Purdue University Agriculture Dean Jay Akridge presents a 'state of the college' report to Indiana Prairie Farmer about this time each year. Finances aside, things are progressing well, especially as far as students are concerned, he notes.
The financial picture will not be known until later in the year, when the state legislature hands down a decision on the College's requests for extra funds. It's also unclear how much the feds will cut extension and research nationwide.
Akridge does emphasize that despite the publicity about agriculture at Purdue receiving a $65 million gift, that is a future help, not a current help. The donors stepped forward to offer the money, but only after their death. Akridge says it could realistically be 20 years before Purdue Agriculture sees that money.
In the meantime, the goal is to move forward with what it available and praise current employment situations.
"We continue to have a great placement rate for ag college graduates at or above 90%," he says. "Companies continue to come here both spring and fall to look for graduates.
"Some areas are especially hot. We simply don't have enough graduates in Agronomy, for example, to meet the need. Some companies are hiring Purdue animal science students and training them because Agronomy students aren't available."
Some of the key technicians in Beck's Hybrids research program started out in animal science, but have been converted to working with plants, notes Kevin Cavanaugh, director of research for Beck's Hybrids.
"We also anticipate a great class of students from what we've been told coming in this fall," he says. "On the Extension side, the Center for Commercial agriculture in the ag economics department headed by Brent Gloy is starting to get traction. It's designed to offer programming for large commercial farming operations.
"We also have bright spots on the research side. Mitch Tynstra in Agronomy, for example, a corn breeder, is raising eyebrows with his work searching for germplasm that will help plants perform better under drier conditions. "