Lester C. Young
The beginning of the New Millennium is developing a bright sunrise for the College of Agriculture. Over the past few years we have undergone a transformation from a small production based college into a more modern, urban inclusive college of agriculture. The inclusion of the food industry, as part of our corporate base, has enabled the college to embrace everything, literally, from the farm to the plate.
Even though the college is the only four-year agriculture program south of the Tehachapies, we have not made our presence known across the state. We continue to operate our 700-acre farm in the middle of three freeways and 13 million people. Our presence defines the open, green space environment of the campus.
Education remains the keystone of our Strategic Plan and the primary function of the college. The education component includes both undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as professional programs. The primary role of each faculty member has always been that of a teacher, but now we are also assessing the quality of student learning. The university as a whole has embraced the concept of the extended university, delivering programs external to the university proper. Our faculty have actually led in this development providing telecommunications courses used at other California universities, and WEB courses, which allow students to do their lessons when their schedules allow.
Our education programs continue to include the typical agriculture production majors, such as agronomy, soil science, irrigation science, and animal science, while enhancing related programs such as food science and technology, food marketing and agribusiness management. Additional programs for the urban environment include horticulture, nutrition, and apparel merchandising and management. Masters and professional programs are being enhanced to provide manager level personnel capable of assisting businesses in their operations.
All of the faculty contribute to teaching, advising, and scholarly activity which includes all aspects of the faculty responsibilities-teaching quality, learning assessment, application of new technologies, basic and applied research. Creation and distribution of new knowledge has always been a critical component of academic life at universities.
The success of the ARI (Agriculture Research Initiative) funding for research has brought about an increase in research capability. It has provided start-up funds, new equipment, student salaries, release time for faculty, partners to enhance California food and agriculture, and funding to convert facilities into laboratory space. ARI success with corporate partners has been exceptional. The positive results we have obtained are a result of creative hard work by Dr. David Still, Director of the ARI program, and the faculty who commit far more time than they get recognized for.
The transformation of the college continues with young faculty joining our fold, bringing with them vitality, new ideas, and passion for their research and teaching. As some of our tried and true faculty begin to retire, we manage to hang on to a few through the Faculty Early Retirement Program (FERP) to continue their expertise, share current and historical knowledge, and the legacy of Cal Poly Pomona. Many of you alums might want to take a few minutes to contact those faculty to express your appreciation for what they gave you. It would make their day.