Setting CAHNRS apart

A group of people stand, listening to a person speaking, in a field.
Drew Lyon (far right), WSU Extension weed scientist, hosts a weed science field day earlier this year. During this week’s APLU meeting, one of the speakers highlighted that the need for Extension is more prevalent than ever.

I was in Seattle the first part of this week attending the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities annual meeting. WSU was well represented by our government relations, foundation, and leadership teams.

On Sunday, I listened to the Seaman Knapp Memorial Lecture. Seaman Knapp is often referred to as the “father of Extension.” The speaker talked about Knapp’s creation of Cooperative Extension to help the impoverished, adding that the need for Extension is more prevalent than ever, as is the need for research to support Extension recommendations, and higher ed teaching. The speaker also talked about why it’s essential for us to share our story better and often and build a group of advocates who will raise their voices. A CAHNRS Advisory Council can certainly help us on this front.

On Monday, we heard from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. He is a great speaker and provided a clear vision for the direction of the USDA with new funding opportunities for the ag sector. Secretary Vilsack talked about land-grant universities’ role in providing support to farms, farmers, and allied industry partners. Admittedly, I was disappointed at the lack of acknowledgement that the land-grant universities can’t do more with less. Most of the deans I spoke to felt the same. Hopefully it was an oversight. The fact that he made the trip to Seattle speaks volumes of his support for our mission.

The session about what it takes to make a transformational change was standing room only. So, too, was the session about student wellbeing. Sadly, it’s necessary to hold a session addressing the rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia on college campuses. This session, too, was well attended, as there is a strong commitment to supporting civil discourse while keeping students safe.

The lunch speaker, Boeing CEO and President David Calhoun, talked about the need for programs to differentiate themselves. He described a student experience like what I have imagined — an immersive problem-based consulting experience that brings different disciplines together for an extended period of experiential learning. I left that talk very excited and will try to follow up. This is the kind of bold thinking that will set CAHNRS apart from other programs across the country, not to mention align our college with what we have heard about employers’ needs. I don’t foresee a shortage of employers interested in partnering with us.

I look forward to Thursday’s faculty workshop, where we will talk about the promotion and tenure process and hear tips from a few recently promoted faculty as well as recommendations from CAHNRS Promotion and Tenure Committee members. Hopefully all of the natural gas lines are functioning in Pullman before then.

Enjoy the weekend and good luck to all of our sports teams!


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