Dean Kress delivers State of the College to inspire and ignite potential
“Inside all of us is a common desire. No matter our background or walk of life, we want to be inspired,” said Cathann A. Kress, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), at the college’s annual State of the College.
“As I look at the CFAES community, I see overwhelming evidence of that inspiration in the work that we do, the people’s lives we touch, and the commitment our college has to become the model, modern land-grant institution,” Kress said. “Ultimately, these inspirations ignite the most powerful of our resources: our potential.”
During the State of the College, Kress highlighted the college’s potential and reflected on its greatest accomplishments. Her speech encompassed the following six themes.
- Students first
“Our ‘students-first’ philosophy—our very core—has us leading the university with student success metrics in every category,” Kress said.
CFAES leads the university in student success in the following:
- More than $3.1 million in scholarships are awarded annually.
- Four- and six-year graduation rates exceed the university rates.
- Nearly 95% of CFAES graduates are enrolled in graduate education or employed within six months of graduation.
- Top-notch faculty
To continue building momentum and growth, CFAES welcomed 21 new faculty members into the college—across nearly all of its departments—in the past year, with plans to welcome an additional 10 faculty for the autumn 2023 semester, with over 30 faculty searches currently in process.
In her speech, Kress also saluted three faculty members, each of whom earned the title of CFAES 2022–23 Distinguished Professor of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
“We are very proud of the work being conducted by Drs. Luis Rodriguez-Saona, Sudhir Sastry, and Brent Sohngen,” Kress said. “This honorific title is awarded on a competitive basis to full professors who have excelled in teaching, research, or outreach and engagement, and whose work has demonstrated significant impact on their fields, students, college, university, and/or the public.”
- Innovative research
Researchers in the CFAES departments of Food Science and Technology as well as Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering have installed and commissioned new pilot-scale, ultra-shear technology equipment for liquid foods and beverages processing.
CFAES research will encompass activity on both sides of Lane Avenue, at Carmenton to the south and at Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory to the north. Devin Peterson, Jessica Cooperstone, and Radin Sadre—the first faculty teams to move in—will work in the Foods for Health area.
“We’re very excited to have several CFAES research teams move into the new Interdisciplinary Research Facility that will open in spring 2023 at Carmenton,” Kress said.
- State-of-the-art facilities
In her speech, Kress celebrated the college’s state-of-the-art facilities that set Ohio State apart from other institutions:
- Waterman is the home of numerous projects that directly impact water quality, production, food waste, and wildlife management. It also hosts fourth graders, who visit the facility to learn about the food system, the environment, and agriculture and how they can participate.
- In September, CFAES opened the Controlled Environment Agriculture Research Complex, a best-in-class facility that will help distinguish Ohio state from other institutions.
- On the Wooster campus, CFAES recently finished the Intracampus Pathways and Civic Infrastructure project, which added walking-biking paths connecting student housing, the Wooster Science Building, and the Wooster Conference Center.
- The Ohio State University Stone Laboratory will be getting additional teaching and research space, as well as mesocosms—700-gallon flow-through tanks that allow for large-scale experiments using Lake Erie water.
Fundraising is underway for additional facilities:
- The Multispecies Animal Learning Center will create opportunities to learn about animal and human interactions.
- The Education and Innovation Center will serve as a hub to educate the public about the college’s work and the importance of the industries and career opportunities available.
- Enduring partnerships
Kress acknowledged that partnerships are essential to helping CFAES accomplish its purpose to sustain life.
“For us to meet the demands of the industry, we must continue to foster a thriving pipeline to our college for our traditional student populations, while also creating pathways for young people who have not traditionally found careers in agriculture,” Kress said.
CFAES partnered with two institutions to create educational opportunities in the agricultural industry:
- CFAES is collaborating with Rio Grande to create pathways to a four-year degree program in animal sciences, enabling the college to extend its reach to southeastern, Appalachian Ohio.
- CFAES also worked with Wilberforce University to create an advanced golf-course management program in which Wilberforce students can earn an Ohio State certificate.
CFAES has partnered to inspire young people to consider careers in agriculture:
- With the help of the Office of Strategic Enrollment Management, CFAES established the Buckeye Agricultural Leaders Pathways program. This program aims to increase enrollment by increasing outreach from CFAES to admitted students.
- Urban ROOTS is an Ohio State University Extension program funded by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners to engage eighth grade students in immersive educational experiences in agricultural careers. OSU Extension is CFAES’ statewide outreach arm.
- Ohio 4-H Pathways to the Future, a new program sponsored through Ohio 4-H youth development, helps youth successfully accomplish their college and career goals following high school.
“In CFAES, we strive to enter partnerships that are enduring rather than transactional, to increase opportunities for meaningful participation from our stakeholders and alumni, and to create additional pathways for lifelong learning,” Kress said.
CFAES also has partnered with businesses to provide world-class research:
- Nationwide and CFAES have established the Ag Tech Innovation Hub to encourage the development of new solutions that will help the agricultural ecosystem while better understanding, managing, and mitigating climate risk.
- Through a partnership with Voyager and Nanoracks, Ohio State, led by CFAES, will serve as the lead partner for the first-ever science park completely devoted to space research.
- Lifelong connections
“Our college has the unique privilege of establishing lifelong connections to the people of Ohio,” Kress said.
Some of the work CFAES is doing to strengthen those connections includes the following:
- CFAES hosted hundreds of alumni at its inaugural CFAES Alumni Homecoming Weekend, where faculty, staff, and students were able to renew and create new connections.
- Because of the college’s lifelong connections, CFAES has surpassed its Time and Change: The Ohio State Campaign fundraising goal of $225 million:
- In 2022, CFAES received gifts from over 11,300 donors.
- Over 1,200 are new donors to the college.
The newly created Farm Financial Management and Policy Institute, housed within Extension, will engage with departments within CFAES; schools and colleges within the university; and other universities across the country to help farmers apply research-based knowledge and best practices that increase productivity.
Through OSU Extension, CFAES educates over 2 million individuals across the lifespan—while improving the food and agricultural sectors, the environment, and the quality of people’s lives.
CFAES has tremendous momentum in ensuring student success, growing its research impact, and serving the people of Ohio. The college is grateful for the support of its partners and donors; celebrates the successes of its students, faculty, and staff; and looks forward to the future.