‘Agriculture’ likely to remain in college name
In the face of some contention over the College of Agriculture’s plan to change its name, Dean Ernie Barber reports progress has been made.
Barber says that, after extensive consultations with college alumni, students, the U of S administration, the provincial government and other stakeholders, he agrees with those who want the word ‘agriculture’ to stay in the college’s name.
In 2004 a college faculty committee began looking at the issue to see if a new name would better reflect the college’s broadening range of programs and disciplines. Last fall the committee recommended that the name be changed, but it didn’t suggest to what. The move sparked many responses, particularly from alumni, urging Barber not to drop ‘agriculture’ from the title.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of conversation, and there’s a sense that the word ‘agriculture’ has to stay there, for a number of reasons,” Barber said.
“Across its many colleges, the University makes an unprecedented commitment to agriculture, agriculture remains very important to Saskatchewan, and it continues to be central to what we do in the college. For all of these reasons, I agree with keeping the word in our name,” he said.
“Somehow, I also want to see the word ‘resource’ in there, too. So, based on the feedback, I will bring a recommendation forward to faculty that these two words be in the new name,” Barber says.
The dean knows the high-profile change of the college’s name is a delicate issue. He says while many don’t want to see it lose its ties to the central agricultural mission, “there is an understanding of the desire and reasonableness and value” of seeing agriculture as part of a larger, integrated set of resource-management disciplines.
A November 2005 document on the college’s website, called Reframing Agriculture for the 21st Century, says the role of agriculture today isn’t limited to farming issues. It now includes teaching and research aimed at creating a sustainable and safe food supply, developing bio-products, managing and conserving natural resources and the environment, providing solutions in health care, and improving the rural economy and quality of life.
“There is a growing appreciation for the positive vision we have for the College of Agriculture as a solution-provider” and a key player in the responsible, sustainable management of renewable resources, Barber says. He adds many people recognize that this new vision sees a role for the college “which encompasses the entire province, right up to the North”.
The dean met this month with the Saskatchewan Agricultural Graduates’ Association (SAGA) at its annual meeting and he is also holding a series of forums with students on the college name issue.
Over the next three months, he plans “to hold a series of very directed conversations to link our mission with these name suggestions”.
Barber says the project is on-track for approval of a new college name by faculty in June and by University Council and the Board of Governors in October.