On Friday, the University of Idaho announced an effort to better align with the state’s agricultural industry. As of July 1st, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has combined animal, veterinary and food sciences research, education and outreach into one department. The Idaho State Board of Education approved the proposal last month.
Eight food science faculty members joined 22 animal and veterinary science faculty to expand collaborative efforts and establish the new Department of Animal, Veterinary and Food Sciences.
“Our efforts to expand our meat science education and research with the new Agri Beef Meat Science and Innovation Center Honoring Ron Richard and the comprehensive focus of the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment made the timing right for this move,” said Michael Parrella, CALS dean. “Creating this new department adds momentum to our efforts to enhance student opportunities and research capacity. This will help us better serve Idaho and its modern agricultural industry.”
The change reflected a joint decision by the U of I and Washington State University in January to dissolve the Bi-State School of Food Science. The move will allow each university to refocus on its state’s priorities. Students at both universities will continue to take classes on both campuses in food science for their undergraduate and graduate studies. The cross-listed classes offer students access to the expertise of both schools, which are eight miles apart.
The U of I decision will allow more focus on building stronger relationships with the College of Southern Idaho, College of Western Idaho and Brigham Young University – Idaho. Most of Idaho’s dairy, beef and food processing industry are in southern Idaho.
Idaho officials projected the realignment of faculty would improve opportunities for students. The proposal to merge departments set a goal of boosting enrollment in food science programs and external grant funding by 20%. The proposal also noted that the new department would operate with the same funding for faculty salaries and operating budget as before the move.
“Our animal and veterinary science faculty members and our food science colleagues voted overwhelmingly to form the new department,” department head Robert Collier said.
Collier served as animal and veterinary science department head and will continue to lead he expanded department.
“Shifts in federal research funding that favors larger, more complex and multidisciplinary projects will give the expanded faculty more chances to find new approaches to solving key issues and training students,” Collier said.
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