UW College of Ag Dean provides update going into school year
The University of Wyoming (UW) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Dean Barbara Rasco shared during the Wyoming Wool Growers Association (WWGA) Summer Meeting Aug. 10-11 in Lander the college is prepared to welcome students back to campus with classes starting Aug. 23.
“Over 80 percent of the faculty and staff have been vaccinated, and students are encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Rasco said. “There are some COVID-19 safety practices in place, but we are very committed, particularly the CANR, to having our students back in Laramie.”
In addition to receiving students for the fall semester, Rasco provided an update on the CANR’s new Ranch Management and Agricultural Leadership Program, as well as the reorganization of the university.
Ranch Management and Agricultural Leadership Program
“There have been listening sessions across the state with producers in both the beef and sheep production industries, folks in the public sector and internally with UW faculty and staff in order to get a feel of what the content of the program should be,” Rasco shared on the new program, a need the agricultural community brought to the attention of CANR.
According to Rasco, the program is designed to serve agriculturalists in several different capacities.
“First, is the focus on an undergraduate degree program,” Rasco said, noting the degree will be ranch management and agricultural leadership. “The paperwork to get this degree started for students to enroll for the fall of 2022 is due this September, so we are working on getting this moved through the system as fast as we possibly can.”
The second focus of the program is certificate programs for professional development, which Rasco shared serves people in the industry who wish to expand their knowledge base, but don’t want to come back to UW for a four-year degree.
“We are thinking some of these certificates will be basic management of agricultural operations, financing, energy leases, technology, animal husbandry and forage and range management,” she explained. “We are putting the certificate programs together and looking for assistance from producers on what we should do first, but also to serve as speakers and experts in the professional development series.”
Rasco said a seminar series will be launched in the spring of 2022 to provide networking opportunities between UW students and professionals in the community as the third focus of the program.
“Topics might include the new administration’s programs, which might affect ag producers in our state, including water and energy, as well as market issues,” Rasco added. “We are really excited to get this program going as something designed to specifically meet the needs of our agricultural community.”
During the WWGA summer meeting, Rasco shared plans for reorganization of university programs to alleviate pressure from budget cuts, be more competitive for federal dollars and focus more on a larger research agenda.
“The College of Engineers is planned to absorb chemistry, physics, math and other physical science into a new college,” she explained.
As far as the CANR, Rasco said, “The plan is for the CANR to absorb zoology, physiology and botany.”
The College of Arts and Sciences is going to focus on humanities, social sciences and visual performing arts.
“A major focus of the reorganization is the School of Computing, which includes a lot of internal reallocations of funds,” Rasco said. “A Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is another initiative the president is a strong component of to support business development in the state.”
Rasco continued, “In our college, we are working on a plan to integrate the biological sciences into the CANR, but, in the reorganization plan, the Department of Ag and Applied Economics is moved to the College of Business, and the Department of Family and Consumer Science (FACS) is eliminated.”
“The elimination of FACS would be detrimental, and we are proposing to keep Ag and Applied Economics and FACS in the CANR,” she explained.
In order to keep Ag and Applied Economics and FACS in the CANR, Rasco noted the college has created four focus areas to maintain all of the degree programs as they are currently structured and keep much of the CANR’s administrative structure intact.
“Preliminarily, the focus titles are production and health, management, ecology and basic sciences,” she explained. “Animal and plant production and protection will encompass animal science, plant science and veterinary science programs; agricultural, human and natural resources science management is to include ag economics and business programs, FACS, ecosystem science and natural resource management as well as the new ranch management and ag leadership program, because all people in this area are focused on other people, resources and the economics of managing operations; ecology and biodiversity is to include wildlife and botany; and the last focus to include microbiology, cell biology and medicine.”
While these focus areas to keep the CANR whole are not fully fleshed out, Rasco shared she hopes to present a strong plan for providing education to build business-ready communities throughout the state.
Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.