Student debt and leadership are hot topics at Farm Science Review luncheon

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Bruce McPheron

LONDON, Ohio — Ohio State ag students might find more money through scholarships if the dean has his way.

Bruce McPheron, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, announced an additional $1 million financial commitment to the college’s undergraduates for the 2016-17 school year. He made the announcement at a Farm Science Review luncheon Sept. 22.

“Our most valuable product as a university are those graduates,” McPheron said.

“Our goal over the next decade is to cut our student debt significantly,” he added. “Any impact we can make on reducing our students’ debt translates into more money they can put toward their professional and personal lives.”

The college had a $2.1 million base of aid this year to ag college students both on the Columbus and Wooster campuses. He challenged those attending the luncheon and leverage those dollars to “make that investment sustainable and move the baseline.”

New Extension director

McPheron also announced the selection of Roger Rennekamp as new director of OSU Extension, effective Jan. 4. Rennekamp is currently associate dean for outreach and engagement at Oregon STate University.

He will succeed longtime Extension director Dr. Keith Smith, who retired June 30, after 23 years in the position. Rennekamp will oversee nearly 700 employees and a $71 million budget for OSU Extension, the outreach arm of the university.

Ohio State President Michael Drake made his second trip to the Farm Science Review, and emphasized the importance of agriculture to the state and to the university.

“Agriculture is still at the center of what we do as a land-grant university,” Drake said.

Also visiting the Review Tuesday, was Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and Ann Bartuska, deputy undersecretary for the USDA’s Research, Education and Economics mission area.

Bartuska lauded the college for the focus on both research and education. “It’s not about getting the new science, it’s about getting the new professionals, too.”

But she also reaffirmed the USDA’s commitment to outreach through the land-grant Extension system, and Ohio State’s strength in that arena.

“The investment of Ohio as a state in maintaining Extension means science gets to those who can use it on a very real-time, daily basis. That’s the real winning leg of the stool,” she said, referring to the interconnection of academics, research and Extension, which is the hallmark of the land-grant university system.

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