Role: Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, CSU Fort Collins
How are you connected to Spur?
My tie to CSU Spur is through involvement in the Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management degree, the first tuition-based academic program to be offered at Spur.
When did you get involved with Spur and why is it important to you?
In Spring 2016, then-Dean Ajay Menon asked me to take the lead in designing programming for the College of Agricultural Sciences at the National Western Center, specifically for the facilities that are now known as CSU Spur campus. My experience as a former faculty member at Oregon State University exposed me to the Food Innovation Center (FIC) in Portland, one of the first urban experiment station facilities in the nation. The FIC provides urban Oregonians with experiment station and extension programming appropriate to them, thereby generating stronger political support for these entities and broadening the reach of the university. In the creation of Spur, I immediately saw that same potential to provide programming to urban Coloradans that would meet their needs and (hopefully) bridge the rural-urban divide that exists here and pretty much everywhere in the U.S. My colleague, Greg Graff, came to me with the idea for this master’s program, which he thought would be a great fit for this new location. I agreed and we moved forward with the paperwork to get this degree approved. We are absolutely thrilled with the response to the program that we’ve received from the ag and food industries, as well as prospective students.
What outcomes have you seen or do you expect from work at Spur?
Spur campus is going to become a transformational catalyst in the ag and food industry for Colorado and beyond. We believe we will be an integral part of that transformation by training the next generation of agriculture and food business leaders and entrepreneurs in Colorado. We provide knowledge, a real world practicum experience, and the opportunity to build a professional network.
What would you like others to know about Spur?
We have the facilities and programming to build an innovation space for agribusiness and food entrepreneurs that is second to none. The economic benefits to Colorado of this investment by the legislature and the business community is going to pay dividends for decades to come. The world will look to us for the innovative ideas needed to feed future generations.