Message From the Dean

Jordan College Fall-Winter 2017-18 Newsletter

Dean Sandra Witte

Greetings from the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State!

We are halfway through our 2017-2018 academic year, and we welcomed our students back to campus on January 16. We also had a busy and fast-paced fall so students and faculty earned their winter break this year.

One of the challenges we have had for the past couple of years is having more students than we can accommodate. I know, that sounds like a good thing, especially for the future of agriculture. However, when it becomes difficult for students to get a full load of classes and the classes they need, it isn’t such a good thing.

Our animal science and child development programs have been over-subscribed for some time with the agricultural business program moving rapidly toward the same status. To be able to manage all of the students we accept and to ensure that they can finish in a timely manner, we have had to declare ‘impaction’.

It’s a lengthy process to go through, including public hearings and contingency planning. Fresno State was declared impacted in Fall of 2016 – meaning we could raise our admission requirements both campus-wide and by program for first-time-freshmen and transfer students.

Our goal is to find that magic number where all of our seats are filled and no one is on the waiting list to get into a course. We’ll keep you posted on how that is going.

Over the last three years we have hired a total of 13 new tenure-track faculty members. All total, about 40% of our assistant, associate and full professors are probationary. For me, that is a strong indicator of the momentum the Jordan College has going right now. This year, we will hire five more tenure-track faculty.

While many of these positions have resulted from retirements, three positions are ‘brand new’ and not replacements. First, we hired Dr. Katy Tarrant in fall 2016 for our first tenure-track position in poultry science. We have had a great relationship with Foster Farms thanks to Ms. Michelle Ganci, a part-time lecturer in our animal sciences program. However, creating the tenure-track position has shown our commitment to sustaining a poultry science program and other industries at Fresno State. Dr. Tarrant has already made an impact on our students, with Foster Farms and other industry partners, and on her faculty colleagues. She is committed to the highest standards of performance and the future of California agriculture.

A second newly created position is a tenure-track faculty in agricultural leadership. Dr. Avery Culbertson started in the Jordan College in fall 2016. She will be working over the next few years to develop and implement a leadership program for our students. This is one of the recommendations from the President’s Commission on the Future of Agriculture released in May of 2014. Dr. Culbertson has gotten off to a great start. Soon after her arrival, I asked her to take the lead on Ag Discovery 2017. This program is sponsored by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In June of 2017, she led the first-ever Ag Discovery Camp on our campus by presenting a two-week residential agriculture awareness program for 16 teenagers. The group included kids from across the United States and Puerto Rico. They were introduced to the entire farm to fork experience with a hand-on approach. More than 30 staff and faculty in the Jordan College stepped up to volunteer with this program, and it was a huge success. We are well into planning for Ag Discovery 2018 this June.

The third newly created tenure-track position is for a food engineer. Three of our academic departments all identified the need for this area of expertise in their programs: food science, industrial technology and viticulture and enology. The search is currently underway, and we hope to have our new colleague teaching by fall 2018.

So as you can see, we aren’t just maintaining, we are boldly moving ahead. We are moving forward with outstanding faculty and totally awesome students who are doing amazing things. We’ve got some exciting things going on that we hope to be able to share with you in the near future. We know that 2018 will see us continue to move forward and upward!

Our successes would not be possible without the support of our alumni, friends and industry partners. We sincerely thank you for your time, talents and treasures. You make a difference for the Jordan College, and we couldn’t appreciate you more!


Sandra S. Witte

Dean, Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.