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Message from the Dean

Dr. Daniel Scholl Interim Dean, SDSU College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences
Dr. Daniel Scholl Interim Dean, SDSU College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences

Providing the Tools for the Next Generation of Problem Solvers

 How do you affiliate with South Dakota State University's College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences? Some know the college because it hosts SDSU Extension. Many of you and your family and friends have been touched by the opportunities 4-H provides to develop life skills. My own personal story is a 4-H story. Others may be more familiar with the outputs fro the College's unbiased research in agriculture and biological sciences. Much of this research is conducted by the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station which the College hosts. But everyone knows that people attend the ABS College for an education. Students from South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and across the entire US come to us for their higher and advanced education, not to mention many students who come from around the globe.

Education is a door opener. Education opens doors to employment opportunities and increases lifetime-earning potential. But there's more to it than that. Education opens doors for graduates to develop into leaders in their careers, in their communities and in their industries. Education opens the doors to becoming more creative problem solvers who can make things happen. 

This is an exciting time to be a student in the ABS College. We have more new and specialized active learning options than at any other time. Exciting new active learning spaces in our biology and precision agriculture areas will help students to cement and even deepen their new-found knowledge by visualizing it, challenging it, and using it. Graduates will be ahead of their competition for jobs in the cow-calf and swine production sectors because of the hands-on, real-life learning that our new Cow-Calf and Swine Education and Research Facilities will provide. Thanks to our First Dakota National Bank E-Trading Education Laboratory, students can graduate from the ABS College knowing how to use financial tools for marketing commodities and controlling costs, as well as for other financial applications. Students in any of our four majors centered on the management of natural resources receive intense guided hands-on instruction in a comprehensive array of field techniques that are taught in a real-life format a the Oak Lake Field Station. This is just a partial list - but it gives you the flavor of what its like to be a student at SDSU.

There is more to come, too. We are in various stages of implementation, planning or fundraising for three important educational units. Thanks to a generous early investment from Wells Fargo Bank, the first phase of the Local Foods Education Center is being built and will begin education offerings this fall. Our Biology and Microbiology Department provides valuable training in the state's only undergraduate dissected human cadaver-based anatomy lab. As we near the end of laying out the detailed plans of an updated and improved human anatomy-teaching laboratory, fundraising will start soon. This lab enables ABS College faculty to impart their knowledge and expertise to hundreds of students pursuing careers in the full gamut of health sciences and allied health sciences. Catalyzing support from South Dakota Corn Utilization Council has put wheels in motion for the early stages of design of a precision agriculture building. As it is developed, you can count on the new infrastructure to stimulate and ecosystem of innovation that will impact both teaching and research in precision agriculture.

Barry Dunn, the twentieth president of SDSU, challenged freshman students at our 2016 Convocation to imagine the opportunities and the impact they can have over the course of their lives. A university education is more than preparation for a job. A university education is preparation for a life full of experience and impact. Our expert and diverse faculty strive to challenge students to think "outside-the-box" thinking, students, and ultimately graduates are better able to find creative solutions to problems and challenges. Faculty strive to challenge students to not only learn facts, but to think critically and to look and think beyond the information to understand the facts behind the facts.

We had our biannual meeting of the advisory board for the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences in early September. This board of leaders from the various areas of agriculture, natural resources and bioscience sectors were rounding in their advice: our graduates will need to be prepared to confront challenges and to become expertly skilled in areas they have never encountered before. The problems they will have to solve will be more complex and more demanding. They need to become leaders who can analyze problems that are different than any they have confronted before. They will need to be able to formulate solutions that have never been used before. They will need to be better at their jobs than we have to be. Helping to prepare tomorrow's leaders is what we are all about in the SDSU College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences.

Diverse points of view, diverse perspectives, diverse backgrounds and experiences challenge one's thinking. If we embrace the challenge of learning from perspectives different then our own, we will be better prepared to formulate our own solutions to sticky problems. We will als obe better prepared to engage with our partners and customers from around the globe. Who knows what the global landscape for agricultural and biological commodities, products and services will be like in the coming decades? One thing is for sure, the students we are serving right now will be the leaders dealing with that landscape. We had better give them all the tools we can to be ready.

 

Daniel Scholl, 

Interim Dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences.