from the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology met with the commission members during a special forum led by Andrew Hoff, interim provost and co-chair of the commission.
Faculty and staff were invited to voice what they see as the college’s greatest strengths, its foremost challenges, and what vision they have for where the college can be five, 10 and 15 years from now.
In brainstorming fashion, Hoff scrambled to list dozens of comments and ideas articulated by the group. Common themes emerging from the strengths discussion were the quality of highly- skilled and dedicated faculty and staff, along with the value of the campus University Agricultural Laboratory as a teaching and training ground for students.
Commonly voiced challenges were the need to increase faculty numbers, in order to give existing faculty more freedom to formulate and pursue visions that will further enhance programs and facilities for Fresno State students.
Commission members shared some of their own observations as “outside” agribusiness and community members. Many agreed with previously listed comments and some added additional thoughts.
Hoff called the gathering to help the commission complete its charge from President Castro:
1.Review Fresno State’s academic, applied research and public service programs that are focused on agriculture and/or serve the needs of the agricultural industry.
2. Identify areas of opportunity where Fresno State agricultural programs and facilities can be among the best in the nation.
3. Recommend strategies to strengthen partnerships between Fresno State, government agencies, private foundations, individual philanthropists and the agricultural industry in support of the campus’ agricultural programs.
Commission members already have toured the campus farm and met to discuss a variety of opportunities and challenges related to the college. The forum gave them an opportunity to hear directly from college faculty and staff.
The full 20-member commission is comprised of agribusiness and industry leaders from throughout the San Joaquin Valley and includes several Fresno State representatives. Co-chairing along with Hoff is dairyman, attorney and industry leader George Soares of Hanford.
Hoff said notes from the recent session will be compiled into a report to be presented to the full commission, which is meeting monthly. Based on all the information, input and ideas gained during its first months of activity, the commission will develop a preliminary report containing recommendations to be made to President Castro during a public forum May 9.
For more information on the President’s Commission or the forum, contact the provost’s office at 559.278.2636.